The Edmond Sun
University of Central Oklahoma’s President Don Betz began the school year with his Report to the Community 2013 as he shared the university’s mission, plans and current initiatives by outlining the strategic plan, Vision 2020, to strengthen the university’s capacities to meet the needs of the region.
Betz said since the founding as the Territorial Normal School of Oklahoma in 1890, Central has been passionate about learning, leading and serving, and about cultivating generations of ethical and engaged citizens and leaders.
“Education matters to the future of our families, communities and state,” Betz said. “We are and have been of this place for 125 years. This place matters.”
Vince Tinto, a speaker at UCO’s March Transformative Learning Conference, said, “You never help a student by expecting less than what they can do. No one rises to low expectations.”
The president, faculty and staff are offering transformative educational experiences so that students may be productive, creative, ethical and engaged citizens and leaders serving the global community.
“UCO contributes to the intellectual, cultural, economic and social advancement of the communities and individuals it serves,” Betz said.
The way students definitively learn is changing and that is being re-imagined to creative transformative learning and high impact learning opportunities for students of all ages, Betz said.
“We envision an Oklahoma comprised of an abundance of citizens with enhanced critical thinking, communication and collaboration capacities to imagine, create, innovate and solve problems. In this way, Oklahoma will prosper in this knowledge-driven global era.
“This report emphasizes our pathway to helping students learn and communications thrive.”
Vision 2020 has two key goals, and last year the initial phase of Vision 2020 was completed.
“The first is ensuring our students are competent within their disciplines with skills augmented through experiences in leadership, research, civic and international activities and personal health and wellness,” Betz said.
Secondly, UCO is committed to serving Oklahoma City’s seven-county region as the area’s metropolitan university.
“To accomplish this Central will continue to grow intentional partnerships with businesses, industry, government, nonprofits and educational institutions,” Betz added.
Oklahoma’s third largest higher education institution is an accredited, four-year public institution serving more than 17,000 students in Edmond.
Central’s commitment to excellence has been acknowledged by leading educational authorities including the U.S. News & World Report naming Central to its 2012 Best Colleges List. Forbes honored UCO as one of its best 650 undergraduate institutions. For the fourth time in five years, The Chronicles of Higher Education named UCO as one of the “2012 Great Colleges to Work For.”
The campus offers more than 200 student organizations offering internship opportunities and the enhanced entertainment and cultural opportunities of a metropolitan area.
“Central is deemed an investment for success, preparing future leaders in an opportunity-rich environment whose students find the tools they need to succeed,” Betz said.
Three new degree programs were created including new master’s degrees in Forensic Psychology, Public Administration and Nursing.
More than 3,000 degrees were awarded to UCO students last year.
Committed to making Oklahoma a model for states supporting Complete College America, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has called for a 67 percent increase in Oklahoma college degrees during the next 12 years.
In the fall of 2012, Central was one of 29 institutions, out of nearly 340 applicants, to receive a $251,396 grant from TG, a public, nonprofit based in Round Rock, Texas. Using those funds, Central expanded its Operation Degree Completion program. In the first two years the program helped more than 650 students return and achieve bachelor’s degrees.
“In three years, we expect 2,292 new associate’s and bachelor’s degree graduates through this program,” said Jay Corwin, associate vice president of Enrollment Management and project director.
Creating Safer Communities
In December the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation awarded its Director’s Award for Law Enforcement to UCO’s Dwight Adams, director of Central’s W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute.
More than 500 law enforcement members worldwide have taken classes through UCO’s Forensic Science Institute. Enrollment in the program has risen to an all-time high of 500, from the 100 students enrolled when the program started in 2009.
In September UCO announced its largest fundraising endeavor in university history — the Always Central campaign — with $35 million already raised toward the $40 million goal for scholarships, teaching facilities, programs and the future.
Construction on the CHK/Central Boathouse on the Oklahoma River is being made possible because of a $2.5 million gift made by MidFirst Bank. Earmarking $2 million for the boathouse, when completed in 2014 it will be home to the Central Women’s Rowing team.
The MidFirst gift also includes $500,000 to endow a faculty chair and assist with the university’s efforts to renovate Old North. More than $1 million in private gifts have been raised for the Old North Renovation Project.
The Always Central campaign now enters its final phase — raising $5 million to complete Old North.