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Saying current higher education appropriations will support a four-year university in Tulsa, a state legislator has filed a bill that would create such an institution in the state's second largest city.
"We could end all of the squabbling and give the people of the Tulsa area what they deserve without spending another dime on higher education. All we have to do is take the funding that's now being appropriated to the Rogers University consortium and instead devote it to a four-year university in Tulsa," said Senator Lewis Long.
"The State Regents keep saying they want to do what the people of Tulsa want. The people I've talked to say they want a four-year state university. We have the money to do that so why don't we do it?"
The Glenpool legislator cited appropriations figures showing that Rogers University already receives state appropriations comparable to the other regional universities in Oklahoma.
"When you look at all the funding that already goes into Rogers University, there's no question the state could support a top-flight, four-year university in Tulsa," said Senator Long.
According to FY' 98 appropriations, Rogers University received the third highest level of funding of the state's 11 regional universities.
Univ. of Central Okla.
NE State Univ.
Southwestern State U.
Southeastern State U.
NW State Univ.
Panhandle State U.
Avg. Per Student Funding....$4,167
Avg. Student Rogers Univ....$4,040
In attempting to block a four-year school in Tulsa, opponents have consistently pointed to a supposed lack of funding, claiming there wasn't enough money for a new higher education institution.
"The lack of funding argument doesn't hold water anymore. The only roadblock I can see are entrenched bureaucratic interests trying to protect their own turf at Tulsa's expense," said Senator Long.
The State Regents for Higher Education recently embarked on another shake up of Tulsa's current higher education institution, despite opposition from area students, legislators and business people.
"The State Regents have batted Tulsa students around like a ping pong ball for years. It's about time they gave them a fair shake and a four-year university," said Senator Long.
The lawmaker pointed out that the state's other major metro area has not one, but two major universities.
"If the State Regents can muster up enough money to give Oklahoma City two universities, surely they can't object to us using existing funds to build one four-year school in the Tulsa area," said Senator Long.
He also dismissed opponents who argue Tulsa would only have a "second rate" university. Senator Long called those statements "hogwash."
"While those people were moaning about the possibility of getting a 'second rate' university in Tulsa, Oklahoma City was getting UCO, the third largest school in the state, to go along with OU, the largest school in the state. It's time that Tulsa started building a first rate university, instead of waiting around to see if we can get shafted on higher education one more time," said Senator Long.