Northeastern State University to Benefit From $10K BACF Commitment
The path to completing a college education can be littered with life’s interruptions. Family obligations, military service, economic restraints, job conflicts and other circumstances can complicate or postpone the journey for some.
On Aug. 17 Oklahoma, Broken Arrow and Northeastern State University officials joined Gov. Mary Fallin at NSU-Broken Arrow for the announcement of a $10,000 pledge by the Broken Arrow Community Foundation Inc. toward scholarships for adult students returning to college.
This money is designed to ease the financial burden for adult learners who want to return to college and complete their unfinished degree programs. It also serves as a challenge for other community foundations across Oklahoma to support the initiative by making similar or larger pledges.
Created and administered by BACF, the gift supports Gov. Fallin’s Complete College America and parallels Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Reach Higher initiatives which work to increase the number of degree earners in the state.
“As a state, it’s vitally important to our long-term economic success to have a highly skilled and educated workforce in order to attract and retain good jobs and investment to our state,” Fallin said. “Additionally, we know a majority of jobs in the future will require a college degree or career certificates. Thanks to the generosity of the Broken Arrow Community Foundation and its partnership with Northeastern State University, more students will be able to return to school to finish their degrees, putting them on the path to success and helping Oklahoma build a more skilled workforce.”
According to Randy Swearengin, BACF chairman, scholarships will be awarded to adult learners who live in the Broken Arrow metropolitan area to assist with tuition, fees, books and other educational costs. The Broken Arrow Community Foundation board of directors will announce the number and amounts of scholarships later, Swearengin noted.
“The Broken Arrow Community Foundation is extremely pleased and proud to be a part of such an important initiative to assist our adult learners to achieve success in their careers and lives in the Broken Arrow community,” Swearengin said. “All of us in the BACF recognize the short- and long-term impact that achievement of degree completion will have on Oklahoma, and specifically in our region. We are on the right track and the BACF today is demonstrating our commitment.”
Regional University System of Oklahoma regent Jan Gordon, who is also a board member for BACF, said she was excited to help adult learners complete their degrees.
“All of us associated with the Broken Arrow community, and especially the Broken Arrow Community Foundation, are excited and pleased to be a part of this marvelous and collaborative effort to support those in our community who are committed to completing their college degrees and investing in their pursuit to fulfill their career dreams and aspirations,” Gordon said.
Potential scholarship recipients will be identified with NSUBA staff assistance and recommended to the Broken Arrow Community Foundation. The adult learners will be encouraged to complete their degree studies at NSU.
“Every newly earned degree lifts that individual and lifts our entire community to new levels of excellence, opportunity and quality of life,” Gordon said. “Serving as a Regional System of Oklahoma [RUSO] regent I am reminded of how critical college degree completion is to Oklahoma’s future and as a BACF board member how crucial this support will be in Broken Arrow as we position our citizens and inspire other foundations and donors to build the new Oklahoma economy.”
NSU President Steve Turner also expressed his appreciation for the scholarship commitment.
“The scholarships provided by the Broken Arrow Community Foundation will have a positive and direct impact on our students and their ability to complete their degrees,” Turner said. “On behalf of NSU, I want to thank the Broken Arrow Community Foundation for their support and commitment to students.”
The press conference, acknowledging the BACF scholarship, is the official public announcement of the challenge gift extended to other public and private foundations in support of higher education in Oklahoma which will support Governor Fallin’s state wide initiative of Complete College America by using select criteria from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Reach Higher degree completion program.
Dr. Glen D. Johnson, Oklahoma higher education chancellor, applauded the endorsement of the Governor’s initiative.
“An increase in degrees of this magnitude will require a great deal of effort by our colleges and universities, and we are completely committed to accomplishing this goal in order to compete successfully and meet the demands of the global marketplace. This initiative will be our top priority for 2012,” Johnson said.
“Northeastern State University is pleased to join Gov. Fallin and Chancellor Johnson as a partner in the Complete College America (CCA) initiative. It is encouraging to be involved with leaders who recognize that a bachelor’s degree is a great investment and it prepares young people to be successful in life,” said Turner. “Our ability to increase the number of degrees at NSU to meet the CCA goals comes with a cost. We appreciate the Broken Arrow Community Foundation for taking the lead to provide direct support to our students.”
The Broken Arrow Community Foundation approved the financial support pledge earlier in the summer after board members learned of Gov. Fallin’s expressed support for a national Complete College America/Complete to Compete Program. Complete College America (CCA) is a nonprofit organization that was established in 2009 for the purposes of focusing on increasing the number of individuals with post-secondary credentials.
NSU has been working with the Broken Arrow Community Foundation board members to discuss how Northeastern could assist in the scholarship process. NSU recently launched an effort through the NSU College of Extended Learning to seek out area adult learners with incomplete degree programs and assist them to begin anew to complete their degrees.
The National Governor’s Association (NGA) adopted the measures being advocated by CCA in their initiative known as Complete to Compete. Gov. Fallin embraced that initiative for Oklahoma and has been proposing support for the idea. The $10,000 Broken Arrow commitment in support of the program is believed to be the first such public support announcement.