november 12, 2003


Western awarded $495,000 USDA distance-learning grant

Western Oklahoma State College, Altus, was recently awarded $495,000 by the United States Department of Agriculture to be used for interactive distance learning.

This grant will fund interactive distance learning in the rural school districts of Cache and Hammond, and the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribal Complex, Concho; Kiowa Tribal Complex, Carnegie; and Iowa Indian Tribes, Perkins. The hub of the system will be located at Western Oklahoma State College.

The project will help the districts and tribes fulfill a need to provide expanded course offerings, provide higher education opportunities, and address the need for professional development. The proposal was written primarily for educational purposes, but will be available to businesses and communities on an as-needed basis.

This award brings the grand total of Western's grants from the USDA to $1.7 million over the past five years. The USDA, on behalf of the Rural Utilities Services (RUS), made the grant award under their Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant and Loan program. Previous grants to Western have also funded interactive distance learning in rural communities, tribes, and school districts.

Kent Brooks, chief of technology at Western, was the chief grant writer. He was assisted by Chad Wiginton, WINDS retention coordinator, and Celia Nippert, computer science and mathematics instructor.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have commended Western Oklahoma State College's distance learning program in the last two annual publications of its "Learning Site and Electronic Media Policies Report", calling Western an "exemplar" and ranking it as the top two or four-year college in the state.

Internationally, Brooks has an ongoing relationship with educators in New Zealand who are interested in Western’s program. Western’s distance learning program was also featured in TANDBERG’s international newsletter, "Face to Face" two years ago.

Contact: Alice Newman, 1-580-477-7701