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Regents approve cost cutting measures

The Northern Oklahoma College Board of Regents voted Feb. 15 to take action on a proposal that has been in the works for many months. The plan was in relation to reducing the FY2024 budget. The current FY2023 budget used one-time pandemic relief funds to balance the budget. As those funds are no longer available for FY2024, the college’s budget will need to be reduced by $1.5 million to balance the budget.   The plan that was approved was a culmination of analyzing cost reduction strategies that were suggested by employees and strategies identified by the Executive Council.

“The process to determine areas that could be cut was difficult.” said NOC President Clark Harris.  “The NOC Executive Council worked diligently over the last several months to identify areas in the budget that can be reduced. We examined a vast number of suggested cost-saving and revenue generating strategies. We especially kept in mind the guiding principle to look at Reductions in Force as a last resort. The decision to discontinue programs and eliminate positions at the college were not taken lightly, as these decisions are among some of the most difficult decisions any college must make.”

The NOC executive council has been meeting weekly focused solely on evaluating the current fiscal situation with the goal to manage significant reductions in the current budget while continuing to emphasize the NOC strategic goals and preserve the high quality of instruction and the college experience at Northern Oklahoma College.

The budget plan was presented and approved today at the NOC Board of Regents meeting and shared with employees afterwards. Included in the plan are a combination of resignations, retirements and a limited number of Reduction In Force (RIF).

“As NOC strives to be fiscally responsible. we are aware of the impact of budget cuts on all of our NOC family. The faculty and staff have come together to recommend cuts while keeping our high standards of educational experiences for our students top of mind.” said Regent Jamie Groendyke, Chair of the NOC Board of Regents. “We believe these cuts will ultimately better the financial position of the college and streamline our processes so our focus can continue to be on our students.”

The proposed budget cuts and revenue generating strategies approved include:

  • Reevaluate rental rates for all campus facilities including residence halls and rental property in Enid and Tonkawa, and meeting rooms and venues utilized from outside groups.
  • Enforce Student Housing Policy in Enid and Tonkawa for freshman and participation students living on campus.
  • Continue to identify strategies to recruit new students and improve practices across the college to retain students. While the ten-year trend has shown a declining enrollment, NOC is up five percent for the spring semester, and we want to continue these aggressive strategies.
  • Reevaluate charging admissions to activities and events at the college. The Fine Arts division will begin charging for events, beginning with the upcoming musical Sweeney Todd in March.
  • Continue fundraising efforts and develop new fundraising initiatives associated with Building a Better NOC.
  • Explore grant opportunities to enhance campus safety as well support our programs and students.
  • Implement a one-time offering of a supplemental retirement option for eligible faculty and staff.
  • Shift employee health benefits to a “defined contribution” plan beginning January 1, 2024.
  • Adjust faculty compensation for overload courses and evaluate stipends and release times.
  • Implement Purchase Cards (P-Cards) or credit card program for employees to utilize for purchases authorized by the college.
  • Implement several energy savings strategies and maximize use of facilities across the institution including consolidating building usage for night classes, closing some buildings in the summer and closing one dorm in Tonkawa.
  • Discontinue Competitive Cheer on the Enid and Tonkawa campuses at the end of the Spring 2023 semester. Scholarships extended to current freshman cheer team members that have already signed Letters of Intent for the 2023-2024 academic year will be honored.
  • Reevaluate campus student activities and events including merging the Miss NOC competitions in Enid and Tonkawa into one competition.

Vice Chair of the Board Brad Fox commented, “On behalf of the Board, we commend the efforts made by the college with this challenging task and appreciate all the faculty and staff’s involvement through cost-saving surveys and follow up communications to the executive team in making these difficult decisions.”

In other business, the regents approved a resolution supporting the current law on guns on campus; approved the new NOC Tonkawa wellness center membership fees; approved policy revisions and additions to the NOC Employee Handbook, section 4.2.2 System of Compensation of Instructional Overloads and Special Assignments and section 4.2.5 Processes Related to Division Chairs and Faculty Liaisons, approved the FY2023 Budget Revision and Establishment of Fund 497 for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds totaling $300,000 for Northern Oklahoma College Nursing Workforce Expansion; and approved the monthly financial report, purchases and allocations.

In regents’ comments, Jodi Cline announced that she will not pursue another term on the board with her current term ending June 2023. The next regular board meeting is Wednesday, March 22 at 2 p.m. in the Brown Board Room at NOC Stillwater.