Transformation requires thousands of pushes, big and small, accumulated one after another. There is no miracle moment. Instead, a down-to-earth, pragmatic, committed-to-excellence process.
- Jim Collins, Good to Great
Regents' Update
by Susan Winchester, Chair
As our state's foremost provider of higher education in rural communities, we know the widespread ripple effect that quality, affordable higher education can have throughout the state. A recent headline in the Chronicle for Higher Education asserted that Regional Public Universities Don’t Need Rescuing. The authors of the article, the Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges, assert that the only thing regional universities need is a reversal of their history of underappreciation and underfunding from public policy makers.
A decade of state budget cuts to higher education amounting to 35% less funding today (some of the nation's deepest education funding cuts) have greatly impacted regional universities, but we have maintained our stability. The Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO) has a very lean administrative overhead. Like other regional universities, we often rely on one person to tackle critical tasks that other colleges assign to entire teams. However, as the authors note, being stable and thriving are two different things. It is time to change direction and prepare for our current population and our future workforce to thrive. 

Oklahoma regional higher education consistently generates a return on investment of $9.55 for every dollar of funding given to RUSO by the state. The regional university system’s annual economic impact is more than $1.3 billion. RUSO universities enroll more than 45,000 students annually, employ more than 4,100 Oklahomans and are pivotal in creating our state’s supply of nurses and teachers. We are a pipeline to the workforce in fields like aviation, pharmacy, optometry and forensic science. Ninety-two percent (92%) of RUSO graduates are employed in Oklahoma within one year of graduation. Our graduates go on to contribute to the economic vitality of the state, help raise the per capita income, contribute to the tax base, and significantly impact the quality of life in communities across the state. Local and state economic development entities consistently report that an educated workforce is the most important factor to businesses scouting new markets.

Regional universities don’t need rescuing, but they do need advocates - legislators, business owners, alumni, faculty and staff - who will actively speak up and share the impact of RUSO and our graduates. An investment in higher education is the best investment in the future of Oklahoma.
Update from RUSO
Dr. Diana Lovell named 18th president of Southwestern
We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Diana Lovell as the 18th president of Southwestern Oklahoma State University! Lovell has served as Vice-Chancellor of Student Services, Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of History at Blinn College since 2012 and she will start as SWOSU president on July 1.

Dr. Lovell’s ability to build innovative programs and create community connections will not only grow the enrollment of SWOSU but also demonstrate the great value of higher education. Read more
2021 virtual Higher Education Day
The Regional University System of Oklahoma participated in the first virtual Higher Education Day on March 9, 2021. Alongside the rest of Oklahoma’s higher education institutions, RUSO appealed to lawmakers for better funding and support, as well as to students and faculty for their time and effort in advocating for higher education.

Over 6,000 people saw and shared our messages on Twitter, and Facebook viewership was up 63% that day. Several universities sent contingencies of students to visit lawmakers both virtually and in-person- and their conversations focused on supporting student aid, better funding for higher education in Oklahoma and concurrent enrollment. Given the struggles we faced, organizing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, our students and faculty made this year a big success!
Benefits Update
Telemedicine Available for
Faculty & Staff
from Crystal Chavez, RUSO/OKHEEI Benefits Coordinator
Speak with a doctor- anytime, anywhere!
Getting sick after hours or on weekends used to mean a long, costly trip to the emergency room or urgent care center. Now, with your virtual visits benefit, provided by AETNA TelaDoc or BCBS of Oklahoma MDLive, the doctor is in 24/7/365. And you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home.
Virtual visits allow you to consult a doctor for non-emergency situations by phone, mobile app or online video anytime, anywhere. 

Why virtual visits?
  • 24/7 access to board-certified doctors
  • Access via phone, online video or mobile app from almost anywhere
  • Average wait time of less than 20 minutes
  •  If needed, get a prescription sent to your local pharmacy

Virtual visit doctors can treat a variety of non-emergency conditions, including:
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Cold/flu
  • Ear infections
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Insect bites
  • Nausea
  • Pink eye
  • Rash
  • Sinus infections
Activate your telemedicine account by choosing one of the following options:
·        Call MDLife at 888-976-4081
·        Go to
·        Text BCBSOK to 635-483
·        Download the MDLIVE app

For UCO Employees:
·        Visit or 1-855-TELADOC (835-2362)
RUSO universities serve as a ladder to success. Our programs are affordable and graduates make higher than average incomes compared to their communities.
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RUSO drives Economic Development
Northeastern State University
Provides Ophthalmic Continuing Education

NSU’s Oklahoma College of Optometry has trained eye doctors from across the nation on laser procedures, injections around the eye, eyelid lump and bump removal, and other various office-based ophthalmic procedures. Only six states currently allow optometrists to do certain laser procedures and now NSU’s optometry college is a training institution for doctors seeking to be able to get these privileges.  Read More
Southwestern Oklahoma State University Launches Tourism Initiative at Crowder Lake 
Southwestern Oklahoma State University has launched an initiative to increase tourism at Crowder Lake- located just seven miles from the Weatherford campus. The newly formed ‘Friends of Crowder Lake’ is a nonprofit organization established to provide conservationists, and nature lovers a way to positively impact Crowder Lake through charitable investment. In addition to area conservation, a groundbreaking ceremony for the Dr. Ken Rose Memorial Playset at the Crowder Lake University Park is scheduled for March 27. Read more
Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Serves Seniors During Tax Season

Tax season is upon us, and while many enjoy convenient online filing solutions, Oklahoma seniors struggle without access to technology. AARP is partnering with Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant to offer the Tax-Aide program. Students get to file taxes for anyone who comes in, and it counts towards a school or internship credit. It’s an incredible, hands-on learning opportunity for students that also provides a much-needed public service.  Read More
Student Spotlight
ECU's Higher Ed Day Contingency
East Central University legal studies students, Shavon Harrison, Tyson Hammons, and Casen Lauderdale shared why their regional university served them so well. These ambitious students are getting the quality, affordable educations they need to reach their big dreams while staying near their rural communities. They’re each gearing up for seriously impactful careers and we’re so glad they’re a part of our RUSO network!
Mekenzie Cruz, class of 2022
Mekenzie Cruz, a junior at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, made a compelling case for concurrent enrollment in Oklahoma. Mekenzie began her college education as a junior in high school, and it helped her not only get ahead but also save money in tuition costs for herself and her family. Today she is pursuing a double major- theater acting and directing, and theater management and promotion- at SEOSU and it’s thanks to Oklahoma’s support for concurrent enrollment that she will be a powerful force for the arts in our state once she graduates!
It’s been wonderful hearing the future of Oklahoma speak for themselves on the value of their education, and we know their impact was felt at the capitol.
Alumni Success Stories
UCO Graduate and Teacher Leads District Development
Oklahoma City’s Capitol Hill district is growing in recognition for its bastion of culture, art, and thriving businesses. Behind the incredible development in Capitol Hill is a University of Central Oklahoma graduate Gloria Torres. Torres has accomplished a lot in her district and in her life. An elected school board member- the first Latina woman to serve- and the executive director of Calle Dos Cinco, she is an advocate and leader for her community, from its youngest members up to its economic drivers. Read more
Labor and Delivery Nurse's Family Legacy at NWOSU
Cheney Bird grew up knowing that three generations of the Bird family before her were Northwestern Oklahoma State University graduates, so when she approached high school graduation, the choice to enroll felt like a given. Today, Bird works as a labor and delivery nurse in Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center. Read more
Great Happenings at Your Regional University
Oklahoma’s 2021 Teacher of the Year is still in school – at East Central University. Jessica Eschbach, who currently teaches in the Norman school system, received the prestigious honor from the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The award has been presented annually since 1955. Read more

Earlier this month, the University announced it had set a school record for the highest enrollment in a spring semester with 5,010 students. Now, with an eye to the future, Southeastern has a number of new facilities in the works — some complete, and some in the planning stages.

For more than 40 years Northeastern State University’s Oklahoma College of Optometry has provided a nationally-recognized optometry education. Now NSU is dedicating a fundraising effort to building a new facility for their distinguished optometry program! The project is estimated at $33 million. The goal is to raise half of the total cost of the project through private donations with the remainder to be funded with institutional infrastructure reserves, auxiliary revenues, and a revenue bond. Learn more

Southwestern Oklahoma State University’s Physics Club in Weatherford has been named a “Distinguished Chapter” by the national office of the Society of Physics Students (SPS). The SWOSU organization, a small but active group, was recently featured in the SPS Observer, a quarterly magazine of SPS. Learn more

Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s social work program has been awarded a $40,000 grant by the Child Welfare Professional Enhancement Program Student Payback Fund Grants to develop active learning environments for social work students. The grant project will improve the educational technologies, resources, and spaces provided to social work students to increase their learning engagement, skill development, and preparedness for professional practice.

While some schools are fully in-person now or on a mixed schedule, many still rely on some form of virtual classes. Now, professors at the University of Central Oklahoma are offering a toolkit on how to take on the role of teacher for K-12 students. In this new online toolkit, parents and caregivers can find instructional videos on how to navigate the role of teaching. Read more
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