NICEVILLE, FL---The Okaloosa-Walton College district board of trustees approved a $28,625,600 college operating budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year -- a 0.6 percent increase of $184,138 over last fiscal year. Dr. Bob Richburg, OWC president, credited growth in student enrollment, the college budget committee's work, and trustee leadership with being able to present a balanced operating budget that allows for new programs, such as the bachelor's degrees in teacher education, and continuation of all services and programs for students and the community.
Included in the budget is a state approved 6 percent increase in student fees that still maintains OWC's status as the college with the lowest total student fees of any public or private college or university in Florida. OWC tuition and fees will increase from $63 per credit hour to $66.78 per credit hour for most associate degree courses and from the current $74.74 to $79.81 per credit hour for baccalaureate programs.
Trustees also approved extending the state's border state fee option to provide in-state fees to Alabama residents enrolled in bachelor's programs at OWC. Previously the border state fee was applied only to OWC associate degree programs. Thus, Alabama residents may now enroll in OWC bachelor's degree programs such as teacher education, project management or nursing for $80.81 per credit hour rather than the regular out-of-state fee of $319.24 per credit. "We anticipate that this change will greatly assist those residents who live just over the line in South Alabama to expand their educational options," said Richburg, who noted that Florida allows colleges whose service district borders another state the option to approve in-state tuition, plus a $1 per credit hour fee, for border state residents.
The total college budget reflecting all funds approved by trustees is $111,424,757 which includes a $25.5 million state appropriation for renovation/remodeling of the College Mall, building K, on the Niceville campus for Student Services; $3.9 million for construction of the OWC South Walton Center; $2.1 million for college-wide maintenance, repairs and renovation; and other items.
In other action, OWC trustees elected Wesley Wilkerson of DeFuniak Springs to serve as chairman of the trustee board. Wilkerson has been a member of the board since 2002. Sandy Sims of Niceville was elected to serve as vice-chair. Members of the District Board of Trustees are appointed by the governor and generally serve a 4-year term on the college's governing board.
OWC trustees also approved a 65-year lease with the Okaloosa County Commission for the 911 Emergency Operations Center portion of the Community Services Complex being built on the Niceville campus. The terms of the lease contain a $10 per year payment to OWC and a reverter clause which returns the facility to OWC if the county should cease to occupy or use the premises for its governmental operations. The OWC board previously approved a memorandum of understanding with Okaloosa County on the project which established the county's share to construct the facility at $7 million.
Trustees also approved:
-Naming of the circular Visual Arts building in the college's arts complex the "Marie Snow Greene Visual Arts Building" in honor of a trust gift by the late Marie Greene of Shalimar; a gift through which the college also previously named the "Robert E. Greene Jr. Science Building" on the Niceville Campus in memory of Marie Greene's late husband;
- The 2008-09 season schedule and ticket pricing for the Broadway and Artist Series at the college's Mattie Kelly Fine and Performing Arts Center (see separate press release);
- Revisions to the admissions criteria for the bachelor's degrees in nursing and teacher education which allow qualified students provisional admission for one term pending completion of required state testing and licensure;
The OWC trustees also discussed possible name changes for the college as OWC will be elevated to a state college status. Trustees plan to formally select name possibilities at the next scheduled trustee meeting on July 15 at 6:30 pm in the Gallery of the College Mall, building K on the OWC Niceville campus. As the governing board of the college, trustee meetings are open to the public.