By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9
NORMAN, Okla. -- The University of Oklahoma announced Monday a job freeze for all employment opportunities. The university considered economic trends nationwide and decided to prepare itself financially in the case of a budget crunch.
With more than 11,600 employees on payroll, OU is the sixth largest employer in the state, according to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
OU President David Boren issued a statement saying, "With the economic uncertainly faced by our nation and the likely shortage of funds available to the next legislature for appropriation, it is prudent for me to take action now."
State Senator Clark Jolley (R-District 41) said the decision by Boren was a wise one.
"If you can take a look at your revenues and make sure you're not going to over spend potential revenues you might be getting, that's the smarter way to go," Jolley said.
Jolley is the Chairman of the Senate appropriations sub-committee for education. Since 2005, the state has increased funding for higher education by more than $1 billion, and OU recently increased tuition and fees by 9.9 percent for resident students.
Boren considered the hiring freeze as a preventative measure, in case Oklahoma finds itself in the same financial crisis as some other states.
"By imposing a freeze on new hiring now, we can hopefully hold down future increases in student tuition and fees and protect jobs of those already employed by the University," Boren stated.
Although Boren is preparing for a potential cut in appropriations, Jolley said there's no indication state funding will be cut.
"We're doing everything on our end to make sure that Oklahomans have higher education as a priority," Jolley said.
Boren said there will be some exceptions to the freeze, such as safety and positions essential to education.
The last time OU put a hiring freeze in place was 2002, as a result of the economic uncertainty following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.