Regents Approve Green Energy Lab, Housing and Food Rates

A group of fourth graders from Lincoln Elementary in Chickasha join college students in a special community garden project at USAO, one of several green initiatives at USAO. Also under construction this summer at USAO is a new, faculty-designed alternative energy laboratory to give college students and community visitors a first-hand look at green energies — how they’re made and used.

Regents Approve Green Energy Lab, Housing and Food Rates


A new lab that gives students hands-on experience with alternative energy sources is under construction this summer at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. The USAO Board of Regents approved this faculty-designed project when they met recently on campus to consider a range of issues including campus housing and food contract rates and personnel matters.

The DroverGen Alternative Energy Research Laboratory is under construction just west of Austin Hall. Dr. Darryel Reigh, who presented the proposal to the Regents, has taught chemistry at USAO for 30 years. He is among the faculty who designed the lab, which they hope to build for less than $35,000.

Mostly outdoors, the lab will demonstrate the production of and uses for alternative energy sources including wind, solar heat, solar electricity, bioethanol, biodiesel and biogas, Reigh explained.

“Designed for teaching and learning, DroverGen will give students an excellent opportunity to see and understand alternative energy sources,” Reigh said. “The station will be available to USAO students and faculty from a variety of academic disciplines.”

Students will learn how energy can be produced for a single user or for delivery to a corporate power grid. A fenced area 45-feet-by-60-feet will feature a wind tower, a greenhouse, planting beds and a controlled experiment station. At various stations, students will see how used cooking oil can be converted to biodiesel, how ethanol is produced, or how other “green” energies work.

A strong proponent of energy resourcefulness, USAO in 2002 became the first college in Oklahoma to craft an energy performance contract that paid its own $3.2 million pricetag in about five years. Last year, USAO launched a Farm to School program that brings fresh local produce into campus food services, joining an elite few schools in the pro-green program.

In other business, Regents approved fall 2009 rates for housing and food contracts. Students will pay about 3 percent more for room and board this fall. This decision was necessary to meet contractual agreements with service providers, explained Terry Winn, vice president for administration and student services.

This fall, students in Sparks Hall, a traditional dormitory where most rooms are shared, will pay $1,265 per term, or about $35 more. In Lawson Hall, students in suite-style apartments with private bedrooms and full kitchens, will pay $1,995 or about $55 more per term for a 4-bedroom apartment. Rates are less during the summer terms. Various rates apply for different living options.

Regents also approved new food service rates for fall 2009. Students who purchase the standard 225 block meals per trimester will pay $1,160, which is $35 more. Students can choose from five different plans, all of which reflect a similar 3 percent increase. A “block meal plan” is designed to allow students more flexibility, permitting them to choose which meals to take or skip without penalty.

“Students asked for greater flexibility and we’ve been able to add that with new options this year,” Winn explained. “Students can spread their choices over a whole term, not just a week, and they can share the meal options with guests and friends, which is new.”

Four of the plans include a “declining cash balance,” which allows students to spend those dollars in the campus convenience store, cafeteria or the Terrace Room grill.

“All of our plans remain a solid value among the food services provided by other universities Oklahoma,” Winn said. “We study them all carefully. USAO remains very competitive against both public and private institutions, and we work to maximize value to students in every campus service.”

Campus technology will be upgraded this summer with two major purchases. Regents approved the purchase of 103 computers for labs, faculty offices and staff. Most are Dell computers purchased through a state contract with Dell. Total expenditure is $106,976. As part of USAO’s campuswide computer plan, all machines are replaced in four-year cycles.

Industry Systems of Chickasha will provide a replacement network switch at a cost of $35,716, which is below the state contract price. “The major network core component being replaced was purchased in 2001 and has reached a status known in the industry as ‘end of life,’” explained Lynn Boyce, chief information officer, “which means that it can no longer be repaired or replaced and is no longer covered under a maintenance contract.” The new switch is Extreme Network’s Black Diamond 8806.

Regents approved a list of minor curriculum changes as submitted by faculty. Among the changes, students in early childhood education and political science will be required to keep a minimum grade of “C” in major courses, and more courses will be required for a minor in political science.

In personnel actions, Regents recently approved the appointments of three faculty members and six staffers. Dr. Cylathia Daniel was named assistant professor of deaf education. Formerly from Lubbock, Texas, she earned her degrees from Texas Tech University and has experience in Texas public schools and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Agency.

Dr. Zachary Simpson was named assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies. He will join the faculty this fall, following a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University. He holds a doctorate in religion from Claremont Graduate University and other degrees from Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

Meagan Rodgers joins the faculty as assistant professor in English. She comes to Chickasha from the University of New Hampshire, where she is teaching and completing a doctorate in composition studies. She earned other degrees from the University of Akron and Ohio State University.

Jamie Wilson joins the USAO staff as academic records assistant. She previously worked with the Chickasha Public Schools. She earned her training from Southeastern Louisiana University.

Cathy Dixon joins the USAO staff as a custodian after several years in manufacturing.

When the Regents met in February, they approved the following personnel appointments:

Hadley Jerman joins the USAO media and community relations team as a designer. She earned a master’s degree in art history from the University of Oklahoma, where she also earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in visual communications. She previously served as a curatorial intern at the Buffalo Bill Historial Center in Cody, Wy., and as a designer at the University of Oklahoma.

John King Jr. was named a security officer. He is a graduate of the Utah Law Enforcement Academy. He previously served in security at Dixie State College in St. George, Utah, and as transportation coordinator for a hospital system.

Vanessa McNabb is the administrative assistant to two academic divisions at USAO: arts and humanities, as well as business and social sciences. She recently earned an associate’s degree in business administration / office technology at Oklahoma City Community College.

James Galvan joined the USAO staff as a groundsman, bringing several years of experience in golf course maintenance.