Task Force Calls for Community Input to Shape the Future of Higher Education in Tulsa
Sept. 23, 2020 (TULSA, OKLA.)–Tulsans live in a reality where fewer than one in six students enrolled in Oklahoma community colleges go on to graduate from a four-year institution. However, the Tulsa Higher Education Task Force is taking bold steps to improve that statistic by starting with community input. A survey, launched today, is one way adults in the Tulsa area can participate with these key community partners to solve issues surrounding higher education in the region.
The 10-minute survey is available at www.TulsaHigherEd.com in English, Spanish, Zomi and Hmong. There is also a text messaging option to access the survey by texting “Tulsa” to 31996 to receive a link. Information collected through the survey will be used to help align plans and future developments in higher education in Tulsa with the needs of our community. The survey will be open until October 16, 2020, and the Task Force encourages all Tulsa-area adults to both participate and share the survey with others.
Since 2018, seven Tulsa-area higher education institutions, Tulsa Community College, Langston University – Tulsa, Northeastern State University, Oklahoma State University – Tulsa, Rogers State University, University of Oklahoma – Tulsa, and the University of Tulsa, have been collaborating through the Tulsa Transfer Project to improve the experience of students transferring from Tulsa Community College to a university in the region. The Tulsa Transfer Project has helped each of the seven institutions assess the student transfer experience, develop campus-based transfer improvement plans and work together on a regional level to increase the number of area residents navigate transfer pathways and complete a bachelor’s degree. The collaborative work is supported by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.
As a result of this collaboration, the presidents of these seven institutions launched the Tulsa Higher Education Task Force in April 2020 with an overarching goal to develop a plan for a formal structure that will leverage shared institutional resources and facilitate a seamless academic and social experience for students pursuing baccalaureate degrees in the Tulsa region. The Task Force is comprised of 28 members representing each of the seven institutions, as well as community and government organizations such as ImpactTulsa, the City of Tulsa, Tulsa Community Foundation, Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce, Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce, and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
“Post-secondary degree attainment has a direct impact on the economic growth and health of our region,” said Carlisha Bradley, Executive Director of ImpactTulsa. “According to Census data, the earning potential of a bachelor’s degree holder increases by nearly $20,000 annually compared to those with a high school diploma. By creating a better higher education experience for students in the region, we can grow the number of Tulsans with a bachelor’s degree.”
This partnership among higher education institutions in the region will continue to strengthen transfer pathways for Tulsa’s community college students. Transfer students lose an average of 13 credit hours from a community college to a four-year university, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Saving students time and money, producing more individuals with a bachelor’s degree, and having them stay in the region is important to the economic growth of northeast Oklahoma and the state.
“By understanding community views of Tulsa higher education, we can help ensure that any plan aligns with the needs of our community, said Dr. Cindy Hess, Chair of the Tulsa Higher Education Task Force. “This survey is one of several approaches we are using to learn from Tulsans.”
With the goal of creating a structure that supports cross-institutional collaboration that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of the community, the Tulsa Higher Education Task Force has launched their survey to learn about the experiences, perceptions, and recommendations from Tulsans regarding higher education. The Task Force encourages anyone living in the Tulsa region who is high school-age and above to complete the survey, with a particular emphasis on prospective college students, current and former college students, regional employers, and high school counselors and administrators. This call for feedback will assist the Task Force in its effort to improve the higher education experience for students in the Tulsa region, ultimately leading to higher rates of bachelor’s degree attainment.
ImpactTulsa is an unprecedented collective impact partnership connecting more than 300 organizations and impacting more than 170,000 students in the Tulsa region. The common goal is to ensure all Tulsa-area students are guaranteed a high-quality education. ImpactTulsa partners measure what matters, share best practices and align resources behind what works to improve student success. Find out more about ImpactTulsa at their website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
About the Tulsa Higher Education Task Force
Launched in April 2020, the Tulsa Higher Education Task Force consists of 28 members representing seven institutions of higher education in the Tulsa region – Tulsa Community College, Langston University – Tulsa, Northeastern State University, Oklahoma State University – Tulsa, Rogers State University, the University of Oklahoma – Tulsa, and the University of Tulsa – as well as organizations with an interest in advancing higher education opportunities in the region, including ImpactTulsa, the City of Tulsa, Tulsa Community Foundation, Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce, Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce, and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. The purpose of the Task Force is to develop a plan for a formal structure that will leverage shared institutional resources and facilitate a seamless experience for students pursuing baccalaureate degrees in the Tulsa region. The Task Force will present its findings and recommendations to the Presidents of the seven participating institutions no later than December 31, 2020.