New Era at Oklahoma Christian
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Posted by: Katy Roybal
Op-Ed from NewsOK.com
By Mike E. O'Neal
Oklahoma Christian University has been blessed to be part of the dynamic communities in central Oklahoma since moving here 50 years ago. OC owes much of its success to partnerships with the leaders of Oklahoma City, Edmond and the other wonderful area communities.
We recently announced that the university exceeded its $60 million Higher Learning-Higher Calling Campaign goal more than a year and a half early and by more than $4 million. That campaign has transformed the university.
Students now benefit from additional scholarships, enriched academic and extracurricular programs and new facilities. University friends have funded 50 new or substantially increased endowed scholarships, four endowed faculty chairs, three endowed centers, and numerous other academic and administrative endowment funds. Major capital projects funded by the campaign include the Lawson Commons, new and remodeled science facilities, new intramural fields and a new baseball field.
For our piece in this partnership with the community, Oklahoma Christian is a significant contributor to the central Oklahoma economy and community. With a payroll in excess of $15 million, an operating budget of $38 million and millions in annual capital projects, OC's contribution to the annual economic activity in central Oklahoma likely exceeds $100 million. Nearly 60 percent of OC's 2,000 undergraduate students are from outside Oklahoma, bringing business and new residents to central Oklahoma.
More than 6,000 OC graduates live in Oklahoma and are important contributors in many of our largest Oklahoma companies and organizations, including Chesapeake, Devon, BancFirst, MidFirst Bank, OPUBCO, Boeing, Tinker, SandRidge Energy, and OG&E.
Oklahoma Christian has almost 200 international students who bring not only dollars into the state, but quality people who will have a chance to see what Oklahoma offers. This year, OC will be educating 58 of the brightest young people from Rwanda in a deliberate strategy for nation-building there. Rwandan President Paul Kagame has confirmed that he will deliver the commencement address next spring for the first graduating class of these Rwandan Presidential Scholars.
The successful Higher Learning-Higher Calling campaign launches a new era at Oklahoma Christian and we are working to become the highest-quality, faith-based university in this region — Oklahoma's premier Christian university. We are excited to be part of a dynamic community that has a great future as well. I want to thank everyone for the many ways you encourage and support the work of our faculty, staff and students. May God continue to bless this community, our nation and this university.
O'Neal is president of Oklahoma Christian University.