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OU Receives Major Gift From McCasland Foundation to Enhance Oklahoma’s Engineering Workforce Needs

“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.