The Norman Transcript

Opinion

April 23, 2013

Could public higher education disappear?

(Continued)

NORMAN —

When I first came back to OU to be president, the state provided 32 percent of the university budget. Now the state provides 15 percent and the support is falling. The OU Medical School receives less than 7 percent of its budget from the state.

State appropriations for higher education in Oklahoma are now $100 million lower than in 2008. In addition, $200 million in uncontrollable cost increases, like health insurance, have also been absorbed by Oklahoma colleges in four years without help from the state.

This comes at a time when a new report by Battelle for the State Chamber of Commerce demonstrates that the economy benefits $5 for every $1 invested in higher education.

The result of declining state support for public higher education and cost shifting to students is threatening America's role in the world.

In only a decade we have dropped from 1st place in the world to 12th place in the percentage of our young people going on to college.

The impact on American jobs and our ability to compete is clear for all to see. In addition, democracies like ours only function well when we have informed and well-educated citizens.

Continued disinvestment in public higher education gravely threatens our future.

Oklahoma can demonstrate important national leadership by increasing appropriations for our public colleges and universities this year. Public higher education must not be allowed to disappear.

There is no time to waste. It is time for all Oklahomans to speak out!

David L. Boren is former governor, U.S. Senator and currently President of The University of Oklahoma.

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