During their spring meeting on campus Friday, OBU trustees approved the operating budget for the upcoming academic year and ratified a significant step in improvement of on-campus housing.
Trustees approved a $38.6 million operating budget for the 2008-09 academic year, including a 4.74 percent increase in cost of attendance for the upcoming year. The $996 overall increase in the cost of tuition, fees and room and board is less than half of last year's $1,998 increase in cost.
Randy L. Smith, OBU senior vice president for business affairs, presented the board an overview of the university's proposed plan for revenue and expenses before board members voted to approve the budget.
The university's tuition for a full-time student during the 2008-09 year will be $15,468. The total cost for tuition, fees, room and board will be $21,990. That is compared to a total of $20,994 this year.
Smith said OBU's total cost for the current academic year is at 67 percent of the national average for four-year private universities, and 81 percent of the average for the southwest region of private universities.
The budget includes a three percent raise for OBU faculty and staff. In separate action, trustees approved a seven-year salary improvement plan recommend by a board-created salary task force. The task force, formed in the spring of 2007, based the plan on salary data for faculty and administrative staff members at institutions which are members of the international Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Local wage averages for hourly employees also were utilized in developing the plan.
Smith noted that funding for the salary plan is based on increases in student enrollment over the seven-year span. The plan will be activated for the 2009-10 fiscal year.
In his state-of-the-university report to the board, OBU Interim President John W. Parrish said the university has met or exceeded many of its goals for student recruitment for the upcoming year. OBU officials anticipate more than 415 new freshmen will enroll for the 2008-09 academic year. The university had a total of 315 new freshmen for the 2007-08 year.
Board members approved a campus housing plan which includes closing of OBU's historic WMU Memorial Dormitory for the 2008-09 year. The university's oldest continuing dormitory, WMU Dormitory opened in 1928. While OBU officials have completed annual maintenance work at the facility, it has not been significantly renovated since 1980. The 202-bed dormitory has traditionally housed freshman women.
To accommodate the major capital project, OBU will transition MacArthur East Apartments from male to female housing for the 2008-09 year. Opened in 1989, MacArthur East Apartments accommodates 32 students, and has been a men's residence facility throughout its history. OBU officials said some update work would be completed in the apartment units during the summer of 2008.
In addition to changing the residential structure for MacArthur Apartments, OBU plans to fully utilize Kerr Memorial Dormitory. The three-story facility on University Street has not been fully occupied by female students in recent years. OBU's male students who will be displaced by the apartment transition will be offered housing in other OBU-owned housing.
Smith told board members university administrators met with students Thursday evening to explain the WMU Dormitory renovation plans. The dormitory residence rooms will have new painting, furniture, carpeting, and other enhancements. In addition, the building's fire alarm system will be enhanced.
OBU will invest $1.1 million in the renovation effort, including nearly $800,000 for the WMU Dormitory project, and additional funds for improvements to MacArthur Apartments and Kerr Dormitory.
In other business, the board approved promotions for six OBU faculty members. Dr. Brian Camp, who joined the OBU faculty in 2004, was promoted from associate professor to professor of family science. Dr. John Powell, who joined the faculty in 2004, was promoted from associate professor to professor of history. Dr. Karen Longest was promoted from the rank of assistant professor to associate professor of psychology. Three faculty were promoted from the rank of instructor to assistant professor. Those are Beth Green-Nagle, assistant professor of Spanish; Conchita Hansford, assistant professor of music; and Dr. Keith Whitmore, assistant professor of music.
The board also approved one new faculty contract for the upcoming year. M. Nicole Warehime will join the faculty as assistant professor of sociology, filling a position which has been open since the death of Dr. Thomas Dowdy, OBU professor of sociology, in 2006. Warehime earned a bachelor's degree from Oklahoma City University and a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma. She will complete a Ph.D. degree from the University of Oklahoma in May 2008. She has served as an instructor at OU since 2005.
Dr. Alton Fannin, chairman of the OBU board of trustees, moderated the board's plenary session. Fannin is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ardmore.