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Trustees Approve 2007-08 Budget

March 2, 2007

During their spring meeting on campus Friday, Oklahoma Baptist University trustees approved a $35.4 million operating budget for the 2007-08 academic year, including a 7.8 percent increase in tuition for the upcoming year.

At the meeting in OBU's Geiger Center, Randy L. Smith, OBU senior vice president for business affairs, presented an overview of the university's proposed plan for revenue and expenses before board members voted to approve the budget.

Smith said increased charges would offset rising expenditures related to faculty and staff salaries, increases in annually funded student scholarships, and operating expenses for OBU's new recreation and wellness center. The new facility, slated to open in the second half of 2007, will include new campus employment opportunities for students. Smith said the 2007-08 overall budget incorporates $272,000 in additional funding for student jobs.

"We continue to do everything we can to contain and control costs," said OBU President Mark Brister in his address to the board. "We want OBU to be as affordable as possible for all students who want to come to Bison Hill. As you know in your own budgets, infrastructure costs such as utilities and personnel-related expenses continue to increase. We also are working to enhance our student financial aid offerings.

"Fiscal responsibility is a tradition which will continue on our campus," said Dr. Brister. "I am quite pleased that with some minor adjustments in a variety of areas that this budget does contain a recommended salary increase for faculty and staff."

The budget includes a three percent raise for OBU faculty and staff.

The university's tuition for a full-time student during the 2007-08 year will be $14,732. The total cost for tuition, fees, room and board will be $20,994. That is compared to a total of $18,996 this year.

"OBU's tuition and fees for 2006-07 were at 65.7 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 83rd of 101 members schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities in the cost of tuition and fees in 2006-07," said Smith.

Smith said the 2007-08 budget includes $6.3 million in annually funded scholarships, which will be bolstered by $2.2 million in OBU endowed scholarship awards for the academic year.

In other business, the board approved promotions for five OBU faculty members. Dr. Kevin Hall, who joined the OBU faculty in 1994, was promoted from associate professor to professor of religion. Those promoted from the rank of assistant professor include Dr. Joyce Aldridge, associate professor of theatre; Laura Byland, associate professor of theatre; Kevin Pruiett, associate professor of music; and Dr. Shawna York, associate professor of chemistry.

The board also approved one new faculty contract for the upcoming year. Timothy James McCollum will join the faculty as assistant professor of anthropology. A 1996 OBU graduate, McCollum holds a master's degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Tulsa, and is working toward a doctorate in anthropology from Indiana University.

James Howell, chairman of the OBU board of trustees, moderated the board's plenary session. Howell, a former Oklahoma state senator, is a Midwest City attorney.