Case For Support

I need your advice
Imagine with me

Your son, daughter, grandchild, nephew, niece, a neighbor’s child, or a teenage friend comes to you and asks for your advice.  “I want to go to college but I don’t know what my choices are.”  

So you ask, “Well, tell me what you’re looking for in a college.”

“I enjoy my advanced classes in high school so I want a college where you’re expected to work hard.  I want to be challenged. You know, pushed a bit.  Oh, and I’d like to live on a small campus with other students who are also serious about their studies and I want professors I can talk to.”

“Wow,” you think. “This sounds like an expensive, out-of-state, private college.”

“Yeah, I almost forgot,” they add quickly.  “I don’t want to leave Oklahoma and I don’t want to go into debt.”

So, what do you tell them?  “Sorry, I don’t think there’s a college like that in Oklahoma.”

But shouldn’t there be?  Shouldn’t bright and talented Oklahoma students have a place to go where they’ll be challenged by academic rigor while getting personal attention and finishing college without a huge debt?  


What would such a place look like?

It would be a small school.  Say, with 1000 to 1500 students, where full professors teach freshmen classes.

Admission standards would be high, probably the highest in the state, public or private.

It would have excellent housing and a campus environment where learning happens in and outside the classroom.

It would offer students who enjoy sports a chance to compete and grow.  And it would be a place where athletics are kept in perspective, where everyone understands that a student athlete is first and foremost a student.

At this kind of school, every student, not just fine arts majors, would be encouraged to participate in art, music and drama productions.

The entire academic program would be built around a curriculum made up of courses that have proven through the ages to prepare people for life.  It would cover the sciences and the arts and students would learn how ideas are connected and interrelated.

And, because this kind of school would be supported by all Oklahoma citizens, it would be an option for anyone who could qualify, not just those who can pay.


It would look just like USAO

The University of Science and Arts has been Oklahoma’s public liberal arts college for more than a century.  We’ve changed our name but never our mission.  We’ve been in the business for a long time and have gotten good at it.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.

“I’m from a small school. And I picked a small college because I really like everything you can be involved in at this university.  I ran for president of SA and Ambassadors, and won! You can really build bonds and relationships with people. You know them and they know you.”

– Dexter Nelson II, Bridge Creek, history

“Whenever people ask why I chose a liberal arts college, I tell them that at USAO, I am learning to be a well-rounded individual who is able to adapt and handle whatever situations the world throws at me.”

– Jacob Hollenbeck, Ardmore, biology

“I’m from Rhode Island. I considered Brown and other universities in the Northeast, but even figuring out-of-state tuition, USAO was the smart choice – high national reputation at the price of a state school. It wasn’t a hard decision.”

– Molly Tracy, Rhode Island, political science

Even those who make it their business to keep a critical eye on higher education say good things about us:

US News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges ranks USAO as Oklahoma’s only “National Liberal Arts College,” an exclusive designation that includes some of the most prestigious and expensive schools in the nation. Further, USAO is named among the top 92 schools in America that graduate students with the “Least Debt.”     

Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine applauds USAO as one of its 100 “Best Values in Public Colleges” in America for 2012.  In a news release, Kiplinger championed USAO as a “steal” for bringing high academic standards to affordable education.

A February 2012 Washington Post op-ed cites USAO as the “Best Value” in the United States for its “exemplary” education at a cost students can afford.

Despite record-setting unemployment for America’s college graduates, USAO graduates consistently defy that trend.  One year and five years after graduation, USAO graduates secure employment at a rate that’s among the highest of any public school in Oklahoma according to the statistics released by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission.

This year USAO was one of only 19 schools in the nation awarded an “A” grade by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), ranking in the 98th percentile in a list of more than 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide.  Based in Washington D.C., ACTA annually evaluates the content and quality of the required core curriculum in higher education, grading on a scale of A to F. 

On its website, ACTA commends not only USAO’s distinctive quality but its “eminently affordable” price.

This combination of rigor and affordability is why Oklahoma Secretary of Education, Phyllis Hudecki called USAO “a fine example” of the effort to return students to a study of “math, science, literature, history and other core academic subjects.”




"So, the school you may have only imagined is already here and already has a proven track record."








Now imagine with me again

A certain college president comes to you and asks for your advice.

“We’ve taken a long, hard look at the future of our school,” he tells you, “and we know what we need to do next.  We haven’t come to you for your advice without doing our homework.  

Here’s what we know for sure.  Bright students need a quality education that comes with a price tag they can afford.  They need science labs, classrooms, and library facilities that are modern and geared to the way they learn.  They need a great place to live, to learn and to grow without having to mortgage their future.” 

“We also know,” he admits, “we can’t do what needs to be done with state funds alone.  In fact, we can’t do it without support from people like you.  What we don’t know, and what we must know if we are to plan well, is how much private support we can attract.” 


You ask, “Why do folks
support your college now?”


“I’m glad you asked,” he says.   “For some it’s a matter of tradition.  They’ve been touched by this school.  They’re connected.  They attended here or a member of their family, or someone they know.”

“For others,” he adds quickly, “it’s more about having choices—real choices.  They feel strongly that Oklahoma students deserve a college like USAO.  For many it’s a source of pride since not every state has a school like this, especially one that attracts major national attention to its academic quality.”

“I understand,” you say.  “What do you have in mind?

We propose a campaign to raise $8,750,000 to accomplish four goals.

1.We want students who thrive in a rigorous academic environment to get the helping hand they need, so we plan to increase current scholarships and add to the existing scholarship endowment.

2.We want to eliminate the conflict between the academic schedule and the practice schedule by adding lights and indoor practice facilities to the Bill Smith Ballpark.

3.We believe a college town is a special place and provides the best environment for teaching and learning, so we plan to partner with civic and business leaders to establish an innovative center for economic and community development—a place where community and college resources come together to solve problems for the common good.

4.Everything we do centers around teaching and learning, so we plan to update the science hall, the historic physical education building, and the library, and to develop a comprehensive campus master plan to ensure that future growth remains true to our academic mission.

“And here’s where we need your advice.  Do you think we can attract private gifts to accomplish these goals?

Current Student Scholarships                               $1,500,000

Future Student Scholarships (endowments)     $1,000,000

Austin Hall Science Labs                                        $   900,000

Nash Library                                                             $    750,000

Physical Education Building                                  $1,500,000

Community & Regional Innovation Center        $1,500,000

Bill Smith Ballpark                                                   $1,100,000

Comprehensive Campus Master Plan                  $   500,000



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