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Lawmakers Approve Branch Campus in Ardmore (Apr 21, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY - What had been the Ardmore Higher Education Center will be taken over by Southeastern Oklahoma State University under a bill passed today in the Oklahoma House, and some lawmakers say East Central University in Ada was the loser in this legislative battle.

In its original form, House Bill 1227 would have only changed the name of the Ardmore Higher Education Center.

But amendments in the state Senate transformed the legislation into a grab for the center by Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

State Representative Todd Thomsen said the intent to protect the other schools at the center is not enough.

“The simple request was, ‘President from Southeastern, are you willing to give us some commitments that we’ll be able to offer some of those other courses so that we can actually pay for that? No. Can we have some commitments from you on anything? No.’ Ardmore says ‘we’re going to give you promises’. That’s really generous of Ardmore. We’re not handing control over to Ardmore. We’re handing control over to Southeastern,” Thomsen said.

But the bill’s author, Representative Pat Ownbey, says there is plenty of time to work out the details for the Southeastern takeover.

“It allows a three year transition period,” Ownbey said. “Three years. Three years for the universities to get together and talk about it. Three years. Many of the other campuses offer several courses from other universities. We expect the same thing at Southeastern and ECU.”

The proposal now awaits the signature of Governor Mary Fallin.

by Kurt Gwartney

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