The Duncan Banner

January 17, 2013

Cameron president retiring


The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — On Tuesday, Cameron University President Cindy Ross announced her plans to retire this summer.

“The arrival of the new year always brings a time of reflection for me. As I reflect on the fall semester and the preceding 10 years, I am amazed at the transformation of Cameron University,” Ross said.

 “Much has been accomplished through the hard work and dedication of the faculty and staff coupled with our supportive and generous community. Reflection also brings with it a responsibility to understand when it is time to move to the next chapter. I believe that time has come for me and for Cameron University. The university is flourishing; it is strong academically and financially with solid enrollment. The university’s future could not be brighter.”

“It is with the deepest admiration, thanks and best wishes for her future that the Board of Regents hesitantly accepts the retirement of President Cindy Ross,” University of Oklahoma, Rogers State University and Cameron University Board of Regents Chairman Leslie J. Rainbolt-Forbes says. “I have had the good fortune that Dr. Ross has provided the Cameron University leadership during my entire tenure as a Regent. With her guidance, Cameron has experienced enrollment growth and an all-time high in fundraising as well as a physical transformation of the campus and increased economic development in the community and region. She has set a high standard for all University presidents in the state.”

Since becoming president in August 2002, Ross has enhanced the reputation and visibility of the university. Under her leadership:

* Cameron has become the “University of Choice” for students graduating from high school in Southwest Oklahoma, resulting in consecutive years of historic enrollment growth boasting more than 6,000 students this fall.

* Cameron has received national recognition for affordability four consecutive years from U.S. News and World Report. Last year, the university was number three out of 626 universities in the nation with students graduating with the lowest debt – 68 percent of Cameron students graduated without any debt.

* In 2010, the university received the best accreditation report in its history earning a 10-year unconditional accreditation. The HLC review team called Cameron a “role model institution” nationally and noted that “student learning is at the center of what it does and despite significant statewide budget cuts, the institution was able to redesign itself to meet changing student needs.”

* Cameron’s centennial observance in 2008-09 included a year-long celebration of its rich history and the largest, three-year private fundraising campaign of any regional university in Oklahoma raising over $12.5 million, almost 50% above the goal.

* More than $60 million in construction has transformed the physical appearance of campus. New or renovated state-of-the-art buildings include the McMahon Centennial Complex, Business Building, Center for Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Studies (Phases I and II), Cameron Village, and the Academic Commons. New additions to campus include the Bentley Gardens, Charles S. Graybill M.D. Courtyard, and Veterans Grove, and just over 600 trees have been planted throughout campus.

* Three five-year strategic plans and two campus master plans have been developed and implemented including ambitious goals and objectives and actions to aggressively move the university forward.

* The university has received record private contributions including one gift of $4 million and four donations of $1 million or above. The university boasts the largest number of endowed faculty positions of any Oklahoma regional university.

* New student services have been provided including a Student Wellness Center offering counseling and acute medical care, an Academic Advising Center, new and renovated athletic facilities, and expanded student activities and organizations.

* The university has been recognized nationally for its commitment to veterans, service members and their families being named to multiple honor roll lists by military organizations and publications.

* Requirements for faculty have been increased, and academic programs have been strengthened with many receiving regional and national recognitions, including the university’s ROTC program being named one of the top three programs in the nation in 2011; the Department of Education receiving a “perfect” re-accreditation report, and the Department of Physical Sciences earning approval from the American Chemical Society to grant ACS-certified degrees in chemistry. Even with record enrollment growth, class sizes remain small.

* More than 100 enhanced or “smart” classrooms have been added, bringing the latest technology to the learning environment.

* Online course offerings have increased more than 275 percent in courses offered and 286 percent in students enrolled.

* New traditions have been created including re-introduction of the university mascot, Ole Kim, the holiday tree lightings, the Athletic Hall of Fame and reinstatement of a Homecoming bonfire and pep rally, and the addition of fireworks following commencement.

* Cameron University is the only university in the state and one of the few in the nation to provide a guarantee on the quality of education graduates receive.

Ross, who is fond of saying “I have the best job in the world,” states, “It has been a distinct honor to work with the talented faculty and staff, an absolute joy to interact with the students, and a unique privilege to be a member of this vibrant community.”

Related to her future plans, Ross notes, “Cameron University is part of me and always will be. In retirement as I pursue other interests and activities, foremost among them being ‘Googie’ to my granddaughter, my commitment to and pride in Cameron University will continue.” In characteristic fashion, Ross continues, “Now, there is much to be done during the second half of this academic year; it’s time to do it.”

Chairman Rainbolt-Forbes indicated that the Board of Regents will be initiating a search process to seek another outstanding leader for Cameron University.