Q&A - July 8, 2016

Downtown student housing…I know it seems like it is taking forever, but frankly, I’ve always believed that something worth doing is worth doing right. OSUIT is working with a highly-skilled team of experienced architects, engineers, and builders on the renovation of historic buildings in downtown Okmulgee, and believe me when I tell you, “these professionals are going to do it right.” Plans are still on track to occupy the Old Post Office by the fall of 2017 and to have the Bell Building operational sometime thereafter.

Q: Will OSUIT be doing anything else downtown other than housing?

Yes, apart from providing housing for students downtown, students need things to do downtown. Within the next couple of years, we should start seeing large numbers of OSUIT students living in downtown Okmulgee in university-owned buildings and in other buildings owned privately. Through all of this renovation, it is our desire to foster a downtown environment that will be appealing to young professionals and college students alike.

The Old Post Office Complex on 5th and Grand, which some are starting to call the Grand Old Post Office (GOPO), should accommodate close to 75 students in loft apartments, but the building will also house several public common areas for lounging, studying, cooking, etc. It is our expectation that small groups of students will be able to gather together and just “hang out.” Some of the spaces will be indoors and some will spill out onto terrace seating areas. Some public spaces will be set up for television watching, computer gaming, ping pong or pool tables, or for other recreational use. We want all of our housing facilities to offer amenities that will help our students feel like they are part of a larger community of learners.

In the Bell Building, on the corner of 6th and Grand, we are planning something completely different. Students frequently tell us, “There is nothing to do in Okmulgee.” So, OSUIT would like to convert the Bell Building into a space with “things to do in Okmulgee.” Think about it as a mini Student Union, with stores, snacks, and activities to accommodate the needs and interests of young people, with special events for students scheduled in the evenings and on weekends. Such a facility will attract students who are living downtown as well as students who are living on campus and will hopefully drive business to other privately owned shops and restaurants in downtown Okmulgee.

Q: Will OSUIT be bringing any classes downtown?

No, we are not planning any classes in downtown Okmulgee because OSUIT already has a wonderful full-service campus on the east side of town, and we have no need for a second campus in Okmulgee. I therefore have no reason to split instructional resources between the OSUIT campus and downtown Okmulgee. Our intentions in the downtown area are solely for the housing and leisure activities of our students.

Thank you for two great questions this week. As we get closer to occupying building in downtown Okmulgee, I am sure there will be several more questions. Please forward them to me at osuit-president@okstate.edu.