Q&A - July 26, 2015

At OSU Institute of Technology, we have always believed that institutions of higher education do not distinguish themselves by their similarities, but by their differences, and we have always prided ourselves on being unique.

It is almost unprecedented for a public university to purchase historic buildings away from its campus with the intent to convert them into student housing. When we interviewed architectural firms, it was quite revealing to hear many of them say that they had worked on several student housing projects and on several town center restorations, but they had never heard of a project in Oklahoma that involved both. Most of them cited the unique nature of this project and its potential to make a real difference in Okmulgee as a primary reason for their interest.

I am reminded that there is really no such thing as a “bad” question, but allow me to address two “nagging” questions that many of you may be too considerate to ask.

Q: Why is it taking OSUIT so long to start work on your buildings downtown?

I realize this is a big question on everyone’s mind, and I beg your continued patience. At OSUIT, we may be slow, but we are also meticulous. Please don’t interpret any lack of visual evidence as a lack of progress. Even though this particular project is not using tax dollars, OSUIT is still a public entity and accountable to lawmakers, accrediting boards, and the general public for all of our operations and dealings—there are no “short cuts” when you are a public entity. When OSUIT takes action on something as large as a construction or renovation project, it is not just about doing the project fast, it is about doing the project correctly. To help insure that everything is done properly the first time, there are numerous approval and accountability measures in each step of the process. This project is moving along normally from our perspective.

No, I cannot predict the exact date when we will occupy the Old Post Office Complex or the Bell Building, but believe me when I tell you that when these buildings are complete, they will be done right, and we will all be very proud of them.

Q: I am an OU fan and don’t care for the OSU flags and banners downtown.

While the invitation is always extended to anyone who might want to convert to Orange and Black, we are not asking anyone to change their team affiliation or swap who they cheer for during the Bedlam game. I hope we all recognize that revitalizing downtown Okmulgee has nothing to do with team pride but has everything to do with community pride. Oklahoma State University has been an invested part of this community since 1946. At OSUIT, we are proud of Okmulgee, and we would hope that Okmulgee is proud of us too.

I had some fun with the good-natured comments and questions this week, and I appreciate your interest in what OSUIT is doing in the community. Even if you are an OU fan, please feel free to send additional questions or insights to osuit-president@okstate.edu.