At their recent meeting, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education listened to presentations from Huron Consulting, a global management consulting firm that offers services to many industries, including higher education- about the financial state of colleges and universities in Oklahoma and discussed potential issues those colleges and universities will face this fall, according to an OU Daily article written by Beth Wallis.
At the meeting, Huron Consulting presented data on state higher education institutions’ cash-on-hand equivalents; this shows how many days each institution would be operational without incoming funds. At the top of Huron’s list were four community colleges, with Carl Albert State College at the top of the list, having the most days cash-on-hand at 200 days.
This news is something that is being celebrated at Carl Albert, but embraced with a bit of caution. “We are clearly proud to be leading the pack in the state in days cash-on-hand,” said President Jay Falkner. “This data proves our commitment to being good stewards of our finances, being fiscally responsible and conservative, but also our commitment to our long-term health. Our goal is to ensure we set ourselves up for success not only this year, but in years to come. However, given the climate that COVID-19 has put EVERYONE in- not just those of us in higher education- we want to continue to be conservative so we can continue to operate at full capacity and give our students the experience they deserve.”
In addition to maintaining a stable financial position, after considering the current economic climate, college leadership decided not to raise tuition and fees for the 2020-21 academic year. “We wanted to be sensitive to the challenges our students and their parents may now be in due to COVID-19,” said Falkner. “Our goal is to fill a need our students have and to provide affordable access to a quality education. We are committed to doing that in the midst of this crisis.”
Carl Albert State College was part of the overall 2.2% increase for community colleges approved recently by the Oklahoma State Board of Regents, but internally, college leadership had already decided to keep tuition and fees flat. A small increase of $5 for student ID cards was approved in the spring by the Student Government Association, but academic fees remained unchanged.
The goal of Carl Albert’s leadership team is to now use the current position to grow and serve their students and communities. “We want to build on this foundation and look forward to the exciting things we can offer our students,” said Bill Nowlin, Vice President of Enrollment Management. “As a team, we have chosen not to raise tuition and fees for this year. We wanted to be sensitive to the financial situations many of our students and their families are now in due to COVID-19.”
Carl Albert State College currently has the lowest tuition in Oklahoma. However, the institution continues to receive notable accolades for academic excellence. “Make no mistake,” said Dr. Marc Willis, Vice President of Academic Affairs. “At Carl Albert, you won’t sacrifice educational quality and excellence for the price you pay. We just recently celebrated two more awards for our online programs, being recognized among the top 30 online schools in the nation.”
In its report, Huron Consulting stated that “maintaining adequate liquidity should be a priority for institutions as unrestricted cash and investment resources can be utilized to ‘bridge the gap’ and meet operating expenses in the near-term.”
“I feel proud to serve with our team here at Carl Albert,” said President Falkner. “It’s because our leadership team is committed to serving with excellence and ensuring we deliver a quality product all while remaining fiscally conservative that we will be able to continue to be a stable, secure presence in our communities and for our students. Our students are the reason we are here.”
The report and other important information can be found at www.oudaily.com.