Earning a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Rogers State University presents academic challenges to most students in the program, but until recently, the learning environment in the program’s largest classroom did not help matters.
Not equipped for today’s technology, students used a series of electrical extension cords to charge laptop computers. Fixed desks and seating made were uncomfortable and made group learning challenging. A pull-down white screen and projector also limited the teaching options for professors.
Budget cuts combined with numerous infrastructure needs limited the University’s options for improving the classroom, but private gifts to the Rogers State University Foundation from donors funded $135,000 in recent improvements.
RSU dedicated the new classroom as the Podpechan Family Auditorium in a public ceremony at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 30 in the Health Sciences Building. The naming of the classroom reflects the major financial support of the project from the Frank and Joe Podpechan families.
The Cherokee Nation also contributed significant funds to the project.
“Dr. (Carla) Lynch, the chair of the Department of Health Sciences, had done her homework and had a renovation plan in place,” Steve Valencia, vice president for development, said. “Our nursing program has a brand identity of excellence, which inspired many donors to invest in the project. We are so grateful for the Podpechan family and others for their generosity and belief in our mission.”
Lynch said the project has been a game changer for both students and faculty.
“The difference the renovation has made cannot be overstated,” Lynch said. “It has provided a clean, comfortable, modern classroom for both students and faculty. Previously, the room and its equipment were over 25 years old and much of the technology was out of date.
“Students began using laptop computers for notetaking and class participation about five years ago which had necessitated the use of extension cords to charge laptops. We had orange cords everywhere and they were unsightly and trip hazards. The new custom podium has integrated microphones and cameras. This allows crystal clear sound and graphics throughout the room. Students have expressed how much better they can see and hear.”
Lynch added the room’s technology recently prevented a disruption of classes.
“One of our faculty was stricken with COVID late in the summer and following a short hospitalization needed to use oxygen therapy at home and work,” Lynch said. “The new classroom allowed her to use the headset microphone and deliver her nursing expertise to the students while wearing her oxygen. The instructor said she never would have been able to project her voice sufficiently and continue teaching without the new room and the amenities it offers.”
Valencia said the University’s fundraising efforts is expanding beyond scholarship support to include capital projects that can impact learning.
“The reality is students and parents equate facilities with academic quality,” he said. “It is important that our academic spaces reflect the outstanding teaching and learning opportunities at RSU.”
Persons interested in helping with other capital projects can contact Valencia at 918-334-7780 or at [email protected]