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Langston University continually underfunded, House Democrats call for audit

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Langston University campus

House Democrats are calling for an audit following a federal report showing that Langston University, Oklahoma’s only historically Black college, has been historically underfunded.

A report from the U.S. Department of Education last year revealed Oklahoma is one of 16 states that have been underfunding their historically Black colleges and universities by over $12 billion.

Representatives Jason Lowe and Regina Goodwin spoke to reporters last week, calling on Oklahoma’s State Regents of Higher Education to conduct an audit to understand how Langston University was short-changed.

Their request comes after the legislature passed several house bills allocating tens of millions of dollars to the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University while finalizing the state budget for fiscal year 2025.

  • HB 2891 appropriates $80 million to build or expand science, math and technology facilities and research labs at OU.
  • HB 2892 authorizes the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority to use $80 million from the Legacy Capital Financing Fund to construct or expand facilities for engineering instruction and research at OU. 
  • HB 2893 allocates $80 million from the Legacy Capital Financing Fund to build or expand OSU's life science facilities.

In comparison, the legislature budgeted only 2.5 million for Langston University for similar projects.

Goodwin, during a joint committee on appropriations and budget meeting, said she supports OU and OSU’s development, but she worries that Langston is being forgotten.

“As we consider both funding OU and OSU…somewhere, Langston University gets lost in this process,” Goodwin said. “Where are our priorities when it comes to schools that have been traditionally underfunded?”

Rep. John Talley, R-Stillwater, who represents Langston and OSU in the legislature, defended the bill, saying the funding to OU and OSU will stimulate workforce development and have long-term benefits to the state economy.

Talley said the committee was looking at ways to give more money to Langston, just not right now.

In 2023, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cordona and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack sent a letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt saying Langston University has been underfunded by more than $400 million over the past 30 years.

“These funds could have supported infrastructure and student services and would have better positioned the university to compete for research grants,” the letter said. “Langston University has been able to make remarkable strides and would be much stronger and better positioned to serve its students, your state, and the nation if made whole with respect to this funding gap.”

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Anusha Fathepure is a summer intern at KOSU as part of the Inasmuch Foundation's Community Fellowship Class.
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