OSUOklahoma State University


Criterion Two: Preparing for the Future

The organization's allocation of resources and its process for evaluation and planning demonstrate its capacity to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its education, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.

OSU's planning documents provide evidence of the university's awareness of the relationships between educational quality, student learning, and the diverse, complex, global, and technological world in which the university and its students exist. OSU's strategic plan states that the university will educate students to be lifelong learners who are intellectually and ethically prepared to serve and lead in an increasingly complex global society. In addition, the university's vision statement makes it clear that OSU's culture will support diversity, academic freedom, high aspirations, and mutual respect. The OSU-Stillwater and OSU-Tulsa Strategic Plans2.1 and the strategic plans of the units within the system contain strategic goals, critical success factors, and objectives for addressing educational quality in a diverse, complex, and technological world.

OSU's planning processes involve internal constituents and, where appropriate, external constituents.2.2 During the strategic planning process, OSU's president presented the vision for the future success of OSU at town hall meetings throughout the state and solicited input from stakeholders, including community organizations and community members at large. This vision is articulated in key documents2.3 and addresses such issues as strategic planning, transformational culture, funding for the future, linking performance and budgeting, marketing, and messaging.

OSU's vision for the future is outlined in its strategic plan.2.4 Goals and objectives have been outlined at every level of the university. The University Planning Council2.5 is charged with overseeing the implementation of the plan and reporting on its progress. In addition, OSU has adopted well-established and effective evaluation systems that help the university community understand how and why some programs are succeeding and why some must be updated to meet changing needs and to fulfill the university's mission. Funding will be tied to strategic planning goals, which are aimed at meeting future challenges and developing and enhancing new opportunities.

Core Component 2a

The organization realistically prepares for a future shaped by multiple societal and economic trends.

OSU's various evaluation and survey processes, as well as data gathered from outside sources, help the university learn more about the needs of the society it serves. It learns what its students and potential students want from their college careers and the type of new or revised educational training they may need to be effective in their professional careers. For example, changes or special efforts may be made to meet the needs of students from underrepresented populations who are the first in their families to attend college or of adult learners who are reentering college classes for additional professional training. Or, more efforts may be made to raise scholarship funds for students with greater financial needs. In addition, data may indicate that the university should shift resources from one area to another, especially in tight budget years. Many units throughout the university are constantly monitoring changing societal and economic trends in order to respond effectively to future student needs and to continue to fulfill OSU's mission.

Addressing Multicultural Issues

OSU's strategic planning documents show careful attention to the organization's function in a multicultural society. The plan includes a core value that emphasizes respect for people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and for the value of diversity of opinion. To that end, university objectives encompass educating the OSU family, Oklahoma's citizens, and other society members about the importance of respecting and valuing diversity; increasing the number of underrepresented groups in the student body, staff, and faculty; and initiating, promoting, and mentoring diversity in employment, the curriculum, and university programs. OSU has a documented affirmative action program for students, faculty, and staff, and both college- and university-level scholarships are available to underrepresented groups. In addition, student government has a set-aside from student fees to fund multicultural programs that are focused on the goal of mentoring diversity.

In addition, many of the courses in the general education curriculum foster an understanding of a multicultural society, and undergraduates are required to take coursework that enhances their understanding of contemporary global cultures. The General Education Advisory Council2.6 (GEAC) continues to discuss how general education courses meet the needs of students. A lower-division course on diversity has been developed, and an upper division diversity course is in the planning stages.

Campus student organizations represent students from different cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. The university study abroad programs2.7 offer opportunities for study in different cultures, while the Multicultural Student Center and the International Students and Scholars Office play a significant role in students' cultural support and awareness. In addition, OSU has a Multicultural Affairs Office, an Academic Minority Program, and a Women's Faculty Council. Extensive diversity programs are sponsored by the Student Union Activities Board (SUAB) and the Office of Student Affairs. These various entities work to promote and enhance multicultural opportunities and diversity at OSU and prepare students to live and work in an increasingly diverse society, while creating a more culturally sensitive and diverse climate at OSU and in the surrounding communities.

Changing Demographics

OSU's Enrollment Management and Marketing2.8 (EMM) area gathers demographic information and market-trend data from various sources, including the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, Knocking at the College Door (2003), the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, Oklahoma State Department of Education, other state and federal government sources, College Board, ACT, and the OSU Student Profile,2.9 compiled by OSU's Office of Institutional Research and Information Management2.10 (IRIM). This information has not been transmitted to campus leaders in a consistent way in the past, except for distribution of the OSU Student Profile. With completion of OSU's Enrollment Management Plan, this information will be widely disseminated and available on the internet. It also will be updated annually.

Comparison of OSU's Minority Enrollment
with Oklahoma's Minority Population
OSU* Oklahoma**
African American 3.9% 7.6%
Asian 1.6% 1.4%
Hispanic 1.9% 5.2%
Native American 8.0% 11.4%
*2004 Student Profile **2000 U.S. Census

EMM uses recruitment communication strategies that take advantage of the internet. For example, students can enroll online, and admissions representatives correspond with many prospects via e-mail.

In the past, EMM has generally relied upon published sources, anecdotal information, and occasional focus groups in the design and development of recruitment publications and strategies. However, in the spring 2004 semester, EMM used the College Board's Admitted Student Questionnaire (ASQ) to gather information from students recruited in 2003-2004. EMM plans to continue with more formal research.

EMM has responded to demographic and population shifts by creating and expanding an OSU presence in the Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston, Texas areas in the past 10 years. OSU also is increasing its emphasis on recruiting in community colleges given data indicating that more Oklahoma students are beginning their college careers at the community college level.

Other new programs have been developed in the past 10 years to address changing needs. For example, the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid2.11 has increased its outreach activities to meet the needs of underrepresented and first generation students. Workshops help minority students apply for Gates Millennium Scholarships, and more general financial aid workshops, held on site in public schools, assist prospective students and their parents. OSU's scholarship programs also have been modified to place a higher priority on students with demonstrated financial need in some award categories. OSU now uses the internet to communicate with students and counselors, but maintains paper-based materials for those without internet access.

While OSU's percentage of minority enrollment does not reflect the state's population, OSU has initiated several new programs and areas of emphasis to increase its minority enrollment. The university has developed off-site recruiting programs for the state's two metropolitan areas, including a program in each city focusing on superior individuals from under-represented groups. EMM has expanded its collaboration with OSU's Multicultural Student Center2.12 to create on-campus programs, and it also plans to enlist currently enrolled minority students to help with minority recruitment.

OSU's emphasis on addressing demographic shifts is strongly demonstrated by its OSU-Tulsa student body. OSU-Tulsa2.13 was created as a branch campus to meet the higher education needs of a large urban community. The student body reflects this community. In addition, new student housing facilities, and projects such as the renovation and expansion of the Colvin Center recreational facility, provide further evidence of OSU's commitment to meeting students' changing needs.

Changes in course scheduling and academic programming also provide evidence of OSU's attention to demographic shifts. For example, the university offers an increasing number of evening and weekend courses and distance learning opportunities in an attempt to meet the needs of non-traditional students.

Courses and/or programs with a component related to changing national and international demographics also can be found throughout the university. Other new programs developed in the past 10 years2.14 to meet changing societal needs include the master of science degree in the Fire and Emergency Management Program2.15 (FEMP), which addresses the growing need for managers in homeland security programs. In addition, the M.S. degree in international studies addresses the globalization of society, while the certificate program in geographic information systems2.16 (GIS) prepares students to analyze specialized geographic data. The Office of Student Affairs and the CHES have a program in which a student can earn a leadership certificate.

In addition, organizations such as the Off-Campus Student Association,2.17 the Native American Student Association, and the International Student Association2.18 help address the needs of the diverse student population.

International Involvement

An emphasis on globalization is implicit in the current university-wide and unit strategic plans. OSU's mission statement also contains objectives and critical success factors for globalization. OSU's commitment to addressing the needs and issues resulting from globalization are historic and ongoing. In 1950, OSU began a legacy of international involvement when President Henry G. Bennett was named director of the U.S. Technical Cooperation Administration, which administered President Harry S. Truman's famous “Point Four” program of assistance to underdeveloped nations. Part of this effort was the establishment of a university in Ethiopia. In the late 1980s, OSU established a campus in Kyoto, Japan, which was later discontinued.

Current examples of international involvement include establishment of the School of International Studies,2.19 an interdisciplinary program that represents the international interests of the university's colleges and departments. Other international initiatives include the College of Agricultural and Natural Resources' program associated with USAID and the Geography Department's involvement with the training of educators in Iraq. OSU also has multiple partnership agreements with universities outside the United States and a growing number of study abroad programs, both facilitated and sponsored by OSU. The Spears School of Business has an international business major and also offers study abroad programs in Toronto, London, France, and Monterrey, Mexico. Other study abroad information is offered on the OSU study abroad website.2.20 Finally, 8.6% of OSU students are international students, most of them in graduate programs.

New Research

In recent years, several research centers and institutes have been created at OSU.2.21 These centers, in addition to many long-standing organizational entities, are a response to emerging social, economic, and technological trends. The OSU sponsored research centers/institutes include the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences and the Food and Agricultural Products Center. The Office of the Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer also conducts seminars and training to assist faculty in identifying emerging areas of research.

Academic Changes

The Provost's Office, working through the Instruction Council,2.22 regularly reviews proposals for change and innovation in academic programs. It is important to note that the vast majority of these proposals originate from faculty and their related departments. These proposals range from course modification requests to new program requests. The process for evaluating these proposals considers the capabilities and redundancies within the university, as well as emerging social and economic trends. For example, OSU recently developed classes in Arabic to help meet the country's growing need for individuals trained in Arabic language and culture for work in the Middle East or on Middle Eastern issues.

Extension and Outreach

Fulfillment of OSU's outreach mission is accomplished through numerous service/outreach programs that respond to emerging challenges and the needs of the state, American society, and the world. Support for outreach activities is provided through a variety of organizational units in departments and colleges and throughout the university.

One of the most prominent of OSU's outreach programs is the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service2.23 (OCES), the outreach arm of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the College of Human Environmental Sciences. Cooperative Extension is represented in every county in Oklahoma. A good example of an OCES program was the Oklahoma Community Listening Program, which invited the state's citizens to define and discuss, their communities' current and future needs at forums held in every Oklahoma county. Information about the outreach services in each college can be viewed at the International Education and Outreach website.2.24

OSU's external planning processes include departmental/professional accreditations2.25 and external departmental reviews. Internal processes include a university-wide strategic plan; annual plans at the department, college, and university levels; budget plans; yearly college- and department-level appraisal and development processes (A&Ds); and the university master building plan. These processes are administered within an academic administrative structure.

OSU's planning processes include effective environmental scanning and needs analysis. Through a variety of university offices and departments, OSU vigilantly monitors potential changes in its political, academic, economic, and social environments. This monitoring occurs in, among other offices and units, the Intellectual Property Management Office,2.26 the Research Compliance Office,2.27 the Research Forum, the Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED), and the Federal Relations Office.

CIED's mission is to develop economic plans for north central Oklahoma by attracting new business and industry (preferably high-tech companies) to the state. The organization uses a variety of innovative ways to accomplish this goal. One important tool is the Oklahoma Technology and Research Park2.28 west of Stillwater. CIED offers OSU facilities at the park to attract out-of-state companies.

OSU also plays a large role in Governor Brad Henry's Economic Development Generating Excellence2.29 (EDGE) program, an economic development group that operates throughout Oklahoma. The EDGE initiative's four recommendations to move Oklahoma forward economically focus on (a) generating funds ($1 billion) to attract outside companies to Oklahoma, (b) making Oklahoma a healthier state, (c) improving Oklahoma schools, and (d) improving Oklahoma's business climate.

Assessment-based Planning

The program outcomes assessment process requires that degree programs measure each year the extent to which students are achieving the learning goals established for the program. Based on assessment results, changes needed to improve student learning are identified. Most programs have submitted annual assessment reports since the late 1990s. Since 2003, the five-year academic program review process requires programs to document assessment activity, results of assessment, changes made to improve the degree program, and recommendations for future program changes, based on assessment results. The review process also will provide information that determines budget allocations to degree programs.

Core Component 2b

The organization's resource base supports its educational programs and its plans for maintaining and strengthening their quality in the future.

Evidence indicates that OSU's resource base has been adequate to maintain educational quality over the ten-year period 1995 through 2005, but recent budget downturns have often placed additional burdens on already fully assigned faculty, staff, and administrators. For example, tight budgets have not allowed the university to fill some faculty and staff positions, and other employees have had to take on additional responsibilities to ensure that educational quality is maintained. Lack of funding also has not allowed the university to grow in some areas. OSU's strategic plan is designed to help the university use its future resources wisely to maintain, strengthen, and improve the quality of educational programs.

Assessment of Existing Resources

It is challenging to definitively measure the adequacy of resources to meet educational goals for a large comprehensive university such as OSU. An examination of institutional budgets, however, over the past 10 years indicates that resources have been adequate at the maintenance level in many areas. But, as previously stated, faculty positions in some areas have remained unfilled, placing additional burdens on other faculty members. These stresses may eventually erode educational quality. OSU's strategic plan and the university's “Restore, Reward, and Grow” plan for faculty addresses this problem.

In spite of the difficulties caused by reduced budgets and increased workloads, OSU's faculty, staff, and administration have maintained a high level of service and educational quality that is recognized throughout the state. Well-recognized indicators of educational success are the status of OSU in the Oklahoma higher educational system, funding relative to other institutions in the system, and educational funding for higher education in Oklahoma relative to other states. Educational and General Budgets Summary and Analysis, Fiscal Year 2005,2.30 from the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education provides information about various aspects of higher education budgets across the state.

Revenue trends for 1995 through 20042.31 reveal budget growth with a decided downturn in state-appropriated income near the end of the period. This downturn was mitigated by a change in state statutes allowing the OSU/A&M Board of Regents to increase tuition as needed to meet budget shortfalls.

OSU plays a prominent role in education, research, and outreach in the state and is recognized by the citizens of the state as an important and valuable resource. The commitment of 15-16% of the state's higher education budget to OSU is perhaps the clearest evidence of citizen support for the institution as expressed through the legislative and appropriations processes.

Undergraduate enrollment growth is another clear indicator that Oklahomans value the educational product OSU delivers and believe that the resource base provided has at least maintained, and in some areas strengthened, the quality of educational programs, despite severe budget restrictions for a few years.

Another indicator that OSU is maintaining its educational quality and value is the fact that the university was identified as one of America's top 20 “Best Values” in public education by Consumer's Digest. The magazine reviewed 3,500 colleges and universities to rank 75 schools as the top values in the United States. The rankings, published in the June 2004 issue, are based on several attributes that validate or define the institution's academic excellence balanced against the annual cost of tuition and room-and-board.

Relative to other states, Oklahoma ranks 34th in total educational funding for public higher education and 24th in funding per $1,000 of personal income. In FY2003, state and local resources for the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station and OCES, important research and outreach agencies affiliated with OSU, ranked 21st among all states. OSU continually seeks to improve the budget base for strengthening educational quality and improving its position relative to similar institutions.

Despite decreased funding, OSU's record of success at program, department, and college levels in meeting and exceeding accreditation guidelines and maintaining accreditation indicates that the university has been able to achieve many of its educational goals. While resources are adequate for the achievement of the institution's broad educational goals, there are areas in which additional resources would result in significant improvements. A 10-year upward trend in enrollment, along with very rapid growth in certain academic programs and colleges, has been met with flat budgets over the past five years and with budget cuts in FY 2002 and FY2003. These conflicting trends have complicated OSU's ability to maintain and improve educational quality.

A decrease in the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty positions, currently estimated to be approximately 100 full-time-equivalents (FTEs), is the most telling result of flat and declining budgets. In addition, programs such as journalism/broadcasting in the College of Arts and Sciences and others in the Spears School of Business provide examples of programs seriously stressed by increased enrollment, coupled with budget declines.

OSU's planning efforts must address the need to increase funding if the university is to continue to meet its expanded educational goals. As previously cited, the newly implemented “Restore, Reward, and Grow” initiative for faculty is one step in this direction. The plan calls for filling faculty positions left vacant due to budget cuts, rewarding outstanding faculty, and adding new faculty.

Resource Planning and Allocation

OSU's past planning processes have been mixed in their flexibility to handle unanticipated needs for program reallocation, downsizing, and growth. In certain areas, plans for resource development and allocation have documented an organized commitment to supporting and strengthening the quality of education, but, overall, the development of plans at the university level was lacking prior to the system-wide strategic planning process.

The university has worked diligently in two arenas to prepare for the future. First, OSU was legally unable to control its tuition structure. To solve this problem, the university participated in a successful lobbying effort to revamp that law. Since the fall of 2003, OSU has been able to charge tuitions that have managed to offset a significant proportion of the budget reversion. Additionally, the central administration is evaluating alternative tuition structures, such as block tuition, that might give the university greater flexibility in tuition income sources while providing students an incentive to graduate earlier and save money. OSU also changed tuition structures to standardize tuition costs for upper- and lower-division courses.

OSU's second proactive stance, in terms of possible shortfalls in state appropriations, was triggered by the OSU/A&M Board of Regents' announcement of a new policy that across-the-board funding cuts are not acceptable. Therefore, the university has started to develop contingency plans in the event of further reductions in state funding. While no state appropriation shortfalls are envisioned in the next few fiscal years, this exercise gives additional impetus to strategic planning. One goal of the strategic planning process is to set university priorities and align funding with the priorities.

The university's budget development process makes yearly decisions about resource allocations for priority positions in teaching and educational facilities. The system calls for priorities to be developed at the academic department level, made part of the budget planning process at the college level, and then addressed at the university level. While OSU has this procedure for “bottom-up” requests, some faculty members and administrators believe that the procedure is not clearly understood across the university and that budgeting has often been “top-down,” regardless of “bottom-up” requests. Historically, the method that the central administration used to rationalize and prioritize college budget requests was described as opaque. The current strategic plan intends to make this process more transparent.

The student fee allocation process is already very transparent with administrators presenting prepared allocations for cultural events in front of student groups. Approximately one-million dollars annually are budgeted by students in this manner.

The OSU-Tulsa budget development, while a separate process, closely parallels that of the Stillwater campus. Mandatory cost increases in benefits and service contracts are calculated by the fiscal office in November of each year for consideration by the State Regents to seek legislative support for new funding. Beginning in January, approximately six months prior to the beginning of the next fiscal year, the fiscal office schedules individual meetings with department heads who have budget control to discuss the priorities of the department for the coming year. These priorities must have been articulated in the department's strategic plan in order to be included in the budget dialogue. Priorities from all departments are consolidated into an agency list for review and consideration by the appropriate vice president and president. Depending upon the availability of funding, priorities are included in the budget for the upcoming year to move the institution incrementally toward the completion of the institution's five-year goals as stated in the strategic plan.

Human Resources

OSU's policies for hiring new employees are outlined in the Office of Human Resources' policies and procedures,2.32 and it is generally assumed that by following these guidelines, the university is successful in hiring quality employees. The unit employing the new individual is expected to provide good initial direction and continue to provide direction and leadership through the appraisal and development (A&D) process. The A&D process requires faculty and staff members annually to document their achievements and, where possible, their quality. The final portion of the documentation relates to employee development plans for the upcoming year. Each employee meets with his or her direct supervisor to discuss the employee's A&D document. That document is passed to the unit head and, for faculty, on to the college dean. These A&D documents are part of the employee's record at the time of promotion or tenure. While policy states that the A&D process must be conducted annually, not all units follow these procedures. A few individuals who have been employed at OSU for many years have never completed an A&D document or met with their supervisor.

When the A&D procedure is followed, it is through this process that the faculty member has some foreknowledge as to his or her status in regard to reappointment, promotion, and tenure (RPT). The RPT process includes an elected advisory committee, the unit head, outside referees, a college advisory committee, the dean, and the provost.

In the OSU system, human resources are used more effectively through the system's ability to eliminate units and programs that are no longer viable or necessary. This type of action is rarely taken, but it has happened. For example, the speech communications degree program and department in the College of Arts and Sciences were eliminated. In this instance, the department was merged with the Psychology Department, and general speech communication classes are still taught by this department. To the credit of the OSU system, the elimination of programs has not been tied to sudden downturns in state funds.

Human resources are developed to meet future changes and needs. In the past several years, the institution has centralized and streamlined its personnel services into a human resources office. This move has benefitted the institution by greatly increasing the flow of information about human resources issues.

OSU also has made major inroads into staff development. The university's Human Resources Training Services,2.33 provides an impressive array of opportunities for developing and adapting human resources. Its services include leadership programs, performance appraisal training, and many other options. These programs are largely aimed at staff functions; however, faculty members certainly can and do participate. The Information Technology Division also offers a considerable number of sessions designed to help faculty and staff make better use of technology in their work.

As previously mentioned in this report, a new Institute for Teaching and Learning Excellence was initiated in 2005. The institute will offer workshops, seminars, a help desk, and one-on-one assistance by instructional designers to help OSU faculty incorporate technology into new and existing courses. It also will provide salary support to faculty to prepare technology-aided courses to reach new and current learners and provide software, equipment, and incentives designed to inspire and enable faculty to add technology to traditional classroom courses. The institute also will research faculty uses of distributed computing and new uses for the internet.

In regard to faculty development, the OSU System will pay for up to six months of a sabbatical leave every seventh year. In a developmental sense, sabbatical leaves could be very useful for retooling tenured faculty in priority and cutting-edge areas. For dual career families with children, however, sabbatical leaves are problematic. Faculty travel is limited by the unit's maintenance budget, and the amount of support varies by unit.

Such examples are evidence that the institution needs to improve its development of its human capital. President Schmidly has committed the university to human resource development, saying that although OSU may be facing a time of financial challenges, it is rich in human capital. He is a strong advocate of programs to develop and attract high-performing team members, including faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends. The university-wide strategic plan should provide an avenue for developing human capital. A Faculty Council recommendation approved by the administration has greatly improved the conditions for sabbatical leave.

Core Component 2c

The organization's ongoing evaluation and assessment processes provide reliable evidence of institutional effectiveness that clearly informs strategies for continuous improvement.

OSU's evaluation and assessment processes are widely recognized as providing reliable evidence of the institution's effectiveness. Outstanding student achievement in the classroom and the national awards students receive are indicators of the effectiveness of OSU's instruction. Another indication is the level of satisfaction that students and alumni report when surveyed about their educational experiences at OSU. In addition, many areas of the university enjoy accreditation by their respective accrediting organizations. Many of these organizations require that effective assessment be demonstrated before accreditation is granted.

Assessment and Evaluation

As its strategic plan outlines, OSU is committed to continual improvement in all its endeavors. The university fulfills this part of its mission through well-established, ongoing evaluation and assessment processes. These processes provide reliable evidence of institutional effectiveness that clearly informs strategies for continual improvement.

Assessment and evaluation initiatives are conducted both internally and externally in several ways and are fundamental to determining progress toward established goals. Assessment is vital to the strategic planning process, effective human resource programs, and resource allocation decisions. The planning process and reporting mechanisms identify institutional, college, and departmental goals and measure progress toward those goals. Performance goals, objectives, and critical success factors are included in the OSU System strategic planning documents.

Evaluation processes require timely and reliable assessment data. The Office of Institutional Research and Information Management maintains a data warehouse of information that is summarized and published in various documents, such as the Student Profile2.34 and Faculty Salary Survey.2.35 These data are obtained principally from administrative databases such as the Student Information System (SIS) and the Human Resources System (HRS). Online access to these data is available to all colleges and units, and the data are used for program review and decision-making.

For faculty and other eligible academic appointees, a peer-review process at the department, college, and university levels is a prerequisite for promotion, tenure, and continuing appointment. The post-tenure review process calls for formal A&D every three years and informal discussions in years between; many unit heads evaluate tenured faculty annually based upon teaching, research, and service accomplishments. Employees who receive satisfactory performance ratings may be eligible for merit raises available for that review period. As previously mentioned, assessment and evaluation processes also are in place to measure human performance and the value of various university support services.

Assessment History

Throughout the past decade, OSU has engaged in a number of activities that have made evaluation and assessment processes increasingly important, and the university community appreciates the value of assessment to program improvement, student learning, and overall institutional effectiveness.

In 1991, the OSRHE mandated that all colleges and universities under its auspices provide assurance of program quality and accountability by documenting progress toward meeting instructional, institutional, and programmatic objectives. In 1992, OSU established the University Assessment Council2.36 (UAC), consisting of 15 faculty, staff, and student members, which developed an assessment program for the university. Students pay an assessment fee to support this activity. On July 1, 1994, the Office of University Assessment (OUA) was created to provide administrative and staff reports for the assessment plan implemented by the UAC. The OUA, now the Office of University Assessment and Testing2.37 (OUAT), is the primary assessment entity on campus, and it has a well-established assessment program.

Assessment Levels

Many assessments are conducted at the course level as a part of the overall assessment of student learning outcomes within degree programs. Examples of course-level assessment include capstone courses; internships or practicum; and course-embedded assessments such as projects, assignments, or examination questions that directly link to program-level expected outcomes and are scored using established criteria.

At the program level, degree programs use additional multiple methods to assess students' achievement of the expected learning outcomes. Documentation of course- and program-level assessment is provided through program assessment plans and annual reports. These documents include statements of expected student learning outcomes; descriptions of methods used to evaluate students' achievement of expected outcomes; results of assessment with interpretation relative to the expected outcomes; and documentation of changes made as a result of assessment for program development.

Institutional-level assessment includes alumni surveys and university-wide surveys such as the National Survey of Student Engagement. The College Student Survey also provides data for assessing students' achievement of expected outcomes. The Office of Student Affairs routinely surveys students about behaviors, including alcohol use, to guide responses and policies.

Assessment Reporting

During the past 10 years, outcomes assessment has become an important, campus-wide activity. All educational programs are required to submit and regularly update assessment plans, perform assessment activities, and write annual summary reports. OSU strives to implement curricular and programmatic changes based on assessment results and findings.

OSU maintains effective systems for collecting, analyzing, and using organizational information. Every OSU degree program, undergraduate and graduate, is required to have an assessment plan that describes expected learning outcomes and the methods used to evaluate achievement of those outcomes.2.38 Appropriate data and feedback loops are used throughout the organization to support continual improvement.

Each plan should include statements about how assessment results will be acted upon to improve academic and student programs. Additionally, each degree program is required to submit an annual assessment report2.39 that describes the methods used to evaluate student achievement, the number of individuals assessed (in each method), the results or findings, how results are interpreted, and specific examples of how assessment results have been or will be used for curricular or other program improvements.

Every three years, each degree program's assessment activities, as described in its assessment plan and annual reports, are reviewed by the UAC. The council provides feedback to the degree program area about ways to strengthen its assessment activities to improve student learning. OUAT financial records outline how the institution has provided financial resources for program outcomes assessment, thereby demonstrating how OSU values and supports assessment as part of continual quality improvement in academic programs. The Assessment Council Policy Statement2.40 documents the university's expectations for program outcomes assessment in all degree programs as part of efforts to develop and improve academic programs. The OUAT website2.41 is a general source of information about OSU's assessment activity at the university, college, and program levels.

Assessment and Academic Program Review

As mandated by the Oklahoma Legislature, the academic program review2.42 (APR) is the method by which the OSRHE and institutions of higher education in Oklahoma evaluate proposed and existing programs. Informed decisions about program initiation, expansion, contraction, consolidation, termination, and resource reallocation result from information developed through analysis and assessment.

Over the past decade, OSU has made significant progress in developing a culture that understands and values potential gains from assessment activities. Implementing assessment recommendations, however, has not been easy. The university's goals for the future remain focused on (a) expanding the number of academic programs that use assessment of knowledge, skills, and competencies to improve student learning, (b) building on initial efforts to systematically assess the effectiveness of the university's general education program, and (c) establishing a system-wide commitment to the value of assessment for continual improvement in student learning and satisfaction.

OSU has a well-established program review process that looks at academic programs on a rolling five-year basis. Programs are evaluated on various criteria, and reviews are conducted by internal (Academic Affairs) and external (OSRHE) constituencies. Special reviews also are conducted for provisional and low-enrollment programs. Beginning in the fall of 2004, academic units were assessed by a “report card” that includes a variety of productivity measures, such as the number of faculty, credit hours, and faculty salaries.

External Accreditation

Several programs within OSU colleges and departments are proud of being fully accredited by both national and state accreditation organizations. The listing of area academic accreditations that includes information about associations, accreditation length, contact person, and concerns stated from the last visit can be viewed at the margin link.2.43 Examples of area accreditations include the National Council for the Association of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation that informs the public that OSU has a professional education unit that has met state, professional, and institutional standards of educational quality. The College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Students also can be assured of high educational standards through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International's (AACSB) accreditation of the Spears School of Business (SSB). A number of other colleges and OSU programs such as interior design and forestry hold accreditation from their respective accrediting organizations.

In addition to program-level and college-level accreditation, many university departments undergo regular external reviews. One example is the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, which is currently undergoing an external review. These reviews examine many areas, including faculty competencies and degree requirements.

Internal Reviews and Planning

As previously stated, beginning at the departmental level, all tenure-track faculty and full-time staff are supposed to participate in annual A&D processes. Annual A&Ds reflect a self-assessment along with an administrative assessment. These assessments address issues related to current productivity and future goals.

At the department/program level, annual A&Ds include budget development. Although the processes for budget development vary among colleges, they generally include deans' solicitations of input from department heads and directors. Department heads and directors are expected to provide evidence of current capacities and needs, focusing on research, teaching, and service. At the college level, similar annual budget meetings take place. During the fall semester, deans provide a report and meet with the provost and relevant vice presidents to discuss current capacities and needs.

There also is significant evidence of planning and capacity assessment at the university level. The most comprehensive was the strategic planning process.2.44 This system-wide process provided interaction between all component parts of the OSU System and its constituents. The process, which is ongoing and comprehensive, requires all system programs to assess current capacities in order to establish achievable goals.

The Office of Budget and Asset Management2.45 holds monthly open meetings with administrators, deans, faculty, and staff representatives to present information concerning current budgetary conditions and constraints to help department and program directors in their planning. This information includes current and projected enrollment data, faculty productivity data, and financial information.

In addition, the Office of University Research Services2.46 conducted a university-wide task force study. The study made recommendations in the areas of recruitment of new faculty; faculty development; university professorships; business plan program training for research entrepreneurial activities; sabbatical leave; recruitment of graduate students; increased library budget; improved building and renovation activities; improved salaries and accommodations for dual career couples; the removal of bureaucratic barriers; and increased publicity for OSU research activities.

The university's master building plan for the OSU-Stillwater campus, maintained by the OSU Physical Plant, is referred to when major university construction is proposed. In addition, the Physical Plant maintains documents describing all campus facilities, as well as areas where buildings can be expanded or constructed. Currently, the university is updating the master plan2.47 for campus layout. Broad public discussions were held with on- and off-campus constituencies to gather input for the future use of the master plan. The OSU/A&M Board of Regents recently approved a new office to manage the bond monies that have been made available to the institutions in the A&M group for facilities improvements.

Utilizing Technology

OSU-Stillwater's and OSU-Tulsa's strategic plans reflect a strong commitment to the continued development and use of technology in the learning environment. As the plans are implemented and their effectiveness is evaluated, adjustments will be made to ensure continual improvement in this area. The university recognizes the need for technology-assisted learning in classrooms and the use of technology to deliver academic programs and coursework through distance learning media. The emphasis on technology is pervasive throughout the university community and includes the commitment of students, faculty, and administration.

The plan also emphasizes that academic excellence should be measured by using such critical success factors as an increased number of technology-supported classrooms; increased numbers of classes and degree programs delivered by distance learning; and an overall commitment to a state-of-the-art technology infrastructure. The university-wide IT plan2.48 also shows a sustained interest in applying technology to the university's diverse functions.


Each summer a joint task force from the OSU Provost's Office and the OSU Physical Plant evaluates all general classroom space to identify and prioritize improvements. During the past ten years, OSU-Stillwater has spent between $200,000 and $400,000 annually for these improvements. OSU also has enjoyed success in providing new facilities in key areas and major renovations in others to meet the university's needs. Many of these additions and improvements have had a direct positive impact on academic programs and the student experience.

The renovation of the Classroom Building and Willard Hall are excellent examples of major projects that directly helped improve the teaching and learning environment. While academic areas of the renovated and expanded Colvin Center only received a “facelift” of new paint and carpeting, other areas provide an outstanding facility for students, faculty, and staff to concentrate on the quality-of-life issues of fitness and health.

Other outstanding major facilities constructed at OSU-Stillwater to meet the needs of students and OSU researchers in the past few years include Engineering's Advanced Technology and Research Center,2.49 Agriculture's Oklahoma Food and Agricultural Products Research and Technology Center,2.50 and the Student Services Center.2.51 The first two improve OSU's research capabilities tremendously, while the Student Services Center has improved overall recruitment, enrollment, financial services, and associated academic and business services for all OSU students. The need for these types of improvements is determined by input from OSU's students and faculty.

Many studies have indicated that today's students prefer living in apartments with amenities instead of traditional residence halls. Improvements to student housing have been a top priority at OSU-Stillwater. The OSU Department of Residential Life2.52 has partnered with private firms to build suite and apartment-style residential buildings. OSU-Stillwater's housing capacity for students is 5,200 beds as of July 2005. Twenty-one residence halls, more than 30 dining options, and seven family apartment neighborhoods provide alternatives to suit the needs of our diverse student populations. Affinity housing options, which are linked closely to academic disciplines and special interests, are available.

As on other campuses, problems associated with the physical facilities can be found. For example, OSU has at least one department with faculty offices in an older residence hall, and another is using a building slated for demolition. There also are still substantial large-classroom scheduling problems in prime mid-day class times.

In addition, several classrooms in buildings that were constructed in the 1950s, such as Agriculture Hall, the Physical Sciences Building, and Life Sciences East, have recently been renovated using funds from a new academic facilities fee. Even older buildings needing renovation, however, are generally serviceable and provide a good, if dated and cramped, working environment.

A higher education bond issue was passed by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2005. These funds will be used on the Stillwater and Tulsa campuses to improve facilities. In Stillwater, bond funds will be used to build new interdisciplinary science and classroom buildings. In addition, Murray Hall will undergo an extensive renovation and will become the new headquarters for the College of Arts and Sciences.

At OSU-Tulsa, construction is underway for the community's first Advanced Technology Research Center2.53 (ATRC). Scientists utilizing this 180,000-square-foot facility will focus on research important to industries in the region, which include aerospace, biotechnology, telecommunications, and manufacturing. In addition to the new educational opportunities that the ATRC will provide, the research center's financial impact could transform the state's economy by creating jobs and attracting industries to the region. The facility was funded by a city/county bond issue, indicating the support of Tulsans for OSU's efforts in the city.

Assessing Facilities

A number of measures, including enrollment and course needs analysis to match room size, capacity, and function, help to ensure that space is effectively assigned, classrooms are appropriately scheduled, and facilities are maintained in the condition necessary to provide long-term support for the programs.

The OSU Physical Plant2.54 supports the mission of teaching, research, and outreach. As with other flagship state universities throughout the United States, the duties of plant operations, maintenance, and capital improvements are delegated to a centralized unit operating under the chief business officer of the system. The assistant vice president for physical plant services serves as both the Stillwater campus operations officer and as the capital development officer for OSU and the A&M colleges throughout Oklahoma. The assistant vice president also serves as an ex-officio member of the Faculty Council Facility and Safety Subcommittee.

External reviews of physical plant operations are conducted on a continual basis. These range from subjective reviews to more rigorous reviews completed by both internal and external auditing committees and groups. Each year, the physical plant undergoes a routine audit of its business functions concerning labor and material matters, including a thorough review of stores operations, a systematic review of labor costs and utilization, equipment inventories, space inventories, etc. Recently, the physical plant's small job contracting program was audited. A critical review of jobs performed by force account labor and purchase orders also was conducted. It is anticipated that the physical plant will begin a systematic review of OSU's equipment salvaging and surplus methods and procedures in July 2005.

In total, the operations of the physical plant are routinely and systematically reviewed at many levels within the university. Furthermore, physical plant management embraces these reviews for the purpose of achieving continual improvement of its services. It should also be noted that various college-level accrediting groups look at an institution's physical facilities during their review processes. The major OSU physical plant improvements since 1995 can be viewed at the margin link.2.55

The OSU-Tulsa campus has the specific advantage of having been built within the last twenty years. Main Hall was dedicated in 1986, and the North Hall, Auditorium and Administration building were all dedicated in 1995. While the facilities are relatively new, a number of modifications have been made as a result of changes in enrollment trends, program expansion, and innovations in technology. These modifications are directly linked to faculty assessment of teaching facilities and equipment needs. In 2001, as a result of dialogue with faculty and assessing research facility needs, the Tulsa campus made a commitment to construct a $43 million engineering and research building. This facility is evidence of assessing and responding to the physical plant needs of the campus.

Resource Development

In certain areas, plans for resource development and allocation show an organized commitment to supporting and strengthening the quality of education. However, the overall development and documentation of comprehensive plans regarding resource development at the university level and below have been lacking until recently.

Deans and other unit heads are responsible for developing annual budget proposals to support academic programs. Guidelines for preparing budget proposals are provided by the president, provost, and vice presidents. These guidelines are based on probable legislative actions and subsequent allocations from the OSRHE. Deans and unit heads seek input from departments and respective faculty and staff to build their budget proposals. While college-level initiatives and plans may influence college-level budget proposals, there has not been a concerted effort to show how budget proposals are directly linked to the improvement of educational quality. The university's strategic plan should help address this issue.

Subsequent budget appropriations are initiated at OSU upon receiving a lump sum allocation of funds from the OSRHE. The central administration allocates money to the major administrative budgets and to the colleges. Each dean and department head is responsible for allocating, administering, and managing respective budgets.

Budgeting and Academic Quality

OSU's Strategic Plan outlines measurable critical success factors associated with the plan's goals and objectives for teaching, research, and outreach for each area of the university. This planning process represents an opportunity to better link resource development and allocation processes with OSU's priority educational goals and objectives.

Private Funding

Evaluation of future funding sources indicates that private funds donated by alumni, friends, foundations, and corporations will be increasingly important to help OSU meet its goals. To be successful, the university administration is working with the OSU Foundation2.56 and OSU Alumni Association.2.57 Both these groups were actively involved with the university-wide strategic planning efforts. This activity has already had tangible success. A private donor, Boone Pickens, gave $70 million to the university for athletic priorities and scholarships. Part of the gift was to complete funding for phase one of the football stadium renovation project, and part of the gift created a trust that will result in a $15 million general university academic scholarship fund. This is the largest individual gift ever to the university.

OSU's largest corporate gift to date is a recent $6 million commitment from ConocoPhillips for the ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center and other campus priorities. The Alumni Center is scheduled to open in the summer of 2005.

The OSU College of Business was renamed the William S. Spears School of Business2.58 in honor of the man who in 2004 gave the university a substantial academic gift of an undisclosed amount. Spears' multi-million dollar gift, much of which qualifies for state matching funds, will provide faculty chairs, fellowships, and endowments that will enable the college to retain and attract additional outstanding faculty. It also will allow the college to provide attractive scholarships to recruit business students from Oklahoma and around the country.

Early in 2005, Devon Energy Corp. presented the university with a $2.3 million gift that will create a world-class geological laboratory and establish scholarship programs in geology and engineering. The 3,300-square-foot Devon Energy Geology Laboratory will be located in the Boone Pickens School of Geology2.59 in the Noble Research Center on the Stillwater campus. The $1.5 million lab will become operational in the fall of 2005. The rest of the gift will fund graduate geology fellowships and undergraduate scholarships in geology and engineering.

In addition, OSU's immediate past president, Dr. James Halligan, emphasized educational excellence. The “Bringing Dreams to Life” campaign was the institutional hallmark of the 1990s. Through this rubric, excellence in teaching was encouraged and rewarded with increased merit pay. Several instructional awards, such as the Regents Distinguished Teaching Awards were also established. These awards are presented annually to eight faculty members from OSU-Stillwater's colleges and schools. Recipients receive a permanent $1,000 salary increase.

Achieving Goals

Overall, OSU has a history of achieving its planning goals. While system-wide comprehensive planning is a relatively new concept at OSU, it is clear that in many areas, plans have been developed and presented; resources identified, obtained, and allocated; and major advances made.

There is no doubt that OSU has evolved to become more proactive with its environment over the last decade. Although, there was no overall system for judging achievement, ample evidence suggests that planning goals have been largely met when proposed. Many of these examples have been previously detailed. OSU's current strategic plan provides methods to measure progress.

At an individual level, as faculty and staff members undergo annual A&D processes, accomplishments are reported and measured against the previous year's plan. At the unit level, unit heads have yearly budget and planning meetings with their respective dean or supervisory vice president. Basic unit efforts are directed, goals set, and, to the extent possible, resources are allocated as a result of this meeting. Each college dean meets and plans with the central administration.

OSU's success in planning and executing the major private funding campaign, “Bringing Dreams to Life,” which raised more than $260 million, was instrumental in the realization of component planning goals and objectives, including facility improvements, new buildings, improved technological capabilities, and newly established professorships and endowed faculty chair positions. Campaign gifts provided for 15 new endowed chairs, 12 new endowed professorships, 16 new endowed lectureships, 19 new Distinguished Presidential Scholarships, and five new Distinguished Graduate Fellowships.

Many excellent examples of the central administration's successful planning and achievement of important goals have been noted earlier. Many of these successes are the result of excellent leadership and salesmanship in particular areas. They also are the result of opportunities presented through special bond issues or other funding avenues; the accumulation of revenue through special fees and charges; or special legislative initiatives at the state and federal levels.

For example, President Halligan stopped 12 years of declining enrollments with student-centered programs and facilities. During this period, the university began a program to groom students for national scholarship competitions that has produced numerous national scholars in nine years, including a Rhodes Scholar. OSU also was named a Truman Honor Institution for its success in producing Truman Scholars.2.60

Financial Evaluations

OSU undergoes periodic evaluation by financial rating organizations and maintains specific bond ratings. OSU's credit rating is regularly monitored by Moody's Investor Services and Standard and Poor's, Inc. These companies provide an in-depth ratings analysis when the university issues bonded debt. For a debt issuance in March 2004, OSU received credit ratings of A1 and A+ by Moody's and Standard and Poor's, respectively.

Outreach Evaluations

Programs offered by the OSU outreach units, both credit and noncredit, are evaluated using instruments developed within each unit. Participants are asked not only to evaluate content, but also to rate physical facilities, amenities, and service rendered by outreach staff.

Because of the diversity of outreach programs, instruments are generally tailored to specific programs, and input is used for planning. In some cases, evaluative information is sought from advisory boards in order to meet specific needs.

Core Component 2d

All levels of planning align with the organization's mission, thereby enhancing its capacity to fulfill that mission.

OSU's strategic plan ensures that all levels of planning align with OSU's mission, which enhances its capacity to fulfill that mission. Coordinated planning processes center on mission documents that define vision, values, goals, and strategic priorities for OSU.

In the past, OSU's annual planning and budget process was loosely linked to the overall planning process. Although there was not a strong focus on a system-wide strategic plan, some colleges and/or divisions developed strategic plans that were used to direct programs in teaching, research, and outreach. For example, the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources developed a strategic plan in 1989 (published in 1992) that provided five-year programmatic planning for the division and its units. Progress measured against that strategic plan was documented in a report in 1996. An update of the division plan was developed in 1999. The 1999 Division Strategic Plan and the component plans of the division's units provided primary input to the system-wide strategic planning process.

The current strategic plans for the various colleges have been carefully developed to align with the university's strategic plan. All departments within the institution have strategic plans that align with the colleges' and OSU's missions. In order to link the operational planning process with the central mission of the university, the system-wide process was initiated in the spring of 2003. The OSU/A&M Regents accepted the report in September 2004. The institution strategic plans for OSU-Stillwater and OSU-Tulsa and plans for all colleges, agencies, and units of those institutions may be viewed from the margin link.2.61

As mentioned earlier, planning processes have been linked to budget development processes on an annual basis. With the university-wide strategic plan, both short- and long-term plans will be linked. At the department/program level, annual processes include budget development. Although the processes for budget development vary among colleges, they generally include deans' solicitations of input from department heads and directors who are expected to provide evidence of current capacities and needs by focusing on research, teaching, and service. Similar annual budget meetings take place at the college level during the spring semester when deans provide a report and meet with the provost and relevant vice presidents to discuss current capacities and needs.

Implementation of OSU's planning is evident in its operations. At the annual spring semester meetings for deans, the provost, and vice presidents, the deans provide performance planning documents that contain historical data, such as research productivity, retention and graduation rates, and student credit hours. One primary function of these documents is to generate discussion in order to ascertain whether units are heading in the right direction. The budget requests are evaluated in light of the information provided in the documents and the resulting discussions.

Although OSU historically has responded to changes on an annual basis, the university's current long-range strategic planning processes have been developed in such a way as to allow for reprioritization of goals when necessary because of changing environments. Recent decreases in state funding and increases in enrollment forced OSU to respond by reallocating money and downsizing to shift resources to meet student learning and research needs. For example, $2 million was removed from the University Extension, International and Economic Development (UEIED) budget, and some staff members were laid off in spring 2004 to allow money to be reallocated for student learning and research needs.

In order to encourage reprioritization, the current strategic planning process utilizes a University Planning Council2.62 of 14 members representing faculty, administrators, staff, and students from across the system. The function of the council is to ensure that units are meeting plan goals and modifying plans when appropriate. Importantly, the current process will require that plans be reviewed each year. The council will report whether the units are meeting their goals and recommend appropriate actions. During the first year of implementation (2004-2005 academic year), the council developed assessment guidelines for reviewing plans and evaluating the degree to which plans have been met. President Schmidly has stated his commitment that resources will be distributed based upon progress made toward meeting goals developed in the strategic plan.

Criterion Two Conclusion


  1. OSU plays a prominent role in education, research, and outreach within Oklahoma and continues to receive the strong support of its citizens.
  2. Units throughout the university constantly monitor societal changes and economic trends in order to effectively fulfill OSU's mission.
  3. OSU's strategic plan, based on assessment planning/budgeting, developed by all stakeholders and constituents within and, where appropriate, outside the organization, allows the university to effectively evaluate and review budgets to ensure fulfillment of OSU's mission.
  4. The university's evaluation and assessment processes provide reliable evidence of the institution's effectiveness.

Challenges: Actions for Going Forward

  1. Increase the percentage of minority enrollment to more closely reflect the state's minority populations.
    ACTION:Continue the off-site recruiting in the state's two major metropolitan areas, focusing on high-achieving minorities. Enrollment Management and Marketing (EMM) has expanded its collaboration with OSU's Multicultural Student Center and plans to work closely with currently enrolled minorities to help with recruitment efforts.
  2. Increase diversity in upper administration, faculty, and staff.
    ACTION:The new OSU Office of Vice President of Institutional Diversity will develop a plan to address the continuing concerns of lack of diversity in upper administration, faculty, and staff.
  3. Ensure that academic programs continue to focus on improving their core strengths and serve their constituencies well.
    ACTION:Follow the recently completed Strategic Plans for all units and continue to monitor whether units are successfully achieving their goals. Respond to success or lack thereof in an appropriate, well-defined manner.


Criterion Two

Table of Contents

Criterion Two: Preparing for the Future


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