Thanks to a $100,000 anonymous donation to the OU Foundation for the benefit of the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Esports and Co-Curricular Innovation, the department will soon offer scholarships to students who demonstrate leadership and enthusiasm for the fast-growing competitive gaming industry.
The department, housed within the Division of Student Affairs, has six distinct pillars that holistically prepare students to gain skill sets in the growing industry. These pillars include: competition, community interaction, leadership development, news coverage, production and streaming entertainment programs.
Scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit across all of its six pillars. The department will offer two additional scholarships to underrepresented groups – one for first-generation college students and one for exemplary women in esports – in an effort to combat inequalities these populations face in the gaming arenas at the collegiate and professional levels.
The scholarships will be known as the Solidus Scholarships – a tribute to Forest Dayne “Solidus” Sharp, who, as a student at OU, fostered early esports and gaming programming at OU and across Oklahoma. After earning his bachelor of arts in anthropology from OU in 2007, Sharp died in 2011 at the age of 28 while finishing his thesis for his master’s degree in the history of science, which was posthumously awarded to him in 2012.
The OU Esports Club – which boasts a membership of over 1,500 students – was founded in 2017 as a student organization. In September 2020, OU created the Department of Esports and Co-Curricular Innovation under the Division of Students Affairs to provide oversight and sponsor the OU Esports Club.
Mike “Moog” Aguilar, the founding adviser of the OU Esports Club and director of Esports and Co-Curricular Innovation at OU, said he is thrilled to see the advancement of the program.
“Esports at OU has seen remarkable growth in just the span of a few years,” Aguilar said. “These new scholarships are a milestone for our program and are a direct result of our students working to advocate for and strengthen our esports program.”
Jasmine Graves, an OU senior management information systems major, founding member and the current president of the OU Esports Club, noted how the scholarships will benefit students and ultimately, their future careers.
“I’m really excited that all the hard work students have put into making this happen is finally coming to fruition,” Graves said. “I hope that these scholarships and awards open doors for the club to be able to have an impact on more people. I also hope they show more people what esports and gaming has to offer and gets them interested. I think there are so many amazing things to come as the club continues to be supported by the university.”
Aguilar explained that the new scholarships are an exciting development for the future of gaming and esports at OU.
“Esports and gaming developments are expanding rapidly in K-12, as well as in higher education,” he said. “The level of student engagement, industry innovation and strategic intention to create opportunities for students with career field alignment is why OU remains competitive.”
About the University of Oklahoma
Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit www.ou.edu.