“This transformative gift will not only enhance the student experience, but it also directly supports OU’s strategy to produce a greater number of engineering graduates,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “At OU, one of our most important duties is to act as an economic engine for our state. One way we’re doing this is ensuring that OU provides a talent pipeline for Oklahoma’s workforce. Oklahoma needs more engineers, and the McCasland Foundation Engineering Pathways Hub will significantly contribute to this effort. We are grateful to the McCasland Foundation, which has been so generous to OU over the years, for making this investment in our students and supporting Oklahoma’s workforce needs.”
The McCasland Foundation gift supports OU’s Engineering Pathways Program, aimed at enhancing student retention and degree completion. The funds will be used to develop a space in Felgar Hall that will focus on recruitment, retention and graduation. The renovation corresponds to the hiring of 10 new teaching-focused faculty members who are enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring students to serve as the inaugural Engineering Pathways faculty. Engineering Pathways faculty will also be located in the new space, along with both informal and private meeting spaces that provide opportunities for faculty-student mentorship.
“The demand for engineers is growing rapidly, and filling that demand is critical to our industrial partners, state and region,” said Gallogly College of Engineering Dean John Klier. “OU’s engineering student enrollment is increasing as well. Students choose engineering because they want to make an impact. The Engineering Pathways Program will provide them with the necessary foundation and tools to succeed and thrive in a rigorous engineering curriculum and in their careers.
“This generous gift from the McCasland Foundation – along with the state of Oklahoma’s recent investment in engineering in support of growing engineering graduates for the state workforce – allows Gallogly College to enhance its leadership position and impact in engineering education,” Klier said.
Gallogly College’s approach to the challenge of meeting the need for engineers is multifaceted and developed on evidence-based practices and research in engineering education. It includes hiring world-class faculty who are experts in engineering education or technical areas of engineering research, aggressively recruiting new students from across the state of Oklahoma and the region, expanding and developing programs to support student success, and providing students with new and improved opportunities to develop their academic knowledge and professional skills.
“The University of Oklahoma has provided our family life-changing opportunities,” said Barbara Braught, executive director of the McCasland Foundation. “We believe in the tremendous impact Oklahoma can have on young people’s lives. We are passionate about supporting OU engineering students, and when Dean Klier shared his vision, we were thrilled to be able to support these strategic initiatives.”
The Engineering Pathways Program employs faculty and staff experts in the areas of outreach, recruitment and retention, and is actively supported by Gallogly College of Engineering students working as Sooner Engineering Education Center Scholars and GCoE recruiters. The new faculty in engineering education will add energy, innovative ideas, teaching excellence and student mentorship and provide essential support for the college’s mission to grow its engineering student body.
In February, the OU Engineering Pathways Program hosted more than 500 Oklahoma high school students from Altus, Duncan, Lawton, Moore, Norman, Oklahoma City and other communities to take part in an open house featuring activities to encourage engineering as a career choice. Students – with help from engineering faculty and OU students – designed a roller coaster, built a small launcher and programmed a robot, among other activities.
“The McCasland Foundation Engineering Pathways Hub is an essential component in meeting Gallogly College’s strategic goal to grow engineering enrollment and degree completion,” said Susan Walden, executive director of the Engineering Pathways Program. “The hub will provide a collaborative environment for Engineering Pathways faculty to develop innovative ways to open the opportunities of engineering for more students.”
The McCasland Foundation has a rich philanthropic history with OU, including previous gifts to update McCasland Field House in 2005. The foundation has given more than $11 million to OU since 1970, including gifts to the Gallogly College of Engineering, Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band, Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, Michael F. Price College of Business and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, among others.
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.
About the University of Oklahoma Foundation
The University of Oklahoma Foundation is an independent not-for-profit corporation that encourages and supports charitable giving for the benefit of the University of Oklahoma. The foundation acts as the principal organization through which those gifts are made and administered for the benefit of the university. The sole reason for its existence is to serve the University of Oklahoma and the generous donors who support the university. To learn more about the University of Oklahoma Foundation, visit www.oufoundation.org.
About the McCasland Foundation
The McCasland Foundation started with $500 in assets and has a perpetual existence. In almost 60 years, the foundation has grown to assets of over $35 million. The foundation grants money almost exclusively in the state of Oklahoma and concentrates its efforts in the Southwest region of the state. The main areas of interest are education, primarily special projects for public schools and universities, including numerous scholarship funds, cultural organizations and community-based organizations. To learn more about the McCasland Foundation, visit www.mackenergy.com/About/giving-back.