Higher Education

A strategic plan for OU

January 15, 2021

David Randall, Ph.D.

The University of Oklahoma board of regents recently produced a strategic plan titled “Lead On, University.”

As I pointed out in a previous article, the strategic plan collates OU’s bureaucratic ambitions, hopes that the Oklahoma taxpayers will foot the bill, and betrays that its real ambition is to impose an expensive, coercive diversity bureaucracy on the university. The plan subordinates all other goals—including liberty and education—to enforcing and propagandizing for race and sex preferences.

Now of course OU should have a strategic plan. But it should have a strategic plan that uses the minimum number of words to state a small number of quantifiable benchmarks that Oklahoma citizens and legislators can use to judge how well OU has achieved its ambitions. OU’s strategic plan should consist of concrete commitments, rather than strategies, tactics, or aspirations.

Here is a sketch of a proper strategic plan for OU. The university should complete all commitments within five years.

Purpose: OU Teaches Capable Students

“Lead On, University” states that “We Change Lives” is OU’s purpose. OU is not and should not be in the business of “changing lives.” Each American is responsible for changing his or her own life and for choosing how it should be changed. OU should take pride in its core mission—classroom instruction to students. “Teaching” also emphasizes that students are at OU to learn; they do not benefit the university by their mere presence. “Capable” emphasizes that OU provides rigorous undergraduate education. It will not admit unqualified students, and it will aim its instruction toward students capable of true undergraduate study.

Commitment #1: Keep Tuition Low

OU commits to reducing real tuition and student fees, so as to make higher education more affordable to Oklahoma students and their families and to reduce student debt. OU will freeze tuition and student fees at 2020-2021 levels for five academic years. Tuition and student fees will remain frozen regardless of the amount of support provided by the state legislature and regardless of any other financial event.

Commitment #2: Limit General Education Requirements

OU commits to limiting the number of general education requirements to 10 classes, so as to limit the financial burden that general education requirements impose on students and their families. OU also commits to ensuring that all general education requirements can be met by means of dual-credit classes and/or concurrent enrollment courses, so that students can complete all general education requirements before they arrive at OU.

Commitment #3: Reduce the Number of Administrators

OU commits to reducing the number of staff by 25 percent, so as to reduce superfluous costs and focus on teaching. One-half of those reductions will come from staff who earn more than the median staff salary, to ensure that OU sheds both senior and junior bureaucrats.

Commitment #4: Educate Students

OU commits to eliminating service-learning classes and all other forms of course credit for work outside the classroom, save for narrowly defined internships in fields such as education and engineering. OU also commits to replacing 25 percent of courses taught by adjuncts with courses taught by full-time faculty. OU further commits to increasing the number of classes with fewer than 20 students from 45 percent to 50 percent.

Commitment #5: Apply Rigorous Standards Equally

OU commits to retaining standardized aptitude tests with a track record of predicting students’ academic achievement. OU also commits to publishing its minimum entrance standards in advance and to applying these entrance standards equally to all applicants. OU further commits to raising its minimum entrance standards to those of the median flagship state university, measured by academic admissions standards.

Commitment #6: Prepare Students to Get a Good Job

OU commits to preparing its students for well-paying careers, and to provide students and parents means to assess whether it has succeeded in this goal. OU, therefore, commits to provide publicly accessible data for the salary of OU graduates, subdivided by School and Department.

Commitment #7: Educate Self-Reliant Citizens

OU commits to preparing its students to function as self-reliant American citizens capable of defending the republic. OU commits to supporting its ROTC programs as a fundamental priority. OU also commits to instituting general education requirements in American History, American Government, and Western Civilization.

Commitment #8: Educate Free Citizens

OU commits to preparing students to live as free citizens. OU, therefore, commits to incorporate into its bylaws charters protecting freedom of speech, due process, and intellectual diversity. OU also commits to removing all institutional aspirations, including mission statements, academic requirements, and job requirements, that entail limiting student and faculty freedom to determine one’s own ideals. The institutional aspirations to be removed include “diversity,” as well as any other social, cultural, or political goal beyond the preservation of the American republic.

Commitment #9: Serve Oklahoman Citizens

OU commits to serving American citizens, above all Oklahomans. OU, therefore, commits to restricting admission and employment to American citizens and to foreigners who have acquired residency permits by legal means. OU also commits to reserving for American citizens 90 percent of its undergraduate admissions and 50 percent of each department’s graduate student admissions. OU further commits to giving priority for all university services, scholarships, work-study jobs, and any other financial benefit to American citizens who are Oklahoma residents by the definition OU uses to establish who is qualified to receive in-state tuition rates.

Commitment #10: Community Responsibility

OU commits to eliminating all programs designed to invest in Oklahoma or its localities, since these double as ways for OU to exert political influence on its hosts. OU instead commits to waive for five years its tax-exempt status for state and local taxes.

Commitment #11: Proper Assessment

OU commits to rescind the entire apparatus of assessment that wastes millions of man-hours by faculty, staff, and students. OU instead commits to develop graduation tests for each of its general education requirements, to assess whether it has succeeded in educating its students during their time at OU. OU commits to administering these tests to all would-be graduates, with preannounced cut-off scores for graduation, and to give degrees only to students who pass all these tests.

To be sure, OU would have to overhaul how it works to fulfill these 11 commitments—and to vastly improve itself. These 11 commitments, brief and clearly expressed, would also provide clear priorities to guide OU. Oklahoma’s citizens could easily judge whether OU had succeeded or failed in fulfilling this strategic plan—and hold OU’s leadership accountable.

[For more stories about higher education in Oklahoma, visit AimHigherOK.com.]