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UCSO board hires liaison to improve communications with partner institutions

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

The University Center of Southern Oklahoma Board of Trustees has a new partner to facilitate communication with three schools who have a footprint on the Ardmore campus.

The board last week approved the hire of Andre Moore as a liaison between them and representatives from Langston University, Murray State College and Southeastern Oklahoma State University. 

Andre Moore speaks to the University Center of Southern Oklahoma Board of Trustees Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. The board hired Moore as a liaison to improve communication between partner institutions and trustees.

“I think the partners really want to do what’s necessary here and that communications have to be maintained. That will be by role: making sure that communication is consistent and maintained,” Moore said after Thursday’s board meeting. 

The board voted to hire Moore on a part-time basis with a $2,500 monthly salary. The vote retroactively approved the job offer dating back to Jan. 1. 

Board of Trustees Chair Keith King said Moore will ultimately be responsible for maintaining relationships with educational partners. 

“This is a critical time, when our enrollment is down, that we maintain these relationships with our educational partners in order to get their support to help us increase the enrollment out here at the University Center,” King said on Thursday.  

While some partner institutions have enrolled record numbers of students this academic year, the number of credit hours earned at the Ardmore campus fell. For example, enrollment in MSC classes at UCSO dropped by more than 25% between September 2019 and September 2020. 

Moore told board members that a recent meeting with State System of Higher Education chancellor’s office emphasized a desire to see better communication between UCSO and partner institutions. He said the chancellor’s office was open-minded to USCO efforts and happy to see proactive efforts to “turn things around.” 

“But we have to develop a product, and that’s what we’re in the midst of doing at this point,” Moore told the USCO board. 

Any early marker to gauge efforts may come in the form of class offerings at the center. Moore said that classes deemed unnecessary at the Ardmore campus in previous years may need to be reevaluated if they would be more popular in a new decade. 

“I think everybody understands that there are other programs and other courses that can be brought here, and those things are going to be on the table,” he said. 

King also believes that expanding the available classes could increase enrollment. “Hopefully we’ll get more course offerings which will entice more students to come enroll at the University Center,” said King. 

 Moore said that higher education has become more complex over the years and he does not want to settle into any one way of delivering education.  

“If you want to improve yourself, you must do things and make changes that reflect on getting better,” he said. 

Moore served nine years as a USCO board member and most recently acted as the center’s interim CEO after Peggy Maher stepped down from the position in August 2020. He was replaced by USCO Finance Director Cyndi Stoker on an interim basis this year.