Rogers State University faculty member Curtis Sparling will serve as the O.D. Mayor Endowed Professor for RSU’s Pryor campus where he will focus on enhancing educational partnerships with area business/industry and Mayes County schools. He will office at the Pryor campus starting Aug. 1, teaching credit and non-credit classes there starting this fall.
A 22-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, Sparling joined the RSU faculty in 2012 to teach business and applied technology classes. He quickly became an integral part of the campus community and took a leadership role in this spring’s revamped AeroGamesNXT competition, a middle and high school competition sponsored by Google that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). He said the experience working with local schools for the AeroGamesNXT competition provided an excellent transition to developing STEM-focused partnerships with Mayes County schools.
“I am excited about the opportunities available at the Pryor campus, including further developing our partnerships with Mayes County schools for concurrent students and helping local high school graduates transition to a four-year university like RSU,” he said.
The Oliver Dewey Mayor Foundation established the chair in 2002 to help bring highly qualified faculty to the Pryor campus. The foundation honors the legacy of O.D. “Jock” Mayor, a rancher, businessman, entrepreneur and lifelong Mayes County resident. The foundation works exclusively with public, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes granting awards to institutions, organizations and agencies located within Mayes County, Oklahoma, and Grayson County, Texas.
As the O.D. Mayor Endowed Chair, Sparling also will work with local business and industry, including those at the MidAmerica Industrial Park where the RSU Pryor campus is located. He said he has already developed programs or classes that can support regional workforce development efforts, as well as non-credit classes that sharpen business skills for individuals.
Sparling was a driving force behind RSU’s new Cybersecurity and Information Assurance degree program for which the university is seeking final accreditation. The program is designed to meet the stringent requirements for the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Defense to protect computer networks.
Sparling earned his Master of Business Administration from Liberty University, his master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College, and a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from the State University of New York. Sparling holds certifications for secondary education in business education, economics, government, social studies, U.S. history and Oklahoma history. He also is a certified counselor (journeyman’s license) through the U.S. Department of Labor. Originally from California, Sparling graduated from Oologah High School in 1989.
He retired from the U.S. Navy in 2012 after a 22-year military career that culminated in serving as the Commanding Officer for the USS SENTRY, a mine-countermeasures ship based out of Bahrain. He previously served as the executive officer for the USS GLADIATOR, also a mine-countermeasures ship, and chief operations officer/chief information officer for the USS FORT McHENRY, a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship.
Throughout his military career, Sparling was an advocate for using education to create advancement opportunities for his crew, both within the Navy and during life after military service. Under his command, he made it a point of emphasis to provide quarterly educational training sessions for Navy crew members and Marines.
“I have seen firsthand the importance that higher education can have, and I’m a strong advocate for seizing the advantage that taking classes or earning a college degree can create for individuals,” he said. “Traveling around the world really opened my eyes to the importance of having an educated citizenry.”
RSU Pryor Campus Director Sherry Alexander said Sparling will be an excellent addition to campus and she looks forward to Mayes County residents and local business leaders getting to know him in the coming months.
With its small class sizes and personal attention from faculty and staff, the RSU Pryor campus meets the needs of traditional university students, returning adult learners wanting to earn a degree or advance their careers, and high school students who can earn college credit through the university’s concurrent enrollment programs.
RSU is now enrolling for the fall semester. For more information, call 918-825-6117 or visit www.rsu.edu/pryor.