The Oklahoma State Senate voted 41-1 Thursday in favor of legislation that calls for the issuance of revenue bonds to help Oklahoma “catch up” on state matching funds for endowed chairs at the state’s colleges and universities.
The measure, which was amended by the Senate, will now return to the House of Representatives.
“Our university presidents have done a tremendous job of obtaining private donations for endowed chairs, but we’ve been unable to keep up with the state’s matching funds. With this legislation lawmakers can do their part.” Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson said.
Hobson said the history of the endowment program has shown that the state’s matching funds are an investment in the future of Oklahoma.
“The legislation will pay huge educational dividends for the next generation of Oklahomans,” Hobson said.
At the University of Oklahoma, for example, the increase in the number of endowed faculty positions is credited with increasing research funding – from all sources – to a record $193 million in 2003, Hobson said.
The endowment program was established to enhance the quality of higher education in Oklahoma by providing state funds as a match for private donations for endowed chairs, distinguished professorships, visiting professorships, artists-in-residence, and lectureships.
The program has enabled colleges and universities to attract approximately $191 million in private gifts to establish endowed positions. To date, the state has matched $147.7 million.
House Bill 1904 will allow the issuance of bonds not to exceed $50 million to help the state fill in the remaining current gap in matching funds, said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Mike Morgan.
Morgan, D-Stillwater, and House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Billy Mitchell, D-Lindsay, are authors of the measure.