Dear Colleagues, 

I want to share with you how the universities in the Regional University System of Oklahoma are transforming the lives of students across the state. We invite you to share the newsletter and contact the universities for more information and opportunities for collaboration. 

Regent Lake Carpenter


The GREATNESS of an institution ALWAYS begins with PEOPLE
-Jim Collins
 Regent's Update

By Lake Carpenter, RUSO Chair
Many changes are happening within RUSO-- from within our institutions to governance decisions on the regent level. The articles below detail some of these changes.

This is a challenging time not only for our regional universities, but also all of higher education . Undaunted by the 16% decrease in state appropriations we continue to move forward. Two RUSO institutions, SWOSU and NWOSU, have increased enrollment. Monica Varner, associate provost for Academic Affairs at SWOSU shares ideas on how her institution found success through data-driven decisions.

Health insurance is another change this year. Whitney Popchoke, RUSO/OKHEEI Benefits coordinator, outlines these changes and where to access more information.

The RUSO regents have been busy setting goals and evaluating impact within their assigned committees. For example, the facilities stewardship committee is conducting comprehensive campus tours to provide guidance and oversight regarding long-range facilities planning and optimizing capital assets.  We will communicate other committee outcomes as they become available.

It takes a mighty crew to navigate tumultuous waters and bring the ship to safe harbors. During these educational "storms" I applaud you and appreciate your continued dedication to ensuring our Oklahoma students have the opportunity for better life through a high-quality affordable college education. 

Photo courtesy of East Central University
  Did You Know?

    Nearly half (45%) of RUSO               students have a family income 
    less than $40,000?

Photo courtesy of East Central University, Information source College Scorecard

Every Student Counts: Using Data to Improve Student Retention
By Monica Varner, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Academic Affairs,  Southwestern Oklahoma State University
Higher educational institutions across Oklahoma are facing decreased enrollment numbers. Despite a depressed economy and state budget cuts, data-mining can help maintain, or potentially increase, enrollment and retention. The answer lies within your institutional data.

The following are examples of readily available information from IPEDS Feedback Reports to help start formulating your student profiles. Each institution can seek and extract their own institutional data to identify gaps and successes.
Enrollment Rates:
Evaluate the number of first-time students who applied, were admitted, and enrolled full and part time.
For example:  University A had 2,632 applicants, 2,244 admitted, but only 881 enrolled full time and 18 enrolled part time. Questions to ask, where did 1,363 students go? Did they attend somewhere else?  Why didn't they enroll with University A?  

To help find the answers compare the differences in students who enrolled, those who did not go to college, or attended somewhere else. The strategy is to identify the characteristics of the target population and design an intentional recruiting plan that specifically addresses students' interests and demographics. 
Retention Rates : The retention rate for RUSO institutions ranges  from 60% to 66%. College unpreparedness is the most common explanation for student attrition. The 2015 Condition of College and Career Readiness Report by ACT reveals that 33% of Oklahoma students achieved the college science readiness score of 22, 34% achieved the math readiness score of 22 and 47% achieved the reading readiness score of 23. All RUSO institutions report that 25% of students achieve a 19 or lower on the ACT composite score. They also report that 25% of students receive an ACT Math score and English score of 18 or lower.  

To advance student success and retention determine where freshman students' stand based on performance levels in Reading , Writing, Math, and Critical Thinking. Based on the results, the university can create a targeted and intentional intervention that addresses student learning needs of a certain cohort. 
Core Expense by Function:
Each higher educational institution dedicates money towards different functions. To determine if investments are having a positive impact on student success the institution should compare institutional successes and gaps. 

For example: 
University A invests 5% in academic support and has a retention rate of 66%. 
University B invests 12% in academic support and has a retention rate of 60%.  
University C invests 4% in academic support and has a retention rate of 66%.
While the data shows all three universities are losing 34% - 40% of their freshman class, University C's academic support interventions are more effective.  University C invests less money toward student support, while achieving the same, or higher, retention rate than universities A and B.  To increase retention, the university should invest money in student success interventions that are specific to their student population.
These are just a few of the ways higher educational institutions can use data to recruit and retain students. For more information or to discuss further, contact me at 580-774-3252 or  [email protected] .
RUSO 2016 Enrollment
 Below is the official enrollment data. The information compares fall 2015 to fall 2016.

% Change
% Change
Student Credit Hours
% Change
University of Central Oklahoma
12, 525
Northeastern State University
Southwestern Oklahoma State University
East Central University
Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Northwestern Oklahoma State University

First Time Freshmen 
% Chang e
Online Credit Hours
% Change
University of Central Oklahoma 2,299 (-5.5%) 25,207 4.1%
Northeastern State University 887 9.5% 23,162 8.0%
Southwestern Oklahoma State University  947  2.9% 11,019 17.6%
East Central University 601 (-19.8%) 5,578 22.7%
Southeastern Oklahoma State University 519 9.0% 12,431 36.9%
Northwestern Oklahoma State University 402 8.6% 3,741 20.3%

RUSO Moves to Self-Insurance
By Whitney Popchoke, RUSO/OKHEEI Benefits Coordinator
Seven years ago, RUSO joined the Oklahoma Higher Education Employee Interlocal Group, an insurance purchasing consortium that consists of RUSO and six other colleges in Oklahoma. These institutions joined forces to gain a competitive advantage in the healthcare marketplace. After analyzing several insurers and their benefit offerings through a request for proposal process, OKHEEI chose to move to a self-funded medical plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, rather than staying fully-insured as of January 1, 2017. 
BCBS will continue to be the preferred medical network and administer the plan and pharmacy. Changing to a self-funded plan allows OKHEEI to gain control of future claim costs and have more access to reporting information and data analytics. Moving to a self-funded plan better aligns with employers, both within and outside of higher education, that are a similar size as OKHEEI. The end result is the employee and their dependents have more opportunities to save money on out-of-pocket expenses.

While a self-funded plan does have more risk associated with it than a fully-insured plan, there is stop loss insurance to minimize this risk. Stop-loss insurance reimburses OKHEEI for medical claims after reaching a predetermined amount. The stop-loss insurance carrier is SunLife.

Since OKHEEI will cover all medical claims, we encourage members to utilize BCBS's online cost estimator and ZeroCard to find the lowest cost option for major procedures. To access the online cost estimator visit, Login and click on the cost estimator on the right.

To access the Z eroCard visit or (855) 816-0001. The Zero Card provides a low cost for the employer for services rendered and NO COST to the employee. Services include, but are not limited to: MRI, general surgery, sleep studies, gastroenterology, etc. 

  There are a limited number of changes in benefits. These are as follows: 
The OKHEEI Board voted to implement three cost-saving options through the pharmacy.

1) Proton Pump Inhibitors will no longer be covered under the plan. Members have two options to acquire the PPIs. These are available over the counter at a low cost or through a prescription at the full cost of the prescription for members. Employees who wish to use their Flexible Spending Account money on this item will need to get a prescription from their doctor for the PPI and submit their costs for reimbursement.
2) Members pay the cost difference between a name brand and generic prescription if there is a generic option and the members requests the brand name prescription. The fee is waived if the doctor specifies that the member must have the brand name prescription.
3) CVS Pharmacies will no longer be a covered pharmacy. This includes CVS Pharmacies that are in Target.
Delta Dental Oklahoma is the new dental insurance with a three-year rate guarantee. It has a greater number of in-network dentists based on OKHEEI's current utilization and a lower rate for most tiers.  The High and Low Dental plans will be the same as BCBS with minimal exceptions:
  • There is no waiting period for orthodontia (high plan only)
  • Orthodontia coverage is available for child dependents up to the age of 26, rather than 19 (high plan only)
  • A third dental plan is being added for 2017 through Delta Dental. The Preventive Only plan covers only preventive and basic services for the member.
Members on the Preventive Only plan must see a dentist in the PPO Network. This plan is not available for Premier or Out-of-Network dentists.
Vision Insurance, Life Insurance, and Long Term Disability did not change. The plans are on a rate guarantee through 2018.
For more information about health benefit contact your university's human resources department or visit OKHEEI.
Six Questions
An interview with Regent Mark Stansberry, a RUSO regent 
from 2001 to 2010  and began his second term in 2015.
1. What is the most rewarding part of being a regent?
The most rewarding part of being a regent is seeing the smile of a student receiving a diploma. 

2. What is the best advice you've ever received?
Don't ever forget where you came from.

3. If you could have dinner with anyone from history, 
who would it be, and why?  
In modern history, I would have dinner with Dwight D. Eisenhower. While serving as U.S. President, he founded People to People International, along with Bob Hope, Walt Disney and a few others. 

The worldwide headquarters for PTPI became Kansas City in 1961. President Eisenhower served as its first chairman. PTPI recently celebrated its 60th Anniversary in Kansas City.
At age 12, I wrote a get-well letter to him at his Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, farm after one of his illnesses. To my surprise, I received a card from him thanking me for the letter. 

I had the honor of serving as chairman of PTPI worldwide operations from 2009 to 2013 and acting CEO of worldwide operations in 2013. I would like to discuss so many topics with him including his leadership style, world history, his service as a general and president, and of course, PTPI. 

4. What is most significant change you've observed in higher-ed since graduating from college?
The most significant change is the source of funding for the RUSO system. In 1988, the state provided 75% of the funding for the system. When I became a RUSO regent in 2001, state funding was approximately 60%. Now it is closing in on 33%.

5. If you could be a superhero, who would you be?
I would be Superman. As a child, I would role play being Superman. 

In fact, one Christmas, my sister made me a Superman outfit. I changed into the outfit as soon as I could after receiving the gift. I ran into the living room showing off the muscles "that I thought I had" and exclaimed "more powerful than a locomotive!" 

A few years ago, I had a very small part in the movie  "Superman Returns," which starred Brandon Routh, a former Superman. That is the closest I have been to a Superman. 

6. What is one item on your bucket list?
First of all, at my age, I don't refer to a bucket list instead to a journey list. One item on my list is to have an art show/display. 

Over the last year or so, I have taken encaustic art lessons. Encaustic is an ancient technique. Encaustic is a Greek word meaning "to heat or burn in." Heat is used throughout the process, from melting beeswax and varnish to fusing the layers of wax. Pigments may be added to the medium. The medium is melted and applied with a brush or any tool the artist wishes to create from. Each layer is then reheated to fuse it to the previous layer. -- I look forward to checking this off my journey list!
Regent Updates
Hargrave to Retire as President

East Central University President John Hargrave announced his retirement effective March 1. Hargrave became ECU president in 2009 and is the eighth president in the history of the institution. 

"In just seven short years, President Hargrave's record of accomplishments and his impact on students has been remarkable," RUSO Chair Lake Carpenter said. "East Central University is a stronger, more engaged university due to his leadership."

Under Hargrave's leadership ECU has improved average faculty and staff salary and benefits, as well student retention and graduation rates. He oversaw the completion of a $5 million remodel of the Education Center, the building of the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center and the Center for Undergraduate Research and Learning and a $5 million endowment for the Commitment to Championships campaign.

"On behalf of the RUSO regents, I want to express my deepest gratitude to President Hargrave for his dedicated service to higher education," Carpenter said. "I am confident that we will identify an outstanding candidate who will lead ECU boldly in the years ahead."

Hargrave has deep roots and a special connection to ECU. Eighteen members of his family attended or graduated from the university, beginning with his grandparents. Hargrave graduated from ECU with honors in 1977.  

RUSO Regents Conducting National Search for Next ECU President

T he RUSO Board of Regents of the Regional University System of Oklahoma is conducting a national search for the ninth president of East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. The board
invites nominations and applications from qualified candidates who have a proven leadership in developing and executing a vision of academic excellence.

RUSO encourages applicants with the following skills: understands a diverse and dynamic academic environment; is committed to high-quality undergraduate and master's level education; and connects with students, faculty, alumni, the ECU community and governmental entities and leaders. A full description of qualifications and an application can be found at . All applications will remain confidential.
Nominations should include the nominee's current title, addresses, phone numbers and resume and a letter of interest demonstrating how the candidate is qualified. Submit information to Sheridan McCaffree, RUSO executive director, at [email protected].  
Regent Connie Reilly is leading the presidential search committee. A review of candidates will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.
Amy Ford Appointed RUSO Regent

Amy Ford, a business developer and consultant from Durant, was appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin to serve as a RUSO regent. Ford began serving immediately but her appointment still must be confirmed by the Senate when it convenes next session.

Ford previously served on the Oklahoma State Board of Education and the Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology. She also served as chairman of the Oklahoma Standards Setting Steering Committee.

Ford will fill the Position 7 seat on the RUSO board of regents. It covers Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Choctaw, Latimer, LeFlore, Love, Marshall, McCurtain, Pittsburg, and Pushmataha counties.

She is a partner in RedAnt, LLC, which provides comprehensive business development, management, messaging and strategic public relations consulting services. Ford previously owned NEON, Inc., an emergency physician-staffing company, which employed more than 100 physicians in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. She and her husband also own and operate a cow-calf operation in Bryan County.

Great Happenings at Your Regional University
For inspiration and collaboration learn more about 
what is happening  at regional universities.

Bridging the gap between sustainable water management and economic development is the goal of the newly-established Oka' Institute at ECU. In addition to serving  as a federal and state depository library for this area of the state and the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, ECU plans  to expand degree options to include a master's degree in water policy management, 
Learn More

The "Monument to Forgiveness" has reached its final destination after traveling throughout the country. The statue created by artist Francis Jansen is to foster reconciliation in perpetuity for the suffering endured by Native Americans along the Trail of Tears. After traveling to hosting destinations across the country, the statue will be permanently housed at the university.
Northwestern's graduate program received its first Fulbright Scholarship recipient Riskariyani Amin . Amin, from Indonesia, has a bachelor's degree in English literature from Hasanudding University. Through the Fulbright Program she will earn her master's degree in American Studies from Northwestern.
Learn More

SOSU received a $500,000 grant to continue its Educational Opportunity Centers program. The EOC program identifies and provides services for individuals from disadvantaged background such as low-income individuals, first-generation college students, veterans, military-connected students and individuals with disabilities to support their progress through the academic pipeline from middle to post-baccalaureate programs. Learn More 

SWOSU now offers a fully online Master of Science in Nursing program. The program is designed for those who already hold a Bachelor's degree in accredited nursing programs or those enrolled in their last semester of a Bachelor's degree in nursing program. Nearly 40 students have enrolled in the inaugural program Learn More

The Chronicle of Higher Education named UCO as one of the "2016 Great College to Work For." Central is the only public higher education institution in the state recognized on the list, and one of only a handful of institutions in the nation given the distinction of being named to the "Honor Roll" for being cited most often among the recognition categoriesLearn More

Regional University 
System of Oklahoma
3555 N.W. 58th Street, Suite 320
Oklahoma City, OK 73112
405.942.8817 Phone
405.942.8847 Fax