Jun 1, 2023
Goodwell, Okla. — I’ve been so encouraged this week with all the people asking how they can help us given the state’s on-going budget crisis. Specifically, Dr. Barias asked “What is the plan and what are ways that we can step up to help Panhandle State?” I’m so glad you asked.
The viability of Panhandle State to be around another hundred years depends on our ability to grow our enrollment so that we are less dependent on the state to be successful. The budget cuts the past three years have been severe, but the historical perspective is even less inspiring. Over the past 20 years, the portion of our total funding provided to us by the state has decreased to 21 percent.
It’s my belief we’re no longer a state school, we are a state assisted school. The bulk of the cost to attend our university is covered by the students and their families.
My top resource priority is need-based scholarships. Need-based scholarships like our Panhandle’s Future Teacher Scholarship, as an example, go to students who are currently being priced out of the educational market. We have these types of scholarships in almost every academic area so students can go to school, graduate, do what they love for a living, and change the trajectory of their lives as well as the lives of generations to come.
Our most glaring weakness in the fight to recruit and retain students is our housing. We have a project underway to renovate and name each dorm room after the donor. Even though it is costly, the investment is already paying dividends with our largest freshman class ever this past fall.
Panhandle State’s greatest asset is our people who show up every day and strive to be part of the solution and our greatest weapon is advocacy. It is important that we tell our state leaders as often as we can how important our university is to the success of our communities, region, and most importantly, the individual students whose lives we change for the better.
There’s another piece that I think all of us could do better with as advocates.
We have world-class programs at Panhandle State that some people tend to take for granted. We must get people to see Panhandle State as a university of choice. The quality of our instruction, the employability of our graduates, and the excellence of our academic and activity programs prove our excellence.
We are a place that changes lives in a positive way for virtually everyone who walks through the door. I need you to tell prospective students, parents, and anybody else in the world who will listen, that we are one of the best regional universities in America. You can do so with confidence because we have the track record to prove it.
There is a purpose and a plan in all we do. Our strategy for success is comprehensive and inspiring. I’d love to talk to anybody who’s willing to hear it because I think you’ll be impressed with how poised for greatness we are as a university. The results of what we are doing affirm we are headed in the right direction.
Unfortunately, the process of strengthening our university into one that changes lives for the better even more than we have in the past, is more complex than what fits into the social media post.
The vast majority of the results, opinions and feedback about our university are positive. In terms of measuring our success, we have shifted from, “the way we’ve always done it” to making decisions based on performance and results. This is a dramatic change for some people. It is also our only viable path forward if we want to be successful.
Our agenda is to make Panhandle State more prosperous and sustainable. In the end, if we don’t start believing in the good we do, telling others about the good we do, and supporting Panhandle State like we are one of the best regional universities in America, we will lose the opportunity to prove it.
May 11, 2023
Jana Wallace, CEO of PTCI, to Serve as Speaker for the 2023 Commencement at OPSU
Jan 11, 2018