Southeastern News

Southeastern fall enrollment reaches highest level in 40 years with 4,483 students

Southeastern president Sean Burrage offers remarks at a recent Faculty-Staff meeting.

Southeastern president Sean Burrage offers remarks at a recent Faculty-Staff meeting.

By UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS

DURANT, Okla. – In July, Southeastern Oklahoma State University announced it would not be increasing tuition costs for the first time since 2009-2010. This was certainly good news for students and their parents, as of the 25 public colleges and universities in Oklahoma, Southeastern was one of only six to hold the line on tuition.

And the news keeps getting better.

University officials announced today that with 4,483 students, fall enrollment has reached its highest level in 40 years, according to reports.  Records also indicate this ranks among the highest-ever enrollment totals documented in the 109-year history of the institution.

This fall’s enrollment total (Headcount) represents an increase of 13.3 percent over Fall 2017.

Significant enrollment increases occurred this fall at both the graduate and freshman level.

“As an institution, we’ve had to make some difficult decisions over the past four years and our faculty and staff have been unwavering in their support,’’ said Southeastern fifth-year president Sean Burrage. “To meet the challenges of reduced state funding and declining enrollment, we’ve had to think outside the box.

“As the higher education model changes, we are adjusting to meet the needs of our students.  For example, there is great demand today for online learning opportunities. Students are looking for flexibility as they balance their academic schedules with work and various family responsibilities. As a result, in addition to traditional face-to-face classroom instruction, we are also offering a number of academic programs completely online, both at the graduate and undergraduate level, and at a competitive cost.  These online programs are playing a significant role in our overall enrollment growth.’’

The University began expanding its online programs in Fall 2016. And because many of the programs are completely online, students do not have to live within commuting distance of Durant, thereby broadening the recruiting base.

Significant increases in enrollment were seen in the Master of Business Administration, Master of Education in School Counseling, Master of Educational Leadership, Master of Education in Special Education, and Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.

Burrage noted that enrollment numbers are also up at the freshman level, including significant increases in Bryan County and north Texas, which is more cause for optimism.

The freshmen enrollment increases over last fall are as follows:

  • Freshman students:  13.0% (600 students — largest class in six years)
  • Bryan County freshmen: 28.7%
  • Grayson County (Texas) freshmen: 26.7%
With 600 students, Southeastern is welcoming its largest freshman class in six years.

With 600 students, Southeastern is welcoming its largest freshman class in six years.

“We are intensifying our recruiting efforts to attract more students from our immediate service area,’’ he said, “and we’re beginning to see some results, which is very encouraging.’’

Approximately 85 percent of Southeastern students receive financial aid, and more than 50 percent annually are first-generation college graduates.

“We believe we offer quality academic programs that are both affordable and accessible to students,’’ Burrage. “This message appears to be well-received by our prospective students. As a University, we want to continue build on this growth, while not sacrificing quality.’’

Southeastern partners to mentor kids in OJA program

Southeastern football player Shane Dixon is participating in the mentoring program.

Southeastern football player Shane Dixon is participating in the mentoring program.

DURANT, Okla. – Mentoring comes in many forms, but all with the same goal — investing in someone and doing all that is possible to ensure they reach their maximum potential. While most people can recall a mentor in their past who has encouraged them to keep going, work harder or simply to believe in themselves, not all take the time to give back by mentoring others.

Through a partnership with Southeastern Oklahoma State University, youth who are involved with the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) in Bryan County will be paired with student athletes serving as mentors for a semester. The program

launched October 31 and already includes four mentors and five kids.

The OJA provides intake, supervision, probation, custody, parole and reintegration services to at-risk youth in the State of Oklahoma.

Kheri Smith is a Juvenile Justice Specialist in Bryan County and she is a tireless advocate for guiding youth through the continuum of care with OJA. She sees mentorship as a catalyst for positive change.

“The program will provide encouragement and support for at-risk youth in the community by offering positive role models,” said Smith. “I hope our kids will be inspired to finish school, pursue postsecondary education and start thinking about their future.”

Kids will gain insight and perspective from mentors who are close in age but whose experience in working toward their vision and achieving their goals offers examples for a path forward.

“The mentoring program is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever participated in,” said Shane Dixon, a Southeastern football player participating in the program. “Everyone involved goes above and beyond for these kids, and I enjoy seeing them grow. I hope I can impact these kids’ lives as much as they have mine.”

 

Southeastern football coach Bo Atterberry has championed the idea from the beginning, and sees it as beneficial for everyone involved. “We stress to our student athletes the importance of being a role model in the community,’’ said Atterberry. “They need to understand that they can make a positive difference in a young person’s life. This program is a great example of a win-win partnership – our student athletes also benefit from this type of one-on-one interaction.’’

 

The partnership provides an opportunity for bringing together members of the community in support of something greater than themselves. It generates an investment of time and energy that produces real and immediate benefits.

“Community service is a point of emphasis at the University,’’ said Southeastern president Sean Burrage. “Every year, when I speak to students at freshman orientation, I encourage them to get involved in activities outside the classroom, not only on campus, but in the community. I am very pleased to see our student athletes partnering with the Office of Juvenile Affairs. We think this is a program that has tremendous potential for growth in the future and are glad to be involved.’’

For more information on the mentorship program, please contact Kheri Smith at 580-924-8432 or Kheri.Smith@oja.ok.gov.

 

About Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs  

The Office of Juvenile Affairs is a state agency entrusted by the people of Oklahoma to provide professional prevention, education, and treatment services as well as secure facilities for juveniles in order to promote public safety and reduce juvenile delinquency.

Fall enrollment at Southeastern increases 6%

Southeastern president Sean Burrage enjoys lunch on a frequent  basis with students in the Student Union cafe. The informal setting allows the Southeastern president an opportunity to hear directly from students. Here he visits with two transfer students from Dallas, Kendrell Willis and Witt Wortham. This fall, the University is experiencing  its highest enrollment in five years.

Southeastern president Sean Burrage enjoys lunch on a frequent basis with students in the Student Union cafe. The informal setting allows the Southeastern president an opportunity to hear directly from students. Here he visits with two transfer students from Dallas, Kendrell Willis and Witt Wortham. This fall, the University is experiencing its highest enrollment in five years.

DURANT, Okla. – Enrollment is up and so is the optimism around the Southeastern Oklahoma State University campus these days.

Prior to the beginning of fall classes on August 21, Southeastern president Sean Burrage had termed this as a “pivotal year at the University.’’ The fourth-year president added that he was “optimistic’’ as he evaluated both enrollment numbers and the financial condition of the institution.

And the results show that Burrage was on the mark: After three weeks of classes, Southeastern’s enrollment has increased significantly in both head count and student credit hour (SCH) production over last year.  (SCH is important as it plays a key role in the amount of state allocations Southeastern receives each fiscal year).

Southeastern’s official fall 2017 enrollment is 3,956 students – an increase of 6.2% over last fall.

This represents the largest overall enrollment at Southeastern since 2012.

The University has also seen in increase of 3.2% in student credit hours this fall.

Burrage pointed to the importance of the across-the-board gains the University is experiencing this semester in new freshmen, transfers, and graduate student enrollment. In particular, the graduate school enrollment is growing at an amazing rate, with an increase of 62% over last fall (MBA – 132% increase).

Increases of note over last fall include:

  • New Freshmen: Increase of 2.3%
  • Bryan County freshmen: 10.1%
  • Texas freshmen: 6.7%
  • Transfer students: 6.3%
  • Graduate student enrollment: 62%
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): 132%

“As the numbers indicate, we have enrolled more students from Bryan County and north Texas this fall,’’ Burrage said of the freshman class. “We believe this is the beginning of a positive trend as we continue to intensify our recruiting efforts across the region.’’

Burrage said that online degree programs are greatly impacting colleges and universities across the nation, especially at the graduate level.

“In today’s world of higher education, there is great demand for online learning opportunities,’’ he said. “In fact, the growth in our graduate school, while phenomenal, can be attributed, in large part, to our innovative online master’s degree programs in Business, Education, and Native American Leadership. Again, we expect this trend to continue as we explore the possibility of offering additional academic programs online.’’

Burrage added there is a reason the online programs have been successful at Southeastern.

“Our faculty members deserve a lot of credit,’’ he said. “They understand that the higher education model is changing and they are adapting. Even though the delivery format of instruction may be changing, the most important learning component remains the same — the professor.’’

These new online programs are complementing other traditional popular degrees in such areas as aviation, occupational safety & health, and the sciences, to name just a few.

And although he is pleased with the growth in enrollment, the Southeastern president is not satisfied.

“We still have a lot of work to do,’’ he said. “Our challenge now is to not only sustain this growth, but to build on it.  We have recently increased scholarship opportunities, but we must continue to do so in order for a college education to be affordable for all students. This is critical as we receive reduced funding from the state.’’

Approximately 85% of Southeastern students currently receive some form of financial aid; 53% of Southeastern graduates this year were first-generation college graduates.

On the financial side of things, Burrage is equally optimistic.

Thanks to a number of measures – including ongoing conservative operational spending — Southeastern’s financial condition is in its best shape in years, with a sizeable increase in reserve funds projected this year.

This is despite numerous state budget reductions to higher education over the last few years, including a 6.1% cut ($930,000) to Southeastern this fiscal year.

“All the state reductions have obviously had a negative impact on higher education in Oklahoma,’’ Burrage said. “But Southeastern has addressed these challenges over the past few years by making some tough decisions, such as consolidating/eliminating programs that didn’t directly impact students, cutting administrative costs, implementing furlough days, and reducing travel expenses.

“Our faculty and staff have made tremendous sacrifices as we’ve worked through these budgeting challenges together.  I can’t say enough good things about the support they have demonstrated during some very difficult times. Southeastern is successful and will continue to be successful because of their attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes. That’s what makes this such a special place.’’

Southeastern will submit its Preliminary Enrollment Report to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education on September 8.

Bryan County teachers meet on campus

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University president Sean Burrage offers welcoming remarks Friday morning at the Bryan County Teachers meeting. The event was held in Montgomery Auditorium on the Southeastern campus.

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University president Sean Burrage offers welcoming remarks Friday morning at the Bryan County Teachers meeting. The event was held in Montgomery Auditorium on the Southeastern campus.

AAUP Candidates’ Forum to be held at Southeastern

DURANT, Okla. – The Southeastern Oklahoma State University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is hosting a Candidates’ Forum on campus Thursday, September 8,, from 3-4 p.m. in the Fine Arts Recital Hall.

District 21 incumbent State Representative Dustin Roberts and challenger David Northcutt will discuss their candidacy and the issues facing the citizens of Bryan County and Oklahoma.

The forum is open to Southeastern’s faculty, staff and students and the  voters of Bryan County are especially welcome and invited to attend.

The AAUP is a 100-year-old non-partisan professional association of university faculty with chapters across the United States.

Brady Rudolf Memorial Scholarship established

Brady Rudolf is pictured with sons Nate, Braden, and Ty.

DURANT, Okla. – The Brady Joe Rudolf Memorial Scholarship has been established through the Southeastern Foundation to benefit students attending Southeastern Oklahoma State University. This scholarship will be given to students who have declared Aviation-Professional Pilot as their major field of study. Students must have graduated from an Oklahoma or Texas high school, with priority order being Durant, Bryan County, the state of Oklahoma, or the state of Texas.

Brady was born in Durant, graduated from Durant High School in 1989, and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Southeastern in 1993. He went on to graduate from the University of Oklahoma School of Pharmacy, and was employed as a pharmacist at the Veterans Hospital in Oklahoma City. While at Southeastern, his activities included Student Senate and Blue Key. He was also a charter member of Kappa Sigma fraternity.

Brady’s loving family includes wife, Jennifer, sons Braden, Ty and Nate, parents Nathalia and Doug Flowers, and the late Larry Rudolf; brother and sister-in-law Dustin and Tammy Rudolf and their children Brittany, Alec and Gavin; and in-laws Randy and Cindy Tadlock, and Bryan and Samantha Manning.

After serving 20 years in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, he was killed during his second deployment when his Chinook helicopter crashed in Iraq on September 18, 2008. A section of Highway 70 west of Durant has been dedicated in his honor.

At a young age Rudolf achieved success as a pharmacist and Chinook pilot, while continuing to be a great family man to his wife and three sons. He was goal-driven and continued to strive for success in every aspect of his life. His hard work and great example will, hopefully, inspire those who receive his scholarship.

The family created this scholarship to give back to the community and friends who showed their love and support during their tragic loss. Southeastern was chosen to host the scholarship because the family considers it their hometown university. Brady, his wife, parents and many other family members and friends are graduates of Southeastern.

Mrs. Rudolf said, “Our goal is to remember and honor Brady and to help students who share his love of aviation. The donations previously given in memory of Brady were very much appreciated and set aside by the family to help fund this scholarship.”

Colton Sherrill Memorial Scholarship endowed at Southeastern

Colton Sherrill

DURANT, Okla. – The Colton Trace Sherrill Memorial Scholarship has been endowed through the Southeastern Foundation to benefit students attending Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Colton’s parents, Trace and Dena Sherrill, said the endowed scholarship is to honor Colton and keep his memory alive for years to come while helping area students to further their education.

Colton passed away June 11, 2008, of congenital heart disease only a few days short of his 11th birthday while participating in a Southeastern basketball camp. He was an avid sports enthusiast and especially enjoyed basketball and soccer.

This is established as a tuition scholarship to be awarded to a graduate of a Bryan County high school. Preference will be given to a student who shows academic potential, leadership qualities and has a demonstrated financial need. Preference will also be given to students who have participated or are participating in band/music or athletics.

His memory is also honored through the dedication of Colton’s (Soccer) Field at the Durant Multi-Sports Complex. A ceremony was held and a monument unveiled on September 27, 2008.

Colton’s parents have given scholarships to area students over the last three years from memorial donations. People continue to contribute through donations and their support of Colton’s Main Street Run. The popular Main Street Run was started to raise money for the purchase of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), training for school personnel in the use of AEDs and CPR, and to raise money for the Durant Main Street Program, for which Colton was a volunteer.

Colton’s father, a Special District Judge, is a 1989 graduate of Southeastern. The Sherrills selected the Southeastern Foundation to administer the scholarship because the University is a vital part of the community.

“This is a community where helping and supporting one another is important and we feel Southeastern is best suited to accomplish the purpose of this scholarship,” Dena said. “We want to help provide greater opportunity for higher education for students from Bryan County schools who have demonstrated financial need and have demonstrated leadership through their activities and academics.”