Ardmore center branch campus bill goes to governor

The state House of approved a bill that would make the Ardmore Higher Education Center a branch campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, which is based in Durant.

House Bill 1227, by state Rep. Pat Ownbey and state Sen. Frank Simpson, both Ardmore Republicans, includes a number of provisions to protect the colleges that contribute courses to the Ardmore Higher Education Center. 

One provision would allow Murray State College to retain exclusive authority to offer all lower division courses and programs at the Ardmore campus. Another provision would ban the Ardmore campus from duplicating the nursing program courses offered at the East Central University campus in Ardmore. 

A final provision would allow East Central University to continue programs historically offered in Ardmore until 2014 and require administrators of Southeastern Oklahoma State University and East Central University to agree on which courses East Central will offer in Ardmore.

“Southern Oklahoma deserves increased opportunities for higher education and House Bill 1227 will provide those opportunities,” Ownbey said. “This type of consolidation has been done with every other higher education center in the state and was overdue for the Ardmore Higher Education Center. The legislation will not cost the state money and will be of great economic benefit to Southern Oklahoma. I greatly appreciate the support it received.”

“I am excited about what this means for Southern Oklahoma,” Simpson said. “A full-fledged branch university in Ardmore will give more Oklahomans the opportunity to attain a higher education and will help boost the economy of the region. As several members pointed out today, we might even draw in students from Texas.”

H. B.1227 passed by a vote of 63-30 and now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin.