Rogers State University will begin a year-long celebration of its 100th anniversary with a Centennial Kick-Off and Clock Dedication Ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 4, featuring a presentation by Dr. Bob L. Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, and the dedication of the new Oklahoma Centennial Clock.
Blackburn will provide a free public presentation titled “Oklahoma and the Struggle for a Sense of Community” at 10 a.m. in the historic Will Rogers Auditorium on the Claremore campus.
His presentation will be followed by the unveiling and dedication of the Oklahoma Centennial Clock at 11:30 a.m. on the plaza near the new Student Center. The dedication ceremony will feature remarks by area dignitaries, RSU students and RSU President Dr. Larry Rice.
“We will officially kick off a year of Centennial festivities with a look back at our history and the unveiling of the beautiful new Oklahoma Centennial Clock on our campus,” said Rice.
The Centennial Clock is an official project of the Oklahoma Centennial Commemoration and was funded in part through a grant made possible by the Oklahoma Legislature. A cooperative partnership with the City of Claremore, the project was spearheaded by the students of RSU’s President’s Leadership Class. Contributors to the clock include RSU President’s Leadership Class, R&R Machine Works, Inc., RSU Foundation, Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, College Democrats, College Republicans and the RSU Student Government Association.
The Centennial Kick-Off and Clock Dedication Ceremony also will feature period costumes from 1909, when the institution was founded, and the return of alumni and faculty from various eras of the institution. The RSU Jazz Band and cheerleaders will perform and refreshments will be served under the complimentary hospitality tent. All events are free and open to the public.
RSU was founded as Eastern University Preparatory School in 1909. The school closed in 1917 but reopened in 1919 as the Oklahoma Military Academy, one of the nation’s most prestigious military institutions. More than 2,500 OMA graduates served in the armed forces during various conflicts and more than 100 graduates gave their lives in service to their country.
The OMA operated until 1971 when it became Claremore Junior College. The junior college was later renamed Rogers State College, gaining a reputation of academic quality among two-year institutions. In 1998, the Oklahoma Legislature renamed the institution Rogers State University, assigning it a new mission to gain accreditation at the baccalaureate level. In 2000, RSU became a four-year university, offering bachelor’s and associate degrees. Today, RSU has nearly 4,000 students on campuses in Claremore, Bartlesville and Pryor.
Blackburn, a native Oklahoman, has served as executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society since 1999. He joined the historical society in 1980 as editor of The Chronicles of Oklahoma and became deputy director for agency operations in 1990. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Oklahoma State University.
He published several articles and his first book while still in graduate school, and has since written or co-authored 16 books and numerous articles, journal entries, and screenplays. He is a steady source of historical information to the media, and he has appeared numerous times on the History Channel.
He was instrumental in planning and building the Oklahoma History Center, a 215,000 square foot museum and research center with a budget of $61 million.
He has served on numerous national and regional boards and committees, including the Western History Association, the Oklahoma Association of Professional Historians, the American Institute of Architects and Leadership Oklahoma City.
For more information on the RSU Centennial Kick-Off and Clock Dedication Ceremony, call (918) 343-7773.