Rogers State University has announced plans to create a Center for Economic and Community Development. The purpose of the center is to promote economic development and address the educational needs of business and industry in northeastern Oklahoma, said Dr. Joe Wiley, RSU president.
The center will offer existing courses plus courses tailored to meet the needs of individual businesses and industries. Courses and training programs will be offered at the business site or on campus. The center will assist other local and regional entities to attract and retain industry. The center also will explore joint efforts with the community to establish a research park, business development center, and a business incubator. In addition, Wiley indicated that RSU would establish an economic and demographic data center to support development and research.
“The establishment of this new center will strengthen the important ties between business and education in this region,” Wiley said. “These ties are crucial to the economic expansion of our state and the educational needs of our citizens, business and industry.”
Dr. Ray Brown, who recommended the establishment of the new center, will direct its operations. Brown will assume his new role as vice president for economic and community development on July 1, 2002.
“I am pleased that Dr. Brown has a desire to provide leadership for the university’s role in the economic development of this region,” Wiley said. “He is uniquely qualified to understand the educational needs of business and industry and the important link between education and economic development.”
“Shortly after I came to RSU on January 1, 1999, I promised Dr. Wiley that I would stay at RSU for two years to lead the transition of the academic unit from a community college to a regional university,” Brown said. “I have already served as academic vice president for three years during which time the university has attained accreditation as a regional university and developed five new baccalaureate programs. By the time I leave the office of academic affairs, I expect several more programs will be approved.”
“Educational institutions should play a vital role in promoting the economic growth and improving the quality of life of their communities and under my direction, RSU intends to fulfill that role,” Brown said. “Our vision for the new center is to establish an organizational structure to promote the economic development of the region and to provide specialized training and education for business and industry.”
Brown has been actively involved in economic development for many years, beginning shortly after completing a Ph.D. in sociology at Brown University with an emphasis in demography. He worked with the Chamber of Commerce in Orange, Texas, to complete an economic and demographic profile that the chamber used for industry recruitment. He also conducted surveys that were used in the organization and marketing of special events.
Brown also was involved with industry training through the Job Training Partnership Act and later with the Workforce Investment Act. Prior to coming to Claremore, he served on the Board of Directors for the Altus/Southwest Oklahoma Economic Development Authority where industries such as Bar S and Luscombe Aircraft were successfully recruited or expanded. Since arriving in Claremore, he has served on the Claremore Industrial Development Authority.
“After serving as a chief academic officer for over 15 years, I am eager to pursue these new challenges,” he said. “I am excited about the opportunity to work even more directly in support of economic development for the community.”
Brown will continue to supervise several areas including the rapidly growing distance education program, the development of the Bartlesville and Pryor campuses and continuing education.
In addition, he will continue to supervise the university’s federal programs including Upward Bound, Education Talent Search, Student Support Services and the Education Opportunity Center.