Claremore Daily Progress

January 8, 2014

RSU celebrates opening of Pryor campus to bolster regional educational opportunity

Staff Reports
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — Rogers State University celebrated the opening of a new Pryor campus Tuesday at MidAmerica Industrial Park that will bolster educational opportunity and support workforce development in northeastern Oklahoma.

The two-story, 38,400-square-foot building was dedicated during an 11 a.m. ceremony at MidAmerica Industrial Park, which built the facility on the university’s behalf. The $10 million construction project, along with its accompanying 71-acre site, represents the single largest gift in the university’s history.

“The new RSU-Pryor campus is a game changer for higher education in this part of Oklahoma,” said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice. “Thanks to MidAmerica’s generosity, RSU will be able to better provide educational opportunities to Mayes County and neighboring communities. We look forward to continuing our work with the park’s employers and our other community partners to meet the region’s educational needs for generations to come.”

The building opened for operation on Jan. 2, and the first classes will be held on Jan. 13.

One of the nation’s largest industrial parks, MidAmerica constructed the new RSU campus to join the other higher educational facilities already on site, which includes Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and Northeastern Technology Center. This concentration of three resident partner educational institutions makes MidAmerica one of the most unique industrial parks in the country and demonstrates the organization’s dedication to workforce development.

“From a strategic point of view, this campus will be the cornerstone of future development for MidAmerica,” said Chief Administrative Officer David Stewart, “We clearly understand the necessity of well-trained and work-ready employees to facilitate the growth of our existing companies and to attract new ones. We want the people of northeastern Oklahoma to know they have a bright future right here at home.”

RSU has maintained a presence in Pryor since 1986 when the university, then operating as Rogers State College, opened at on the grounds of the Whitaker Education and Training Center.  From those beginnings, the RSU Pryor campus has grown to about 350 students. The campus is well-positioned to serve a variety of student needs, whether for traditional students just entering college or adult learners returning to school after working in business or industry. RSU students attending the Pryor campus consistently praise its small, closely knit academic community that helps them succeed and make smooth transition into a university environment.

RSU in Pryor has a distinguished track record for serving as a gateway for students seeking an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, either by exclusively attending RSU Pryor or combining traditional classes with RSU’s pioneering distance learning program.

More than twice the size of the previous facility, the new RSU campus features classrooms, computer labs, science labs, library, student lounge, food service and dining facilities, bookstore, meeting rooms and a 150-seat auditorium to be used for classroom use and the general public.

The auditorium and meeting rooms feature multimedia communication systems that allow instructors, students and community users access to high-definition audio and video, as well as interactive and remote conferencing technology.

The Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of the Tides Foundation provided a $40,000 grant that will support the technological backbone for the new facility. The grant helped RSU install a robust and flexible multimedia communication system and wireless connectivity. Google operates a data center at MidAmerica.

Construction on the RSU facility began in May 2012 and was completed this fall. Dewberry Architects, Inc. served as architects for the project, while Lowry & Hemphill Construction Co. served as the builder.