Friday, July 15, 2011
About 300 people heard Gov. Mary Fallin declare the University Center and its new quarters to be a "model for Oklahoma and other states" at the Tuesday grand opening of the educational center.
Glen Johnson, former House Speaker and present Chancellor of Higher Education, spoke before Gov. Fallin.
During opening remarks, Fallin said, "Johnson is the perfect person as the Chancellor of Higher Education to lead our great state during very interesting and challenging times. It is also a time of great growth and opportunity for our citizens and higher education for Oklahoma.
"I appreciate your support for a unique opportunity like this where a community comes together with the private sector and where individuals and legislators do something great. It provides a wonderful future for children in Oklahoma."
Chancellor Johnson spoke about the importance of education and congratulated the community.
Fallin expressed appreciation for the legislators seated on stage.
Sen. David Myers, chairman of appropriations, Rep. Dale DeWitt, Sen. Eddie Fields, who will serve Ponca City beginning in January, Sen. Jim Halligan, former Oklahoma State University President of Stillwater, and Rep. Steve Vaughan. She thanked the legislators for "grabbing hold of the vision of the community." "To the University Center, thank you for your commitment and your sacrifice on behalf of the hard work you do for education on behalf of our citizens."
The governor also expressed appreciation to citizens for supporting a vision that started in 1999 in the ConocoPhillips facility. She expressed appreciation for ConocoPhillips and their continued support for educating students and working adults. She noted that over 100 individuals helped raise the money to refurbish the former United Supermarket building. She also expressed appreciation to the Harper family that donated the building to be used for education.
She mentioned the partnership between Northern Oklahoma College and the University Center.
"This is a model where a community can bring further career opportunities and further education to their citizens. Not only is it a model for higher education, but it's also a great economic benefit to this community. This really sets Ponca City apart as a University Center. It is a great asset for attracting jobs for Ponca City and northern Oklahoma."
Carl Renfro, a former regent for Oklahoma, was master of ceremonies. He gave a history of the University Center and introduced the dignitaries and guests including regents Ike Glass and Jimmy Harrel and former Rep. Steve Luttrell. Also recognized were Stacy Tiger, director of the University Center, Cheryl Evans, president of Northern Oklahoma College, former president Joe Kinzer, Tom Poole, interim president, Dr. Roger Stacy, Dr. Brenda Stacy, former director of the University Center for 11 years, and the NOC staff. Also attending was Dr. Janet Cunningham, president of Northwestern College, one of the distance education provider universities.
Also acknowledged were Dick Stone, chairman of the UC Foundation, members of the foundation, Andy Wachtel, immediate past chairman of the Advisory Board, incoming chairman Chuck Greenwood and members of that group, Pete Stynes, ConocoPhilips, city commissioners and Dr. Steve Tiger, CEO of Pioneer Technology Center.
Jack McCarty gave the opening prayer. He represented the Peel Foundation, one of the 100 donors to raise money for the building.
By LOUISE ABERCROMBIE, Ponca City News