EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – University of Central Oklahoma President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar responded to some concerns in a short video Friday after Wednesday’s protest by students and faculty regarding a budget deficit and potential cuts of staff positions.
Neuhold-Ravikumar addressed information she said was incorrect just days after the students marched to her office and delivered a letter expressing several concerns. The concerns deal with a multi-million-dollar budget deficit and potential cuts to over 40 university positions.
“The fact that it has come to this point shows the lack of care in our administration, the lack of transparency and the gross mishandling of our budget,” said UCO student Logan Boyd at Wednesday’s protest.
“In our conversation,” Neuhold-Ravikumar said, talking about speaking with students, “I heard some information that was not correct, and I want to address that quickly.”
Neuhold-Ravikumar said there was a number shared with her, claiming 53 positions were being eliminated. She said the only number that has been shared was “40 plus full-time equivalent faculty positions.”
“There has not been an exact number determined yet,” she said.
Students reacted to Neuhold-Ravikumar comments on Friday.
“There needs to be a much more clear response to the actual people that are being affected,” said UCO student Leelandd Gates.
“If they get cut, like, it’s a big disappointment,” said UCO student Azaria Wright.
University officials have blamed declining long-term enrollment on the budget issue, citing a near 17.5 percent decline over 5 years. Job cuts are only one area being considered.
“In one academic year we lost 8.9 percent, which is equivalent to 50 full time faculty,” said Nikki Seagraves, UCO Associate Biology Professor. “The impact that faculty have on students and encouraging them and getting them into professions is immeasurable.”
Neuhold-Ravikumar also mentioned a Title IX issue involving personnel that is currently in litigation. Because of that, she said she can’t discuss it in detail. However, she said she would like to see a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct. She also urged students to speak to the faculty senate to get that done.