‘Begin to make it right’: Lawmaker calls for increased Langston University funding

KOKH - May 16, 2024 5:43 am

State Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) is calling for increased funding for Langston University.

He worries the state has consistently underfunded the institution compared to its appropriations for Oklahoma State University—another land-grant university.

LU is also asking lawmakers for increased funding amid ongoing budget negotiations.

“We have a four-year institution here in Oklahoma that sometimes can’t have class when it rains outside in 2024. I don’t think there’s anybody who thinks that’s okay,” asserted Rep. Nichols about building improvement needs at LU.

In his view, Oklahoma’s only historically black higher education institution needs increased funding for building maintenance, student support, improved student outcomes, and more.

He’s calling for lawmakers to set aside approximately $17 million for LU for Fiscal Year 2025 to match the state’s appropriation to OSU based on a state-to-federal funding ratio.

From 2014 to 2024, LU should have received more than $160 million than it did from the state based on that ratio, according to LU records.

The relative lack of funding indicates “a real signal that we got a real problem there as it relates to how we… support students of color,” he argued.

LU documents show, “Based on comparative data, from 2014-2024, the 1862 Land Grant Institution (Oklahoma State University) was matched at an average rate of 3.14:1 state to federal appropriation. During the same period, Langston University was matched at an average of 0.47:1 state to federal appropriation.”

Rep. Nichols shared, “We know we have not done this right. It’s time for us to begin to make it right and do it on behalf of students.”

A 2023 Biden Administration report noted that over the past 30 years, LU missed out on over $400 million that it should have gotten when compared to other land-grant institutions on a per-student basis.

Investments in LU would result in a “real impact on Oklahoma’s economy, getting more post-secondary, I think, is critically important for Oklahoma. And I think it has a huge impact on black wealth generation,” added Rep. Nichols.

LU is also requesting that lawmakers set aside $3 million annually in endowment investments, $40 million for an agriculture-biotechnology center, and $25 million for its recently acquired Oklahoma City campus.

A University spokesman shared the following statement with FOX 25 regarding the lawmaker’s statements:

Langston University is encouraged by the significant efforts on the part of the legislature toward meeting the mandated match funding research and cooperative extension, further closing the gap of the reported more than $400 million discrepancy in funding since 1987. Langston University continues to communicate routinely with Oklahoma legislators regarding the variety of funding needs including support of academic programs, capital and infrastructure needs, and workforce initiatives. Langston University will continue to engage in discussions with state and federal leadership concerning the needs of the institution as a whole. We remain optimistic these discussions will continue in a positive manner to ensure that we carry out our land-grant mission to provide resources across Oklahoma.

Rep. Nichols expects the process of obtaining the increased funding to be challenging.

FOX 25 was unable to obtain responses from Oklahoma House and Senate appropriations leadership.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education did not immediately respond to FOX 25’s request for a response or for information on how state funding compares among public universities on a per-student basis.

 

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