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November 3, 2005 :: Oklahoma Colleges Will Use Grant Funds to Improve State’s ‘Brain Gain’ Goals

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Several Oklahoma public colleges and universities will receive grant funds totaling $1.8 million for the next year as part of a statewide higher education initiative to increase the percentage of Oklahoma’s population with college degrees.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have awarded Brain Gain Programs of Excellence Grants to five colleges and universities. Grants totaling $1.5 million will be allocated to the institutions each year for the next five years. Institutions receiving the grants are Cameron University, Lawton; Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Goodwell; Redlands Community College, El Reno; University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Chickasha; and Western Oklahoma State College, Altus.

“Today’s students seek high-quality, innovative and relevant academic programs that will prepare them to successfully compete in this knowledge-based, technology-driven global society,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “The State Regents’ Programs of Excellence initiative will help our colleges and universities build programs that meet these standards, as well as help attract and graduate students who may choose to remain in Oklahoma and contribute to the state’s prosperity.”

In all, 13 colleges submitted Programs of Excellence grant proposals, requesting nearly $4.5 million for the first year of the proposed initiatives. Each proposal had to address specific topics, including:

The State Regents will annually review each institution’s project, and a report on the project’s effectiveness must be submitted to the State Regents by October 2006. Funding for the projects could extend past the fifth year.

Five state system institutions will also receive a total of $300,000 in Brain Gain Improvement Grants. The grants are designed to aid college campuses in their efforts to improve student retention, graduation and degree completion. Each recipient must also report on their project’s effectiveness by October 2006.

East Central University, Ada, and Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, will receive about $67,500 each. ECU will use the funds to expand retention strategies it began last year with a grant, including career development and an early warning system. SEOSU will use its grant in support of adult learners, specifically focusing on learning communities, degree completion and job interviews.

The State Regents also awarded Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City with an improvement grant of more than $66,000 and OPSU with a $65,000 grant. OSU-OKC will use the grant money to create a proactive intervention strategy, dubbed PRIDE, which will help identify students needing support in order for them to be successful academically. OPSU’s improvement grant will help support the continuation of an initiative that provides peer tutoring and learning communities. It will also expand the school’s retention efforts for its Hispanic student population.

In addition, Rose State College, Midwest City, will receive nearly $34,000 for its Summer Bridge Program, an initiative during the summer semester that helps prepare academically disadvantaged students.

Nineteen colleges and universities submitted improvement grant proposals totaling more than $1.7 million.

“All of the institutions that submitted proposals for both of the grant programs should be commended for their commitment and dedication to their students and our state,” State Regents’ Chairman Cheryl P. Hunter said. “We are hopeful that these initiatives, along with others our institutions may implement in the near future, will help our state increase the number of Oklahomans who earn a college degree.”