2014-11-16 ne-borenanniv (copy) (copy)

OU’s fiscal 2020 budget eliminates the school’s structural debt and reduces recurring costs at its Norman campus by $50 million. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World file

Here’s some good news about the University of Oklahoma:

The school has eliminated its structural debt.

It has reduced its overall budget by about $30 million and reduced recurring costs at its Norman campus by $50 million.

Faculty salaries, which went up 2.6% on Jan. 1, will rise another 2.2% on July 1. Eligible staff will receive 3% raises, the first broad-based staff pay increase since 2014.

Undergraduate tuition and fees will remain steady for the second consecutive year.

On the whole, the school’s $2.02 billion budget for fiscal year 2020 represents a big step forward. After a very difficult year of cuts and investigations, the school seems once again to be on a sustainable course with a positive trajectory.

All of the economies necessary may not have been completed, but things are certainly looking brighter in the Sooner Nation, and that’s an accomplishment the entire state can celebrate.

None of it happened without a great deal of effort and intentional choices by a lot of people.

The Legislature increased higher education appropriations, programs that weren’t at the university’s core mission were curtailed or reduced, management practices were modernized and costs consolidated. All of that led to some difficult decisions, but none that we have seen weren’t reasonable and necessary.

Success has many mothers. In this case, Gov. Kevin Stitt, Interim President Joe Harroz Jr., the OU regents and the school’s donors, faculty, staff and students deserve their fair share of the credit. We hope former President James Gallogly, often painted as the dour villain in the school’s downsizing, takes some satisfaction with this accomplishment. His hard work and dedication to the school should not go unnoticed.

Its budget belt tightened, we hope brighter days lie ahead for OU, which is and must be an engine of growth, innovation and prosperity for our state.

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