To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Monday, July 22, 2024

Observercast

OU On My Mind

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I’ve been very lucky to be allowed to lead 62 different courses for adults over the last 10 years. I get to participate in the program known as Lifelong Learning which is led by one of the very finest executives I’ve ever worked for – Chris Elliot, by name. He’s a well-educated, funny, smart, deeply informed and talented leader and has very gifted folks working with him in a program that I think is among the best at the entire University of Oklahoma.

Having said that, there is a different area of great responsibility that needs attention and soon. Simply said, there are too many dean positions unfilled and a couple of them have been vacant for years. [Read the OU Daily of April 18 for extensive details on the problem. It matters to have strong, consistent and reliable professionals at the pinnacle of important colleges within OU, especially at a time when our flagship university is transitioning to the Southeast Conference.

Our vacancies at the top are by far the highest in our current home within the Big XII and will remain in that dubious category once aligned in our new accumulation of universities.

These jobs pay well, so why is OU the outlier among similar institutes of higher education? Two reasons quickly come to mind:

1. From 2011-20 universities and colleges in Oklahoma were cut by the Legislature more deeply than experienced in any other state. The deepest. The most damaging. The worst. And our Legislature and two governors during that stretch actually seemed to be proud of themselves for that last-in-the-nation ranking.

2. Our increasingly lame duck governor, Kevin Stitt, has done everything in his power to shower ridicule and red tape on OU; he has attacked DEI initiatives and actually outlawed the programs; he’s caused the loss of millions of research dollars at the OU Health Sciences Center; he’s favored OSU in uncalled ways related to appropriations; he forced the resignation of Glen Johnson as chancellor; he’s promoted unconstitutional funding formula changes within our public schools; he has alienated most all 39 tribes, chilling their contributions for good public works including research and infrastructure initiatives; and at least one of his appointments to the OU Board of Regents will soon begin serving a five-year sentence for stealing millions from his employer; and he’s done nothing to rein in the idiotic comments and despotic actions of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ryan Walters, much to the chagrin of education professionals everywhere.

As informed folks know, the greater the percentage of adults with college degrees or higher in the population of a state, it then follows that the overall average income, GDP, job creation, quality of life, population gain, environmental awareness and many other attractive factors will be found at higher percentages as compared to lower ranking states.

We need more college graduates and we’re not going to get them with the Know Nothing Crowd currently in charge of the Legislature, and it doesn’t help that the same incompetency is found in the Governor’s Mansion.

Here’s hoping voters will inform themselves about the candidates they will choose from in June and then again in the general election Nov. 5.

Like the pole vaulter pictured here, it seems too many of our elected officials can’t seem to quite get over the bar of life and therefore land back in the past … a terrible place to be and an even worse one for your kids and grandkids.

Moral of the story: Don’t let your kids grow up to be pole vaulters if they don’t know which direction is forward and which is backwards.

Cal Hobson
Cal Hobson
Cal Hobson, a Lexington Democrat, served in the Oklahoma Legislature from 1978-2006, including one term as Senate President Pro Tempore.