FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Public Affairs, (405) 325-1701
NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, which reopened for classes this fall in its newly renovated building, will be dedicated in a public ceremony Monday, Dec. 6.
The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. at Collings Hall, 820 Van Vleet Oval, on the OU Norman campus. Speakers will be OU President David L. Boren; Dean of Education Joan K. Smith; OU College of Education Outstanding Senior Skyler Mulder; and two OU alumni whose families have enjoyed a long association with OU and the College of Education: H. E. Gene Rainbolt of Oklahoma City and Sandra O’Brien of Houston. Much of the private funding for the building’s addition and renovation project came from the Rainbolt and O’Brien families.
The capital campaign to expand the facility, which was built in 1953, was launched in 2006. The H.E. “Gene” Rainbolt family of Oklahoma City made an exceptional gift to OU to honor the life and carry forth the legacy of the late Jeannine Rainbolt, an OU education alumna. In recognition, OU Regents at their October 2008 meeting approved the naming of the college for Jeannine Rainbolt, making the college the first in OU’s history to be named for a woman and forever linking her name with the education and support of future teachers at her alma mater.
Jeannine Rainbolt’s husband, Gene, OU alumni leader and chairman of BancFirst Corp., was joined by son, David, and daughter, Dr. Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes, in making the gift, bringing the family’s support to OU over the years to $8 million.
Their children, both of whom also are OU graduates, are steadfast OU supporters. Dr. Rainbolt-Forbes is a member of the OU Board of Regents, and David Rainbolt is president and chief executive officer of BancFirst Corp.
Their gift provided support for the renovation and expansion of Collings Hall to provide a state-of-the-art facility that supports learning, encourages collaboration and fosters ingenuity.
The $9.5 million project includes an approximately 17,000-square-foot addition to the north and west of the existing facility, which provides additional academic and instructional space to accommodate the growing needs of the college’s students and faculty. Until the new wing opened this fall, more than 60 percent of the college’s classes were held in other buildings scattered across the Norman campus.
The Rainbolts met in their sixth-grade class at Norman’s McKinley Elementary School and married during their college years in 1950. Jeannine Rainbolt earned her OU degree in 1951, and her husband graduated the following year with a degree in economics and, later, earned his master’s degree in business education.
While he served in the U.S. Army, she served as a schoolteacher at Stand Watie Elementary School in Oklahoma City. Even after leaving the full-time profession of teaching to raise their two children, she remained a tireless and passionate advocate on behalf of Oklahoma education, children and teachers.
In 2003, Jeannine Rainbolt was recognized with the Meritorious Service Award, one of the highest honors presented by the OU College of Education. The award, which she shared with her husband, recognized the Rainbolts’ many decades of service to and for Oklahoma schools.
The Rainbolts’ generosity to OU touches almost every area of the university and includes endowing faculty chairs in cancer, child psychiatry and finance, as well as the Jeannine T. Rainbolt Women’s Basketball Scholarship.
In 2008, Gene Rainbolt established the Jeanine T. Rainbolt Scholarship for Elementary School Teachers in honor of his wife of 57 years, who died in September 2007. Hundreds of friends and family members made memorial gifts to the scholarship endowment, bringing it to more than $1 million. Additionally, Jeannine Rainbolt was active in the OU Alumni Association and was an Endowed President’s Associate.
In addition to classrooms, other facilities located in the new wing include the Zarrow Families’ Professional Services Center, funded by the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation and the Maxine and Jack Zarrow Family Foundation; a math education center; the John W. “Jack” Renner Science Education Center, named in memory of a noted OU science education faculty member; and additional student meeting and commons spaces. State-of-the-art technology is available throughout the building, including the latest in instructional equipment for use in new and existing space. The existing portion of the building was renovated to complement the new addition.
Another added feature to Collings Hall is a courtyard located between the original building and the new wing that will serve as a central location for classes, college and alumni gatherings, meetings and social events, and also be available as a “living classroom,” where professors in program areas such as science education can take classes to conduct ecosystems observations and various outdoor experience.
A focal point of the renovated entrance to Collings Hall is a fully functional bell tower named after university and College of Education supporters and friends Sandra and Brian O’Brien, who provided the lead gift to the building’s capital campaign. Designed as a modern day version of the schoolhouse bell tower, OU’s bell was cast in 1934 by one of the nation’s premier bell manufacturers, Meneely Bell Co. of Troy, N.Y., which closed in 1950. The bronze bell weighs approximately 3,000 lbs. Also as part of the addition and renovation project, the exterior of the existing building was remodeled into a stylized version of OU’s famed “Cherokee Gothic” architecture.
For more information about the ceremony or accommodations on the basis of disability, call the Office of Special Events at (405) 325-3784.