Q: Your predecessor, President Roger Webb, left a legacy of bringing the University of Central Oklahoma closer to the community with projects like the Jazz Lab in Edmond and the Academy of Contemporary Music in Bricktown. What do you hope your legacy will be?
A: The vision of being connected to the community will continue. Those projects express UCO's commitment to be in and of this place. We've also been able to raise enough money to break ground on the UCO boathouse on the Oklahoma River. The boathouse will be home to the UCO women's rowing team, and it will also be a venue for art and musical performances.
I hope to leave the legacy of helping students learn and helping the community thrive. UCO has thousands of graduates in the Edmond area. Regional universities like UCO have to power to affect their communities because students tend to stay in the area after they graduate. We want to make people's lives different.
Q: Student debt is becoming a national concern, especially with interest rates on subsidized federal student loans doubling this summer. How concerned are you about student debt?
A: That's a big issue. The national media tends to focus on the most egregious examples. For many of our students who have debt issues, that debt doesn't come from the education itself. It comes from things those students chose to buy.
It costs a third less to go to UCO than it does to go to OU or OSU, even after the tuition and fee increases that go into effect this fall.
UCO raised tuition and fees by 6.8 percent this year. If a student takes 30 hours this year, that amounts to 95 cents a day more than last year. There's a Starbucks on campus where there's always a line, and people pay more than 95 cents for coffee. But we're still concerned about students who don't seek an education because they don't think they'll be able to afford it.