In a campus-wide press release distributed today, University of Central Oklahoma President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar announced her intent to leave the university, effective Jan. 31, 2023.
“I am sad to leave my wonderful colleagues and friends at UCO. We’ve been through some incredible times over the past 15 years,” Neuhold-Ravikumar said. “My love for UCO is inextricably linked to this community of people, and I am proud of what we have achieved together.”
Neuhold-Ravikumar intends to move to Kansas City, Missouri, where her wife currently serves as president of the Kansas City Art Institute, according to the press release.
“My wife and I have lived half a country apart for more than five years. Our commitment to each other’s success is what enabled us to live this way for so long,” she explained. “We find ourselves on the flipside of that situation now. It is our commitment to each other’s success that is leading our decision to now live in the same place together.”
The press release included a statement from the Regional University System of Oklahoma Board of Regents, which governs UCO and five other regional institutions in the state.
“The regents for the Regional University System of Oklahoma have accepted President Neuhold-Ravikumar’s resignation,” said Connie Reilly, RUSO board chairperson. “We are grateful for her many contributions and wish her the very best as she prioritizes spending time with her family. President Neuhold-Ravikumar’s 15 years of dedicated service have helped make UCO a top regional university committed to academic excellence and preparing our students for success.”
The RUSO Board of Regents “will announce a path forward for university leadership in the coming weeks,” according to the press release.
University dealing with enrollment, financial struggles
The last year of Neuhold-Ravikumar’s presidency has been clouded by a $15 million budget deficit caused by a steep decline in enrollment over the past several years. The issue has caused tension between university administration and faculty, and the RUSO Board of Regents discussed the employment of Neuhold-Ravikumar and other RUSO school presidents during an executive session at its Sept. 9 meeting.
A number of proposals to solve UCO’s budget problem have been floated this year, including cutting faculty positions, increasing the university’s student-teacher ratio and instituting new fees.
In May, Neuhold-Ravikumar announced that the university would be eliminating 30 vacant faculty positions, and UCO requested that the RUSO Board of Regents approve a tuition increase of 3 percent, or $6.82 per credit hour.
In September, an email sent from an unnamed UCO official to the liberal arts department stated that declining enrollment could force UCO to part ways with an additional 30 full-time faculty by the end of the school year.
In October, Charlotte Simmons, UCO’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, sent a campus-wide email announcing that the university would initiate a review of all academic programs and majors to “to ensure the most effective allocation of our resources.”
UCentralMedia reported that during an Oct. 5 faculty town hall, faculty members applauded after the idea of a “no confidence” vote on Neuhold-Ravikumar was raised.
Neuhold-Ravikumar became UCO’s first female president in July 2019. She has been at the university since 2007 and has served in a variety of roles, including as the vice president for finance.