NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents approved the fiscal year 2022 budget, which includes a tuition increase, as well as merging the College of Medicine’s faculty practice with OU Health Hospitals, which would create Oklahoma’s first truly integrated, comprehensive academic health system.
The FY22 budget, in part, raises tuition and mandatory fees 2.75 percent for Norman campus programs. It’s the first such increase in four years, according to OU officials.
“This is never an easy decision, and we don’t make it lightly,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “This year’s increase will significantly support our strategic plan, which defines our vision for the university’s long-term sustainability and success. At the heart of our strategic plan is the student experience and our obligation to prepare students for success and positive impact. Continuing this commitment for future generations requires us all to share in the contributions and efforts to achieve it.”
Harroz said the tuition and fees increase will ultimately benefit students. He said OU is one of two Oklahoma universities that hasn’t raised undergraduate tuition since the 2017-2018 academic year.
“As part of the strategic plan, we will expand our student services, enhance academic programs, fund innovative research, invest in hiring new faculty and more. Many of these investments are long overdue, but all we believe, will sustain OU’s excellence for generations,” he said.
The Board of Regents approved the definitive agreement to merge the College of Medicine’s faculty practice, OU Health Physicians, with OU Health hospitals into one unified organization, creating the state’s first truly integrated, comprehensive academic health system.
“Today’s vote by the Board of Regents is a historic day for health care in Oklahoma,” Harroz said. “For the first time, patients will move seamlessly between the clinical offices of the state’s largest and most specialized physicians, OU Physicians, to the hospital in which they operate – all while receiving research-driven care available nowhere else in Oklahoma. This will undoubtedly improve outcomes, provide unequaled patient care and amplify our research that benefits countless other patients and helps drive our state’s economy.”
The merger is designed to produce a “seamless experience for patients between clinics and hospitals, improve overall quality of care, infuse research breakthroughs into care plans and improve Oklahoma’s ability to attract and retain the brightest minds across the national health care landscape,” OU officials said.
OU Health Sciences Center is poised to experience a dramatic increase in health care research because of the merger, officials said.
“This merger of equals into a single enterprise will bring immense benefits to the patients we serve, Oklahoma, and our students and employees,” Harroz said. “Uniting the strengths of these organizations will give Oklahomans the true flagship academic health system that our state needs. In the past, Oklahomans have traveled to other states to find treatment options fueled by the innovation that comes when researchers and physicians work side-by-side in academic hospital settings. Now that model will be available in the heart of Oklahoma under the OU banner.”