Bill amendment on OSU-Tulsa degrees could affect Langston University
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Friday, March 18, 2011
3/18/11 at 6:53 AM
Adding an adverb to a state law won't break the logjam that prevents OSU-Tulsa from offering key degree programs, but it emphasizes the need to resolve the long-running problem, the school's president said Thursday.
"I think we've just got to find a way to make this work, because OSU-Tulsa and Langston have to serve the community," said Oklahoma State University-Tulsa President Howard Barnett.
OSU-Tulsa is prohibited from offering degree programs that duplicate programs offered by Langston University's Tulsa campus.
But an amendment to a higher education bill that Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, persuaded state senators to approve Wednesday would change that to say that OSU-Tulsa can't offer degrees that "unnecessarily" duplicate Langston programs.
The proposal is pending with the state House.
For years, OSU-Tulsa has struggled to break Langston's monopoly on key degree areas in Tulsa. Included on the list of undergraduate degrees OSU-Tulsa might want to offer but can't are accounting, English, history, psychology, chemistry, secondary education and economics.
OSU-Tulsa can offer courses in those areas, but students end up commuting to OSU's Stillwater campus to complete their degrees.
Crain said Tulsa students have a choice between degree programs at Langston's Tulsa campus and OSU's Stillwater campus, and they are headed down the road to Stillwater.
"Their actions are speaking just as loudly as any words can," he said.
Those students need an alternative in Tulsa, Crain said. Adding one word to the law won't make that happen, but it will push the various parties to the issue to get serious about resolving the problem, he said.
Langston's Tulsa campus was given the monopoly as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over the historic segregation of Oklahoma's higher education system.
Venora W. McKinney, president of the Lang-ston University National Alumni Association, said that group will resist any efforts to erode further the school's urban mission in Tulsa, including efforts to take away the school's exclusive rights to degree programs.
McKinney, a retired librarian from Milwaukee and a 1959 graduate of Langston, said she is aware of Crain's legislation and that the association would address its concerns to the Justice Department.
McKinney said Lang-ston's status in Tulsa was established to address decades of segregation in Oklahoma's higher education system and that erosion of the school's power in the Tulsa market has resulted in declining enrollment.
White students - either because of bias or because they want to be associated with OSU's stronger brand profile - have chosen to attend OSU-Tulsa over Langston, so preserving Langston's right is key to preserving the school, she said.
In a statement, state Chancellor Glen Johnson pointed out that Crain's proposed change in the law mimics the policy of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
"We will continue to work with the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents, Oklahoma State University-Tulsa and Langston University-Tulsa in their efforts to provide higher education opportunities to students in the Tulsa area," Johnson said.
Original Print Headline: Proposal puts focus on plight of Tulsa students
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
Putting community first
OSU-Tulsa President Howard Barnett: "I think we've just got to find a way to make this work, because OSU-Tulsa and Langston have to serve the com- munity," he said.