OBU Trustees Approve 2006-07 Budget

During their spring meeting on campus Friday, Oklahoma Baptist University trustees approved a $32.5 million operating budget for the 2006-07 academic year, including a 5.95 percent increase in tuition, fees, room and board for the upcoming year.

The university’s tuition for a full-time student during the 2006-07 year will be $13,654. The total cost for tuition, fees, room and board will be $18,996. That is compared to a total of $17,986 this year.

“According to the College Board website, OBU’s overall cost of attendance for the 2005-2006 year is one of the lowest in our state among independent institutions,” said Randy L. Smith, OBU senior vice president for business affairs. “We believe OBU will have the lowest overall costs among Oklahoma Independent Colleges and Universities member institutions in the coming year.”

At the meeting in OBU’s Geiger Center, Smith presented an overview of the university’s proposed budget to the trustees before board members voted to approve the budget and charges. Citing the College Board’s survey titled “Trends in College Pricing,” Smith said the average overall costs for private four-year colleges in the southwestern region of the country total $23,055 for the current year.

“OBU’s tuition and fees for 2005-06 were at 65 percent of the national average for four-year private universities,” said Smith. “The university’s charges for room and board were at 53 percent of the national average for similar institutions.”

“OBU ranked 81st of 101 members schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities in the cost of tuition and fees in 2005-06,” said Smith.

In his state-of-the-university address, OBU President Mark Brister told the board the university had expanded its scholarship and financial aid programs during the current year.

Smith said increased charges would offset rising healthcare, utility and technology costs.

In other business, the board approved promotions for five OBU faculty members. Dr. Robbie Henson, who joined the OBU faculty in 1991, was promoted from associate professor to professor of nursing. Those promoted from the rank of assistant professor include Dr. John McWilliams, associate professor of natural science; Dr. Michael Jordan, associate professor of chemistry; Wanda Robinson, associate professor of nursing; and Dr. Randall Ridenour, associate professor of philosophy.

The board also approved two new faculty contracts for the upcoming year. Holly Easttom, who has served as instructor of journalism at OBU since 2000, was promoted to assistant professor of journalism. Michael Bruce, the university’s television production manager and an adjunct lecturer since 1998 was promoted to assistant professor of communication arts.

Trustees also reviewed reports from administrative areas at the university, and participated in groundbreaking ceremonies for OBU’s wellness center and athletic facilities projects. The groundbreaking was at the former site of Clark Craig Fieldhouse, on University Street, just east of Airport Road. The fieldhouse was razed in January, and construction of a two-story wellness center will begin later this spring.

Rev. Doyle Pryor, chairman of the OBU board of trustees, moderated the board’s plenary session. Pryor is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Sapulpa, Oklahoma.