OSUOklahoma State University



As a land-grant university, OSU has a clear and distinct mission to pursue teaching, research/scholarly activity, and outreach/extension priorities. The university has many programs that carry out these priorities, and OSU's vision for the future allows the university to build on its legacy of educational quality and service.

Institutional improvement is an important goal of this accreditation self-study report. Faculty, administrators, staff, and students have studied OSU to assess whether current policies, plans, and practices ensure fulfillment of OSU's mission and the established Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association's accreditation criteria. Through this process, challenges to and opportunities for the institution have been identified. Broad discussions are now focused on how the inherent strengths of the institution can be used to meet challenges and benefit from opportunities.

This self-study report documents many significant accomplishments since OSU's last accreditation process: increased graduation and retention rates, national recognition as a high-quality but affordable university, national rankings for several academic and research programs, development of a nationally recognized scholars' program, improved evaluation and assessment processes, and development of the university's system-wide strategic plan.

The self-study also identified some areas of continued weakness and future challenges. Low faculty salaries and salary compression have a negative effect on building an excellent, stable faculty base. Although the percentage of women at the rank of associate and full professor has increased, the percentage of minority administrators in positions of director and above has declined over the last decade. OSU faces the challenge of effectively implementing the strategic plan to strengthen the institution, address known weaknesses, and efficiently contend with other issues faced by the institution.

This summary provides a brief overview of OSU's self-study report findings and addresses them in regard to four crosscutting themes that each span the HLC criteria: the future-oriented organization, the learning-focused organization, the connected organization, and the distinctive organization.

OSU is a Future-Oriented Organization

OSU's vision for the future is outlined in the university's strategic plans. These documents contain strategic goals, critical success factors, and objectives for addressing educational quality in a diverse, complex, and technological world. OSU's strategic plans were developed to help the system reach higher levels of achievement and recognition in the fulfillment of its mission. The plans will help the university use its resources wisely to maintain, strengthen, and improve the quality of educational programs.

The university has demonstrated that it is future-oriented through careful implementation of several university-wide key initiatives. These include modernizing university business functions, purchasing new technology for student and classroom use, investing in modern housing and new teaching and research facilities, growing the faculty, and ensuring that OSU aligns key research areas with national resources and priorities.

In the last five years, OSU has invested more than $100 million in state-of-the-art campus housing. OSU also has invested heavily in computer software and technology to enhance the classroom experience. The university's Microsoft Campus Agreement provides students with free access to millions of dollars worth of software. OSU also has strived to constantly improve its e-mail and internet-based communication systems to serve students, faculty, and staff. The university's payroll system, reporting of grades, bursar bills, and other business functions are now conducted via e-mail or through the internet.

OSU is making a concerted effort to grow its research program by investing in new facilities and trying to attract the nation's top scientists. Part of a recently passed Higher Education Bond Issue will fund the first phase of a new Science and Technology Center. The five-story center will dramatically improve OSU's research capabilities by providing state-of-the-art laboratories and other research space. Existing laboratories will also be renovated and updated. At OSU-Tulsa, a $14 million Advanced Technology Research Center (ATRC) will focus on the development of next generation composites and materials for industries such as aerospace, biotechnology, telecommunications, and manufacturing. OSU also plans to become part of the Lambda Rail System, the nation's new high-speed communication network for scientific researchers.

OSU is investing in new classroom facilities for the future. Plans call for using $8.8 million in bond issue proceeds to help restore and renovate South Murray Hall. The $16.8 million project will create additional teaching space, classrooms, computer laboratories, and new auditorium lecture halls. A new classroom facility, in partnership with Northern Oklahoma College (NOC), is planned on the north side of campus. NOC has pledged $3 million for the building, and OSU will use $1 million from the bond issue and $3 million from other sources for the project. The building will contain a 250-seat auditorium, numerous lecture halls, computer labs, and other facilities. The building will provide much-needed classroom space for OSU, and a portion of the facility will be used by NOC, which is contributing nearly half the cost. The modern classrooms in this facility that will be used by both institutions reflect the importance of the OSU-NOC Gateway partnership, which allows students who do not meet academic requirements at a comprehensive university to take courses at NOC, and then transfer to OSU.

The “Restore, Reward, and Grow Program,” currently being developed, is one example of a response to current and future needs addressed as a result of the strategic plan. The program is intended to strengthen the faculty, both in terms of quality and quantity, in order to accomplish goals set by the plan. The program will restore 100 faculty positions that were cut as a result of state appropriation reductions in recent years. Current faculty-to-student ratios are not competitive with peer institutions because in the last decade, enrollment has grown at a rate three times that of the faculty. Other aspects of the program will increase average faculty salaries at OSU and increase the number of permanent of faculty members.

In addition, OSU's various internal assessment and evaluation processes, as well as data gathered from outside sources, help the university learn more about the needs of the society it serves. These processes monitor changing societal and economic trends to help OSU respond effectively to future student needs and continue to fulfill its mission.

OSU is a Learning-Focused Organization

Serving the educational needs of OSU's many constituents is central to the university's land-grant mission. These constituencies include OSU's undergraduate and graduate students, as well as the general public who depend on OSU's outreach and extension programs to provide them with valuable information and educational opportunities.

University-wide expectations in general education demonstrate the integral nature of a breadth of knowledge, skill, and intellectual inquiry at OSU. Beyond the academic requirements, units within OSU encourage interdisciplinary inquiry through such programs as the Wentz Research Scholarships, the Freshman Research Scholars, special programs at the college level, national and international travel, student clubs and organizations, and cultural events.

Every OSU graduate and undergraduate program is assessed through plans developed by faculty and staff, incorporated into university-wide assessment, and designed for feedback into program development. The overall assessment plan includes entry level, general education, program outcomes, and alumni components that help ensure students are achieving learning goals. The results from teaching and learning assessment are used throughout the university to facilitate curricular and program changes. Outstanding student achievement, student and alumni satisfaction with their educational experiences, and the accreditation of specific discipline areas within the university all provide evidence of OSU's effectiveness.

Inside and outside the classroom, OSU emphasizes programs, develops facilities, and promotes attitudes that support effective learning environments. Programs offered through residential life, student union activities, multicultural organizations, and numerous other OSU and student organizations promote effective learning in diverse circumstances. Facilities such as the Campus Life Center enhance learning environments by sponsoring events and activities that bring together a variety of students.

Despite budget constraints, OSU supports and rewards effective teaching. The university emphasizes assessment of teaching methods, development of quality curricular materials, teacher training, and rewards for outstanding teaching and innovation. The newly organized Institute for Learning and Teaching Excellence will assist faculty in creating even more effective learning environments. Continual technological advancements in the classroom have contributed to greater learning effectiveness. Assessment results give OSU vital information about improvements in curricula, pedagogy, instructional resources, and student services that promote improvements in learning environments.

In addition to traditional classroom work, undergraduate and graduate students are involved in research, creative projects, travel, internships, and cultural and community service experiences. These experiences help students become lifelong learners and help them apply their knowledge. OSU's faculty and staff also provide excellent models of lifelong learning as they pursue ongoing scholarly and professional development, research, creative endeavors, and community involvement.

Because OSU recognizes the diversity of its learners, other constituencies, and the greater society it serves, diversity is a core value in the OSU strategic plans. The institution strives to create an environment of respect for all individuals by valuing other ethnic and cultural backgrounds, diversity of opinion, and freedom of expression.

OSU is a Connected Organization

As a state-supported, land-grant university, OSU interacts with many constituencies and provides them with services they find valuable. This interaction spans OSU's academic and support units and benefits all OSU's constituencies, including students, faculty, staff, and the general public. In addition to its Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, OSU also is connected throughout Oklahoma with a presence in each of the 77 counties through its Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (OCES). OSU serves its constituencies through engagement, a two-way relationship through which the organization is open to learning. OCES provides one excellent example through its “listening sessions” that were held throughout the state. These sessions allowed OCES to learn about its constituents' needs and desires and to adjust programming accordingly.

OSU also has many connections with city, county, state, and federal government, as well as with foundations and industries that support and benefit from OSU research and hire its graduates. The university also engages with public school systems to help train teachers in innovative teaching methods and participates in educational arrangements with two-year colleges to give students greater opportunities to earn higher degrees at OSU. In addition, OSU faculty, staff, administrators, and students are connected with their colleagues at other institutions through research and professional organizations.

OSU's Center for Local Government Technology offers professional development and required training for local and county officers. The College of Education offers continuing education for the state's teachers and administrators. OSU is involved in partnerships with business and industry to provide continuing education, professional development courses, and internship opportunities for students. The OSU Center for Professional and Executive Development in the William S. Spears School of Business offers the state's business community a variety of training and development opportunities. It also sponsors the Tulsa Business Forums and Executive Management Briefings, which bring internationally known leaders to Oklahoma for talks and to interact with the state's business community.

OSU is known for the loyalty of its alumni, and the OSU Alumni Association is seeking to further strengthen those ties. Recently, the university and the association announced a closer working and managerial relationship that will focus on increasing alumni participation, strengthening fund-raising efforts, and improving OSU's Legislative and Congressional relations. Such a move bodes well for the university to acquire additional resources for its academic and public service missions.

The OSU community has a long tradition of volunteer service to the local community, as well as at state and national levels with professional organizations and advisory groups. Each year, large numbers of students, faculty, administrators, and staff members volunteer their services for such community projects as “Into the Streets” and “Make a Difference Day,” and for causes such as fundraising for the United Way. These efforts have a tremendously positive effect on the community and provide services that would otherwise be unavailable to local residents.

OSU also engages with constituencies on and off campus through various magazines, brochures, the general media, the internet, and electronic messages. The university, the OSU Alumni Association, the OSU Foundation, and other units and departments stay in constant contact with university constituents.

OSU is a Distinctive Organization

Oklahoma State University draws its distinctive nature from its land-grant heritage, with an historic mission of serving a statewide constituency. OSU's roots in the state's rural traditions, enriched by an urban campus community, emphasize hard work, a strong competitive nature, and a dedication to providing students with a solid foundation that emphasizes enduring American values such as loyalty, leadership, volunteerism, and academic achievement. The university's central mission includes a commitment to serve the common good. OSU does this in diverse ways, ranging from helping educate the state's population to providing academic, cultural, and entertainment opportunities for the university community, as well as the general public.

OSU is known as an institution that is student-centered and focused on student success. The university devotes significant resources to recruiting and retaining the state's brightest students, regardless of economic, social, or racial background. Its Valedictorian Scholars Program has resulted in top students from every county in Oklahoma matriculating and graduating in record numbers. Currently, more than 1,100 Oklahoma Valedictorians are enrolled. Its friendly, supportive, and success-oriented environment sets OSU apart from other institutions. The partnership with Northern Oklahoma College ensures that students who enroll will be academically ready to succeed at the comprehensive level. The university emphasizes leadership and scholastic success. OSU's Scholar Development Program has resulted in OSU being named a Truman Honor Institution. OSU emphasizes leadership and real-world experience through university-wide intern partnerships with business and industry. On campus, students are encouraged to participate in any of the more than 350 student organizations and in student-run events such as “Orange Peel,” “Speaker's Bureau,” and “ShowDown.”

OSU's student-centered approach extends to the physical well-being of its students. The university's Seretean Wellness Center promotes healthy living and exercise as life-long goals. The newly renovated and expanded Colvin Center is one of the top collegiate recreational centers in the nation and is heavily utilized by students, as well as faculty and staff.

OSU's Residential Life Department focuses on student development and academic achievement. Every year, the department wins national awards for residence hall programming. Its residence halls feature the latest in amenities and technical advances to help students succeed. The department also offers students various types of “affinity” housing arrangements that group students of similar academic interests. Stout Hall features several floors just for students in OSU's Honors College.

Finally, OSU's status as a distinctive organization is reinforced and strengthened by its strategic plan, which was derived through the first system-wide comprehensive planning effort accomplished by an Oklahoma institution of higher education. The plan's mission and core values and a dedication to understanding changing social, demographic, economic, and technological factors that affect the university and its constituents help assure that OSU will continue to be a distinctive organization.


The self-report process has given the Oklahoma State University community an opportunity to reflect on its strengths, its weaknesses, and its plans for the future. We believe this report domonstrates that OSU is an outstanding land-grant research university with a proud heritage and many significant achievements. Despite budget constraints of the past several years, the university has maintained a high level of quality in its programs and continues to provide the type of service its constituents have come to expect. While there are always challenges, overall, we believe this report demonstrates that OSU is a strong, vital organization that accomplishes its mission and satisfies or exceeds the HLC accreditation criteria for institutions of higher learning. Therefore, based on the information provided in this self-study report, Oklahoma State University formally requests continued accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

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