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April 17, 2006 :: Community Leaders Named to GEAR UP Advisory Board

Media Contact: Amy Bruce
Office: 1.405.225.9281

Select education, business and community leaders from across the state will have an influential role in helping prepare students for college with their recent appointment to the inaugural advisory board for Oklahoma GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs).

GEAR UP, a federally funded program administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, is designed to better prepare middle and high school students for college through academic preparation programs and scholarships for students, professional development activities for educators, and college access information for students and parents.

“Our goal in forming the advisory board is to build a bridge of communication, as well as create a forum for innovation and advocacy among higher education, public education, the business community, civic organizations and students,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “The support and involvement of the advisory board is vital to our mission of helping prepare students for college.”

Those serving on the Oklahoma GEAR UP advisory board are: Susie Brown, director of marketing communications at Tulsa Community College; David Castillo, Oklahoma City Public Schools board member and executive director of the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Jered Davidson, state 4-H president; Dr. Jeff Hale, vice president for enrollment management and marketing and intercollegiate athletic programs at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant; Dr. Robert Howard, chemistry professor at The University of Tulsa; and Dr. Phyllis Hudecki, executive director of the Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition.

Other members are: J.P. Johnson, director of early college awareness at Oklahoma City Community College; Kim Sims Kohler, director of special projects for the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association; Rick Loggins, superintendent of Barnsdall Public Schools; Dr. Belinda McCharen, associate state director for career and support services at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education; Tina Peña, host of Temas en Tulsa, a television program produced in Spanish that covers current events and topics of importance to Spanish speaking viewers, and coordinator of the Tulsa Community College Metro Campus Spanish program; Rick Peters, deputy superintendent of Poteau Public Schools; Randy Talley, director of public relations at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha; and Elizabeth Wallace, a member of the chemistry faculty at Western Oklahoma State College, Altus.

“We are very proud and honored to have such an outstanding group of leaders volunteer their time and talent to GEAR UP,” State Regents’ Chairman Cheryl P. Hunter said. “Their diverse experience will only strengthen our efforts to help prepare Oklahoma students and their families for college.”

For more information on GEAR UP, visit or call 800.858.1840.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with state GEAR UP grants totaling $20.5 million in August 1999 and $20.6 million in August 2005. The grants have been matched by more than $47 million from state and partner resources. With the addition of the 2005 multi-year, federal grant, Oklahoma's GEAR UP program will ultimately receive more than $45.6 million in federal funds by 2011. GEAR UP receives 49 percent of total funding from the federal government and 51 percent from other organizations.