Constitutional questions about the Board of Regents for Oklahoma Colleges authority over Rogers State University could require the two entities to part ways, according to a Senator who is drafting legislation to correct the problem.
"We've discovered that putting RSU under the Board of Regents for Oklahoma Colleges may violate the state constitution. The only way to set things right is to dissolve the union as quickly as possible and put RSU somewhere else. I think a logical place is under the wing of the OU Board of Regents," said Senator Cal Hobson (D-Lexington), author of SB 164 and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.
According to the State Constitution, the Board of Regents for Oklahoma Colleges (BOROC) can govern only six institutions - Northeastern State University, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, University of Central Oklahoma and East Central University.
However, a seventh institution, RSU, was placed under BOROC last year as part of the Tulsa higher education settlement. The constitutional conflict wasn't realized until this year when concerns were raised by the legal counsel for the State Regents for Higher Education.
If the constitutional conflict is not addressed, it could jeopardize the legitimacy of contracts, pensions, bond issues and other legal agreements executed by RSU under BOROC's governing authority.
"We have a large problem brewing and it's critical that we address it before it gets out of hand. I don't see that we have a choice in the matter," said Hobson.
The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents has offered to serve as the governing authority for RSU. In addition to overseeing the operations of OU, the board governs Cameron University in Lawton, a school with a similar mission as RSU.
"I think the OU Regents and RSU will be a good fit. Cameron has enjoyed a positive relationship and I¹m sure RSU will be no different," said Senator Hobson, who also indicated that area legislators were supportive of the solution.