Rogers State University has announced it will acquire the historic nine-story Reda Building to serve as a new location for its campus in Bartlesville.
The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, the governing board for RSU, approved the acquisition at its meeting on Monday, Dec. 6, in Norman.
The building was built in 1919 and is located at Fourth Street and Dewey Avenue in downtown Bartlesville. The university plans to begin offering classes in the new location in the fall of 2005.
“The acquisition of the Reda Building is the first step in the establishment of a full-service, public, four-year university campus in Bartlesville,” said RSU President Dr. Joe Wiley. “This is a major expansion of higher education opportunities for Bartlesville area residents and a key component of regional economic development.”
The university will purchase the building from the Schlumberger Co. of Bartlesville at an undisclosed price, pending a final agreement.
A task force of Bartlesville community leaders, RSU faculty members and students has been studying the educational and economic development needs of the Bartlesville area for the past several months. The task force has developed a strategic plan for the RSU campus in Bartlesville, which includes acquiring the 170,000-square-foot building, expanding the number of four-year and two-year degrees available at the campus, improving student services, adding faculty members with doctoral degrees and increasing enrollment at the campus to more than 2,000 students by 2015. Total employment at the new Bartlesville campus is expected to reach 70 faculty and staff members by 2015.
During the next few years, the university anticipates expanding the number of bachelor’s and associate’s degrees offered at the Bartlesville campus in areas such as accounting, business management, education, liberal arts, nursing and social sciences.
“The presence of a public university campus in our community is a major enhancement to our quality of life,” said Bartlesville Mayor Ted Lockin. “The expansion of educational opportunities at RSU is a significant step forward for the citizens and employers of Bartlesville and the surrounding region. The new RSU campus will serve as a catalyst in the redevelopment of downtown Bartlesville.”
RSU presently leases space in two small facilities on East Adams Road in Bartlesville, where it has operated a branch campus since 1984. Approximately 400 students are enrolled at the campus.
“RSU’s ability to expand higher education services in Bartlesville has been restricted by the limited space available in the small leased facilities,” Wiley said. “Relocating to the Reda Building will provide us with ample physical space to operate a full-service university campus.”
RSU plans to renovate approximately half of the building for use as classroom, laboratory and office space, and will continue to lease other available space to existing and prospective tenants.
Acquiring the building, completing necessary renovations for classrooms, laboratories and offices, and establishing academic programs will cost approximately $9 million over the next five years, the university has determined. Funding will be obtained from a combination of private and public sources, including contributions from corporations, foundations and individuals, and community funding sources in Bartlesville. The university expects to announce a major fundraising campaign in Bartlesville next year to help support expansion of the campus and the development of academic programs.
The total operating budget for the RSU Bartlesville campus is $964,000 this year and is projected to reach $8.9 million annually by 2015.
A demographic study completed by RSU last year revealed a need for more higher education programs in the Bartlesville region, including Washington, Nowata and Osage counties. The study also indicated the presence of a large number of students eligible to transfer to the RSU campus in Bartlesville from several counties in southern Kansas.
“The Bartlesville area is one the largest regions of the state without a full-service public university branch campus,” said Kelly Diven, CEO of the 66 Federal Credit Union and member of the RSU Bartlesville Task Force. “The new campus will be a major contributor to the economic success of the region.”
The expansion of academic programs at the RSU campus in Bartlesville is part of Brain Gain 2010, an initiative by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to increase the percentage of Oklahoma residents who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher to 28 percent by 2010.
Currently, 20 percent of state residents have a bachelor’s degree, compared to the national average of 24 percent. The percentages are significantly lower in the area served by the RSU Bartlesville campus, including nine percent in Nowata County and 14 percent in Osage County.
“We are very pleased that RSU has chosen to expand the educational opportunities in Bartlesville,” said Evan Zorn, President of the Bartlesville Development Corporation. “The full-service campus location in the Reda Building will really help the downtown development effort. We are looking forward to the increased activity as a great step ahead toward revitalizing and bringing focus to the central business district.”
The historic building was constructed by the Bartlesville Masonic organization, which occupied the ninth floor of the building until 2000. The building originally served as headquarters for the Cities Service Oil Co. and later was the home of the Reda Pump Co. Schlumberger, a worldwide oilfield services company that has major operations in Bartlesville, is the most recent owner of the Reda Building.
The ornate façade of the building is constructed of cut stone and brick. The interior of the first-floor lobby is adorned with high-quality materials including marble and original light fixtures.
In 1955, a seven-story annex was erected adjacent to the south side of the building. Extensive renovations to the original building and the annex facility have been completed during the last several years.
A recent engineering study concluded that the building is in excellent condition and is mostly compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, although some renovations may be needed to bring the building into full compliance with federal requirements.
The study included full evaluations of all structural, mechanical, electrical and environmental aspects of the building. The study found the roof, windows and elevators to be in excellent condition.
RSU has been the fastest-growing university in Oklahoma since it was accredited as a four-year institution in 2000. The main RSU campus is located in Claremore and the university also operates a branch campus in Pryor. Total enrollment at all three campuses, including the RSU Online program, is more than 3,700 students.
For more information about the RSU Bartlesville campus, call (918) 335-3500.