USAO celebrates more than a century of success in the Chickasha area

A recent headshot of President John Feaver in a blue suit, light blue shirt, and striped blue and yellow tie.
Oklahoma’s only public liberal arts university has thrived due to community engagement

As I reflect on the time I have spent serving the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, I am struck by how critical the collaborative efforts between the school and the community in which it resides has been to this institution’s success.

Since its inception 115 years ago, USAO has been charged with a statewide mission, first as a college exclusively for women, and, since 1965, coeducationally designed to serve academically and artistically gifted students. Its statewide responsibilities remain a key feature that sets this public institution apart from most others in Oklahoma.

Irrespective of our statewide mission as an institution of higher learning, USAO’ relationship with Chickasha and its people is an important contributor to our most recent successes. A significant employer in the area, we have always had a keen eye on recruiting the most competent people to work and teach here, and the city’s recent growth has made it considerably easier for us to attract the students, staff and faculty who thrive at this institution. Over the years, we have made considerable strides in strengthening our partnerships to include valuable internships for our students. These opportunities ensure that our graduates leave USAO ready to take on whatever challenges they may face in the ever-changing landscape of contemporary society.

We have also worked hand in hand with local government and business leaders to revitalize Chickasha’s historic downtown, opening Art Wrecker Studio as a professional gallery and event space for both our students and the wider community, and we have simply been amazed at the high level of support the project has received. The creativity on display at Art Wrecker is helping to shape the vibrancy of downtown Chickasha, and the enthusiasm we have seen makes it clear that this energy will only continue to grow. To wit, the college is also involved in efforts to rehabilitate select downtown buildings for residential use and space for our art gallery and museum.

The growth and success of Drover Athletics in recent years has not only reinforced our students’ academic achievements and the opportunities open to them, but it also serves as a powerful factor in USAO’ notoriety across the state. Our scholar-athletes embody the university’s multifaceted mission, which seeks to train both body and mind to allow students to create meaningful, purposeful and productive lives contributing to Oklahoma. The Drovers athletic prowess is also an important force in diversifying both the students we attract, as well as the audiences who attend events here. Significant renovations to our training facilities have made this campus a hub for major sporting events, including NAIA tournaments. And the extremely vocal support from you, our community, has been a prime mover in the success of every Drover team we can field. Local businesses of every stripe have pitched in as sponsors, and the sheer enthusiasm of Chickasha crowds helps spur the fighting spirit they need to win.

I am extremely proud that we can give back to our community that has given so much to us. For many years, our students, faculty and staff have come together to volunteer locally during Drover Difference Day. However, you will not see their service only one day out of the year: we have student organizations and athletic teams giving of their time and talents throughout the year. Our faculty and staff represent this institution equally well through service on boards, in community organizations and whatever other capacities they can because they know that if one of us succeeds, we all succeed.

The last decade has produced a fundamental confidence in USAO that will guarantee the college’s ability to fulfill its mission for a long time to come. We have proven that people want to study and work here, largely because of the community that supports us, and there is an energy here—both internally and throughout Chickasha—that simply cannot be avoided. And for that, I am truly grateful to this city, our home. I have every confidence that the university’s next president, Dr. Kayla Hale, will be welcomed with open arms.

Thank you,

President John H. Feaver