MARCH 25, 2009

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RSU Celebrates Centennial With New Building, Fanfare

Photo of RSU centennial logo.

Rogers State University celebrated its 100th birthday on March 25 – the date of its founding in 1909. The celebration featured the dedication and naming of a new centerpiece building on the Claremore campus, a parade down Will Rogers Boulevard and a presentation by CBS correspondent Jeff Greenfield.

RSU also premiered a hard-cover coffee table book and documentary film about its history during the gala celebration.

The day full of activities kicked off with the dedication of the new Student Center. The ceremony featured remarks by area dignitaries, recognition of contributors, and the official opening of the new facility. The name of the building was announced at the event – the Centennial Center.

Following the ceremony, several hundred guests joined in a birthday party, which featured guided tours of the new building, food served by local restaurants, and of course, a multi-tiered birthday cake topped by a gold dome. The original flagship building on the main campus, Preparatory Hall, is known for its iconic gold dome, which is visible for miles on College Hill.

In addition, John Wooley, author of 100 Years on the Hill, the new pictorial book chronicling the history of the institution, signed copies of the book during the celebration.

During the afternoon, the Centennial Parade began near campus and made its way to downtown Claremore before a large crowd of spectators. The parade featured the university’s new president, Dr. Larry Rice, area marching bands and a variety student floats.

CBS correspondent Jeff Greenfield provided a lecture in the new Centennial Center, focusing on the political landscape in Washington, D.C. The lecture was part of the Carl G. and Gladys L. Herrington Distinguished Endowed Lectureship Series. Greenfield is one of America’s most respected journalists, known for his quick wit and savvy insight into politics.

The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents – the governing board for RSU – held its meeting on the Claremore campus during the celebration, and regents attended many of the events.

The premiere of the documentary film about the history of the university, titled “Rogers State University: The First 100 Years,” was held a few days later. The film was produced by RSU Public Television, and will air statewide throughout the year.

An exhibition about the history of RSU is presently on display at its Bartlesville campus.

RSU was founded in 1909 – just two years after Oklahoma was granted statehood. The institution was officially established as Eastern University Preparatory School by the Oklahoma Legislature in its second session. However, the school closed less than a decade later.

In 1919, the institution was resurrected as the Oklahoma Military Academy, which quickly gained recognition as one of the top military schools in the U.S., and was often referred to as the “West Point of the Southwest.”

The OMA has an extensive register of 10,000 graduates who became great leaders, both in military and civilian life. More than 2,500 OMA graduates served in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. More than 100 graduates gave their lives in service to their country.

In 1971, the Oklahoma Legislature replaced the military academy with the new Claremore Junior College. CJC quickly grew to an enrollment of 3,000 students in 1982, when it was renamed Rogers State College, after the family of Will Rogers.

As Rogers State College, the institution prospered, adding a variety of academic programs and Oklahoma’s only full-power public television station on a college campus. The institution became a national pioneer in distance education, offering the state’s first online degrees.

Since RSU was accredited as a four-year university in 2000, enrollment has increased by nearly 70 percent.

Today, RSU serves more than 3,800 students and is widely recognized for its high-quality academic programs, distance learning options, and high-technology learning environment. The university enjoys status as the only public four-year, residential university in the Tulsa metropolitan area.