Frequently Asked Questions

This page is divided into sections to make finding the answers to your questions easier. Below you will find categories of frequently asked question about The University of Tulsa True Commitment.

  • The general category provides answers to questions related to programs, data and timeline.
  • The arts/humanities category provides answers to questions related to arts and humanities, the Honors Program and Henry Kendall College.
  • The finance category provides answers to questions regarding the TU’s endowment, athletics and tuition.
  • The student/admission category provides answers to questions related to programs, education and enrollment.
  • The advancement/alumni category provides answers related to degrees earned at TU.
  • The university policy category provides answers regarding faculty and staff, courses and academic advising.

Learn more about PPRC University Policy Recommendations.

General

Where can I receive more information or have my questions answered?

www.utulsa.edu/truecommitment provides additional information and will include future updates regarding our progress. It also includes a form submission function which can be used to ask questions or leave comments. This FAQ page will be updated with applicable answers.

Can you clarify the difference between canceling programs vs. winding them down?

First and foremost, we will support and sustain our commitments to our students. Any program that exists today, whether undergraduate or graduate, will be allowed to matriculate students in fall 2019. We are committed to teaching out those students until they earn their degrees.

Provost Levit met with each of the deans to discuss action plans for the programs that will sunset in the next several years. The deans are working with their department chairs and advisers to develop student-centered teach-out plans and are communicating directly with their students to answer questions and offer guidance. Faculty from affected departments will use Continuous Improvement Day on May 8 to create detailed course plans to support the teach-out process. We will do everything in our power and apply additional resources, if necessary, to maintain the quality of our students’ academic experience through the teach-out period.

Is the data accurate? Why can’t we see everything?

Most of the data that was reviewed came directly from the academic units including requested information, internal program reviews and accreditation reports. Other information was provided by the Office of Institutional Research, Office of Career Services and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. This data was compiled by PPRC, and then returned to deans and departments to ensure accuracy.

Every effort was made to ensure the data and the process were transparent. Documentation regarding the committee’s deliberation is not available. This ensures future PPRC committees are able to have an open, frank and objective dialogue regarding each of these programs.

The committee took a holistic approach to evaluate each program in the context of evaluating all programs. The recommendations reflect the comprehensive consideration of multiple data points. Future reviews may include expanded data sets in the interest of continuous improvement.

How many programs are impacted?

After months of careful review and assessment of our current academic offerings, the university decided to reduce the number of degree programs offered by 40%. While this may seem significant, only 6% of our current students are enrolled in one of these programs for their primary degrees.

More than 15 current programs are also identified for growth and expansion, including undergraduate programs in speech pathology, neurosciences, biochemistry, bioinformatics and biomedical engineering and master’s programs in institutional organizational psychology and engineering.

A complete list of eliminated and remaining programs can be found in The Academic Strategy for The University of Tulsa (updated Sept. 26).

What is the timeline for these changes?

The changes will take place over several years. Any program that exists today, whether undergraduate or graduate, will be allowed to matriculate students in the fall, and all enrolled students will be able to finish their degrees in those programs.

Over the summer and during the upcoming 2019-20 academic year, university stakeholders will focus on planning how to implement the approved plan. This work will include working groups tasked with developing implementation plans, identifying opportunities to improve upon the plan presented today and addressing outstanding questions and issues that will need to be resolved prior to implementation. The 2020-21 academic year will be focused on executing these changes, while always refining in the name of continuous improvement. Opportunities for immediate change will be implemented as they are identified.

 

Can you address the structural changes taking place at TU?

The PPRC recognized, particularly in A&S, that departments were relatively small and offered similar permutations of upper-level courses to very few students. To address this, current faculty in A&S and biological sciences will reorganize into four divisions Faculty from one extant department may split among one or more divisions. This consolidation also allows for faculty to respond nimbly to changing needs and priorities of the student population, shifting program demands, interdisciplinary flexibility in both teaching and research and financial pressures that require cost efficiency from decreased administrative loads.

TU also has numerous professional programs that support the strategic plan’s focus on pragmatic, professional training. Many of these programs have not yet reached their potential in terms of growth and relevance to today’s – and tomorrow’s – economy. The PPRC’s data review reveals that approximately 43% of all TU degrees come from one of our professional colleges, although law and health sciences each account for less than 10% of degrees that TU grants in any given year. The administrative structures supporting each of these colleges weigh on TU’s financial resources. The idea of an umbrella for our professional colleges will involve a tight sharing of administrative functions in the name of efficiency and effectiveness.

Is this the full scope of the changes or is this the beginning?

The current plan is focused on the academic structure and begin an ongoing, routine review and self-assessment of our academic programs. We also will soon begin a similar review of our administrative functions.

Why is geoscience changing?

As part of the PPRC review process, the committee analyzed a number of data points including enrollment, outcomes and graduation rates. The Department of Geosciences offered a number of specialized degree programs that had low enrollment compared with other majors within Engineering and Natural Sciences. Streamlining the geosciences programs into a single bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree with a professional focus presents a more efficient and effective use of resources within the college.

Arts/Humanities

It seems as though arts and music are being shut down at TU. Is this true?

No. While some degree programs within the music and art programs were identified for closure, TU will continue to offer undergraduate majors and minors in music and art.

Is TU abandoning the humanities and becoming a trade school?

No. Our commitment to the arts and humanities is as strong as ever. We are closing programs with low or no enrollment. Looking to the future, even more persist and some are slated for growth. Additionally, TU will continue to be a high-touch diverse institution that provides all students with a grounding in critical and creative thinking and strong communication skills backed by experiences for the application of what has been learned.

The new structure for Henry Kendall College includes more than three dozen bachelor’s degrees, graduate degrees, minors and certificates firmly rooted in the arts and humanities. These include art, music, film studies, media studies, creative writing, English, history, foreign languages, philosophy & religion, women’s & gender studies, African American studies and classical studies with several areas identified for growth.

Our commitment to the humanities also extends beyond the classroom. TU is home to the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, the Institute for Bob Dylan Studies, the Henry Zarrow Center for Arts & Education and five journals. The university also manages Gilcrease Museum and owns the Helmerich Center for American Research at Gilcrease Museum.

What about TU’s connection to publications rooted in the arts and humanities?

TU continues to support publications currently produced through Kendall College: Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, the first journal devoted to women’s literature (37 years); James Joyce Quarterly, the flagship for international Joyce studies (56 years); Modernist Journals Project, a partnership with Brown University (24 years); Nimrod, which fosters new writers (63 years); and Stylus a student-run literary and fine arts journal (18 years).

Is TU closing its Honors Program?

No. TU’s Honors Program is a catalyst for rigorous discussion of great thinkers, innovative ideas and complex questions, and it will remain intact and flourishing throughout TU’s restructuring. From Plato to Freud, students not only read for answers but more importantly for the questions they provoke. These are the classroom debates that cultivate curious minds and shape character. TU is dedicated to preparing students for successful careers and developing life-long learners.

The Honors Program will become part of the new University Studies initiative. It will be up to faculty to decide how the program will evolve. The program will look the same this year, but we do not yet know what it will look like beyond that. Denise Dutton will facilitate a summer reading group with scholars from the Honors Program and Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge and would be happy to open that up to other groups if interested.

How will TU continue to be involved in arts and humanities beyond the classroom?

Our commitment extends beyond the classroom. TU is home to the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, the Henry Zarrow Center for Arts & Education, the management of Gilcrease Museum, support of the Institute for Bob Dylan Studies, not to mention TU’s Helmerich Center for American Research at Gilcrease Museum and support four journals.

Why is University Studies a common entry point for first-year students?

All first-year students will be required to begin their academic career in University Studies in Henry Kendall College. This common entry point for first-year students ensures that all students benefit from a foundational education in the arts and humanities.  University Studies will offer a robust collection of general curriculum courses rooted in the arts and humanities to foster creative and critical thinking by all students. This is necessary for today’s job market and must be part of every student experience, not just those who enroll in A&S.

What degrees and certificates will remain in Henry Kendall College?

TU provides excellent labs, venues and technology to support research, multimedia work, publications, performances and exhibitions. Degrees and certificates that will remain in Henry Kendall College include:

  • Advertising, minor only
  • African American Studies, minor only
  • Anthropology, B.A., B.S. (Major & Minor)
  • Anthropology, M.A.
  • Art, B.A. (Major & Minor)
  • Art History, B.A. (Major & Minor)
  • Arts Management, B.A.
  • Chinese, minor only
  • Classical Studies, certificate
  • Clinical Psychology, M.A.
  • Clinical Psychology, Ph.D.
  • Creative Writing, B.A. (Major & Minor)
  • Economics, B.A., B.S. (Major & Minor)
  • Education, B.A., B.S. (Major & Minor)
  • Elementary Education, B.A.
  • English, B.A. (Major & Minor)
  • English Language & Literature, M.A.
  • English Language & Literature, Ph.D.
  • Environmental Policy, B.A., B.S.
  • Film Studies, B.A. (Major & Minor)
  • Fine Arts, B.F.A.
  • French, B.A. (Major & Minor)
  • German, B.A. (Major & Minor)
  • History, B.A. (Major & Minor)
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychology, M.A.
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ph.D.
  • Museum Science & Management, M.A.
  • Music, B.A. (Major & Minor)
  • Music Education, Instrumental, B.M.E.
  • Music Education, Vocal, B.M.E.
  • Media Studies, B.A. and B.S. (Major & Minor)
  • Organizational Studies, B.A.
  • Philosophy & Religion, minor only
  • Political Science, B.A. (Major & Minor)
  • Psychology, B.A., B.S. (Major & Minor)
  • Sociology, B.A., B.S. (Major & Minor)
  • Spanish, B.A. (Major & Minor)
  • Women’s & Gender Studies, B.A. (Major & Minor)

 

Finance

Is TU in financial turmoil?

Our financial position is strong. TU has a $1.1 billion endowment, and the university’s bond debt is the lowest it has been in 20 years. We have adopted a zero-based budgeting process and are making further changes now to avoid significant financial issues in the future. This new plan, over time, is expected to improve our financial strength. TU’s Greater Commitment campaign is raising funds for additional student scholarships and faculty support, and we’re taking a close look at operational efficiencies. During the past two and a half years, $10 million of annual operations expenses have been cut. We are reviewing areas across campus that are examples of duplication, redundancy and shortfalls in staffing.

If we’re not in financial trouble, why are we making these changes?

To address recent budget shortfalls, TU evaluated its financial model and determined that expenses per student far outpaced revenue. This creates an unsustainable financial model that results in TU operating at a deficit. By reducing costs, TU will move toward a financially stable operating model that will carry the university forward.

Why can’t TU use its billion-dollar endowment to keep these programs open?

TU’s endowment is an incredible resource meant to sustain the university indefinitely, not to fund day-to-day operations. TU maintains a fiduciary commitment to manage the endowment in a responsible manner, which includes limiting the amount that can be withdrawn to fund operating expenses. TU’s endowment cannot be used as a crutch to balance the annual budget.

When the university receives donor funds directed to the endowment, often those funds are restricted, meaning the donor determines how the funds are to be used. For example, a donor might have stipulated that her funds be used exclusively to fund a professorship in a specific discipline, while another might have allocated money to acquire materials for the library. In every case, the amount donated (the principal) is invested in the fund, and any annual income (dividend) generated by the donation is the portion used toward the gift’s intended purpose.

Can you explain net tuition vs. expenses with regard to TU’s financial model?

In fiscal years 2016 and 2017, academic expenses at TU far outpaced our net tuition per student. The average net tuition fee per student is around $16,000, while academic expenses per student were approximately $27,500 in FY16 and $20,500 in FY17. Though we were able to close the gap by reducing some expenses in FY17, we cannot sustain a favorable financial position if expenses continue to outpace net tuition. Compared with peer universities, TU’s instructional expenses are disproportionately higher. TU is committed to bringing these expenses to a more manageable level and decrease the gap between our academic expenses and net tuition per student.

Why can’t TU make cuts to its athletic department to reduce academic program cuts?

We are right-sizing TU Athletics by significantly reducing sports costs and capping the amount that the university will use to supplement the athletics budget. Also, a new American Athletic Conference contract with ESPN adds $7 million more each year to the budget.

Is Gilcrease Museum’s financial stability at risk?

No. Gilcrease Museum’s budget is balanced and new agreements with the City of Tulsa are underway as the $75 million Vision 2025 public-funded expansion of Gilcrease prepares to begin.

What other ways is TU working to implement a financially sound model as it adapts to a changing landscape in higher education?

TU’s Greater Commitment campaign is raising funds for additional student scholarships and faculty support. Also, we’re taking a close look at operational efficiencies. During the past two and a half years, $10 million of annual operations expenses have been cut. We are reviewing areas across campus that are examples of duplication, redundancy and shortfalls in staffing.

Student/Admissions

What will happen to students in these programs?

We will support and sustain our commitments first and foremost to our students. Any program that exists today, whether undergraduate or graduate, will be allowed to matriculate students in the fall. We are committed to teaching out those students until they earn their degrees.

How will this impact the quality of a student’s education?

The academic integrity of The University of Tulsa remains unchanged, and these changes are meant to enhance the experience of our students. Undergraduate students can expect a more robust first-year experience that is consistent for every student and every entering class. These changes also will promote greater engagement between students and the university’s tenured and tenure-track faculty at every stage of a student’s academic journey.

When will you suspend enrollment into programs slated for closure?

Fall 2019 will be the final matriculation date for programs slated for closure.

Advancement/Alumni

Is my degree still valid from The University of Tulsa?

Yes, your degree is still as valid as when you earned it. The value of degrees awarded by The University of Tulsa remains unchanged, just as past changes to our academic programs have not negated the academic achievements of a student’s time at TU.

University Policy

Are there plans for faculty or staff layoffs?

As shared by the president and provost, there are no plans for layoffs.

Why is an early retirement plan being offered as these changes are announced?

We appreciate and value our tenured faculty for their dedication and contributions to the university. The Voluntary Tenured Faculty Retirement Incentive Program will allow the university to prioritize and reallocate funding for investment in the strategic goals and priorities identified in the university’s announcement. It also is meant to supplement the retirement resources of eligible faculty members who wish to retire.

Why aren’t employees included in the early retirement program?

Tenured faculty have a special contractual relationship with the university. Through tenure, the university commits to continue the employment of a faculty member except in very limited, clearly defined circumstances. The university is offering the Voluntary Tenured Faculty Retirement Incentive Program in recognition of this special relationship and to provide additional retirement resources for eligible faculty who choose to bring to a close their contract with the university.

Will faculty positions be eliminated as part of this change?

The university is upholding all of our commitments to resident faculty. We are not eliminating tenured or tenure-track faculty appointments, and we stand by our current contractual obligations to our resident contract faculty. An optional early retirement program has been offered for tenured faculty who are 60 years old, who have been at TU for at least 10 years and whose age and length of service add up to at least 75.

How will TU standardize teaching loads and class sizes?

The move toward financial sustainability for the institution requires more efficient utilization of resident faculty to provide excellent learning experiences for our students. In the 2018-19 review, the PPRC observed significant variability across the university in faculty teaching loads and class sizes. The PPRC recommends increased standardization across the institution with respect to these productivity measures.

How should colleges facilitate a master course schedule?

Colleges should create a master course schedule with a rolling two-year projection. This will allow department heads and advisors to work more effectively with students. The projected course offerings will be necessary should courses be canceled for not meeting minimum enrollment. An investment in a technology-oriented solution to streamline this process is likely needed.

What recommendations does the PPRC have for use of contract faculty?

The responsibilities, titles, and criteria for promotion for contract faculty members across the university need to be clarified and standardized. Colleges should collaborate to determine best practices to be implemented across the university.

How should TU improve the flexibility and consistency of its degree requirements campus wide?

The number of hours to complete a major differs substantially across programs at the university. Parameters (ranges) should be set for the number of hours required in a major and minor across the institution. Similarly, standards should be set for the credit hours taken outside of the major to ensure both breadth and depth of topics and learning. Further, disciplines should be prohibited from prescribing courses within the core curriculum for students in their programs.

How should TU grow and administer its online courses?

Online course offerings should be administered through centralized infrastructure and marketing at the university level. Faculty members teaching online courses should receive credit toward their teaching load, or be treated as a compensated overload arrangement, in a manner that is standardized across the university.

Will TU offer summer classes?

The determination of summer course offerings and compensation for summer teaching currently vary across the colleges. The PPRC recommends this as an issue to be addressed and standardized moving forward.

How can TU offer a more uniform system of academic advising?

Academic advisement for students plays a crucial role in retention. The complementary roles of centralized advising offices and faculty advisors vary among the colleges at TU. The PPRC believes that student advisement is a task that should be shared among all resident faculty members in each academic unit. To the extent, however, that certain faculty members have significant formal advisement responsibilities:

  • Overall policies related to academic advisement should be formulated at the college level and approved by the provost’s office.
  • Such policies should be transparent and should be regularly reviewed.
  • Academic advisement is an important service function. Faculty members with formal advising roles should receive consideration for reduced service roles in other areas.

 

 

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