Northeastern State University Occupational Therapy Program Receives $200,000 Gift
Thanks to a generous gift of $200,000 from Northeastern State University alumni Jesse and Marilyn Gailey, NSU-Muskogee will open a multifunctional living skills laboratory. University officials, members of the Gailey family, Muskogee community members and allied health partners gathered for the announcement March 1.
The keystone of the Northeastern’s new occupational therapy program, the lab will allow master’s degree candidates to further their physical and occupational therapy skills in a real-world environment. The living skills lab will have all the comforts of home — a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and washer/dryer for students to practice their skills. The occupational therapy program is scheduled to begin in January 2014 with 20 students.
NSU President Steve Turner cited the event as a milestone day for allied health in the Muskogee community.
“The Gailey family’s contribution today makes almost half a million dollars to support NSU academic programs — endowed chairs, scholarships, and now, in allied health with occupational therapy,” said Turner.
“Whether you’re a baby boomer or a millennial, allied health is a component that is going to help an enormous amount of people. That’s what we are doing today by announcing and launching this initiative. If it doesn’t touch you now, it will.”
According to the Eastern Oklahoma Regional Healthcare Workforce Summit in September 2010, occupational therapist is the most critical health care occupation needed in the region. Northeastern’s newest program addition, occupational therapy, solidifies the university’s role as a regional leader in health care education, offering degrees in nursing, dietetics and nutrition, speech-language pathology, medical laboratory science, and pre-professional health programs.
“We are pleased to be able to make this kind of donation,” said Mark Gailey, son of Marilyn and Jesse. “I know my father would be very happy. This is actually a better fit than some folks might think since he was a business graduate. It touches our family, just like it touches everyone’s. We want to continue to support NSU. It is very important to us.”
A 1964 graduate of NSU, Jesse Gailey was the president of Totah Telephone Co. Inc. from 1966-98 and served as chair the board of Totah Communications until his death in 2012. He served as a member of the NSU Foundation board for 12 years.
NSU’s Master of Science in occupational therapy envisions a 30-month, 81-hour program that will focus on training high-quality occupational therapists for the rural region of eastern Oklahoma. The program will be designed to meet the requirements of the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education of the American Occupational Therapy Association for professional accreditation.
Cultural sensitivity education to the American Indians served in the area will be integrated throughout the curriculum and will complement the professional programming within the coursework. The program addresses the curricular standards of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
“Occupational therapists help people be as independent as possible. We see people across the lifespan — from 6 months to 99 years old,” said Dr. Judy Melvin, NSU occupational therapy program director.
“It’s a very hands-on profession and the living skills lab is at the heart of what we do with our students. They will actually get to practice the skills they are going to need when they are treating patients to become as independent as they can be. This donation is the type of thing that keeps on giving.”