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Updates from the President

August 5, 2020

Drawing a Close to a Successful Summer  

As the final Summer term comes to a close, I am excited for the future of our University as we continue to work our Return to Campus Plan  for the Fall with student move-in next week. I hope that this message finds you in good health and ready for a successful Fall semester.

Another Summer of Record Enrollment with Anticipation for Growth in the Fall 

The summer has proved to be an incredibly positive period for enrollment at our University. Our final census will land just shy of 3,100 students receiving instruction this summer. This equates to just under 26% headcount growth from last summer and represents a 37% improvement in registered credit hours from a year ago. Summer enrollment was up 8.3% among the undergraduate students, with slightly more than 1,050 enrolled. Graduate enrollment was up 37.3%, with 2,025 enrolled. Our registered credit hours for the summer exceeded 20,400, up from just under 15,000 last summer.

As of today, we are incredibly optimistic about enrollment growth in the Fall. We currently sit at 4,356 students, up from 4,120 (+5.7%) on the same day last year. Our current undergraduate enrollment is relatively flat and our graduate enrollment is up 259 students or 19%. This headcount improvement currently equates to a 3.5% increase in registered credit hours compared to same day last year. If this trend continues through the enrollment period, we anticipate over 5,100 students will attend Southeastern this Fall.

COVID-19 Campus Update 

Since March 23, we have received 13 total self-reported COVID-19 cases among the entire campus community. This encompassed self-reported cases from both on campus and online students, faculty and staff, and does not necessarily mean that all or any of the persons have been physically on campus. Of those 13, nine have been designated as recovered. For more information on reporting steps and subsequent actions see the How to Report COVID Symptoms or Exposure page from the COVID-19 Update section of SE.Edu. As a reminder, face coverings are required on campus when around others in addition to following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for social distancing of six feet.

FY21 Budget 

I am pleased that both the Regional University System of Oklahoma Regents and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have approved our FY2021 budget. The budget will give us the resources necessary to continue to grow our University and ensure student success.

Key Highlights

  • Tuition – No Change
  • Mandatory Fees – No Change
  • Housing & Meal Plans – No Change
  • The University’s budget is based on a slight increase in enrollment with 120,200 student credit hours (SCH).
  • State appropriations represent a decrease of more than $4,500,000 since July 1, 2015 including a decrease of more than $573,000 for FY 2021.
  • The percent of revenue from state appropriations has steadily declined over the past 15 years from 52.5% in FY 2006-2007 to the current rate of 24% in FY 2021.
  • The University’s E&G I budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 is $58,177,490.  This is an increase of more than $1.5 million from the FY2020 revised budget.
  • $500,000 of the increase in revenue and expenses comes from the Federal CARES Act.
  • The budget increase has been funded almost in its entirety by a projected increase in SCH throughout the entire SE system, cost-savings, Federal CARES funds, one-time use of reserves and NO increase in tuition or mandatory fees.
  • Compensation and benefits for faculty and staff continued to be a major initiative on campus. Southeastern will continue to fund 100% of the employer-funded insurance health plan.
  • The University’s percentage of administrative costs remains well below the 13% cap at 6.06% for FY 2021.

University Reserve

  • The 2021 budget infuses slightly more than $1.3 million from reserve as reinvestment in the University.
  • This planned infusion of reserve funds into the FY2021 budget will be targeted primarily at initiatives to increase affordability for students and to support an increased tuition benefit to faculty and staff.
  • Even with this reinvestment the reserve balance is expected to grow and after the Fall class start the University will analyze the possible use of additional reserve funds for additional reinvestment in one-time University initiatives.
  • The State Regents reserve requirement is 8.3%, or $4,847,930, University Reserve Target is 13.5% or $7,873,160.
  • FY 2021 Projected Total Reserve through the FY2021 budget is 16.88%, or $9,817,537.









All Faculty and Staff Meetings 

This time of year is incredibly exciting for all of us as we work to start the Fall semester and welcome the class of 2024. We would normally be preparing for opening convocation, orientation, and back to campus meetings. While all of our pre-semester gatherings will still happen, with COVID-19 many of them will have to modify their delivery format. One of those meetings that we traditionally look forward to is our all campus meeting that provides me an opportunity to meet with each of you in order to talk about priorities for the University for the coming year, strategic initiatives, and general campus updates. This time is even more important to me as your new president, given that in the short time I have been here I have not had opportunities to meet many of you. Given the circumstances, I have decided to still have these meetings, but instead of one large gathering, we will have several small meetings, almost 30 have already been scheduled, starting next week. Our focus remains on the safe return to campus, so these meetings will be more about getting to know each other and giving me the opportunity to share my philosophy and how we will move forward after we turn the page on the pandemic. These smaller settings will be a better model for this type of conversation, as I know that we will be able to meet as an entire group to have more formal conversations in the future.

Faculty/Staff Email Alias 

It has come to my attention that our faculty and staff email aliases are not moderated. This causes some concern because it exposes those lists to email that may not be appropriate or rise to the level of importance to be sent to these groups in their entirety. This also leaves these groups open to private responses specifically through reply all.

Beginning immediately, we will begin to moderate emails sent through these aliases in order to hopefully eliminate these issues. This is an information technology best practice, and currently emails that are sent to the student alias are moderated through the Vice President of Student Affairs office. Likewise, the faculty and staff aliases will be moderated by someone in my office. Moderation will not limit the ability to communicate, it is intended only to provide protection to these two groups.

Thank you again for everything that you do to ensure the success of our students and our University.


Thomas Newsom