The Woodward News

October 9, 2012

Chamber members hear from education leaders

Brandi Thomas
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — The spotlight of the October chamber luncheon focused on the 3 levels of education in Woodward, recognizing Woodward Public Schools, High Plains Technology Center and NWOSU-Woodward.

The luncheon, which was held at the Pioneer Room in Woodward on Monday afternoon, featured some of the top higher education leaders from western Oklahoma.


Dr. Cunningham noted that enrollment was up by 1.1 percent this fall with 2,299 students attending classes in Alva, Enid and Woodward. That number includes 425 new freshmen.

She also pointed out Northwestern's business program has achieved national accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, one of only 18 colleges and universities around the world to achieve initial accreditation from the group.

In addition, Cunningham said the school's nursing students continue to excel.

"The graduates of our nursing program have been at 100 percent on their licensing exams over the last 3 years," she said.

Cunningham said over the past few years about 10 percent of the freshmen enrolled have been valedictorians of their high schools.

"We are attracting many of the brightest students from across the state," she said.

One of NWOSU's biggest moves over the past year has been earning provisional status with NCAA Division II and being accepted in the Great American Conference, which includes schools in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

"This will allow us to renew rivalries with our sister schools," which includes Southwestern, Southeastern and East Central state universities, she said.  

Cunningham reminded everyone it is homecoming week at Northwestern and events include the Miss Cinderella contest on Friday night and the parade on Saturday.

"We will be wrapping up our homecoming festivities on Saturday with our game against Southeastern Oklahoma State University," she said.


Mitchel, a regent with the Regional University Systems of Oklahoma, said rural universities in Oklahoma allow more students to get a quality education.

"Rural universities were created for people like me, to make education available to those in rural areas of the state," Mitchel, who also praised the local and state career tech programs, said.

He said that he has been asked by students at the smaller schools, what if I want to go to law or medical school?

"Getting into law or medical school is easier because you are not competing against 5,000 other students at the same school to get in, you only have to worry about 4 or 5 others," Mitchel said.


Harrel, one of 9 members that make up the state board of regents, said it was a privilege for him to speak in Woodward on Monday.

"The people of Woodward seem to get it, they always seem to come together for everything and always serve their state and their community," Harrel said.

Harrel said  he has served on many boards across the state, but he is most passionate about education and agriculture, especially in Northwest Oklahoma.


All of the educators in attendance were introduced in groups by Deena Fisher of NWOSU, Jeri Gadberry with High Plains Technology Center and Tim Merchant, superintendent of Woodward Public Schools.

Several area schools were also represented.

Also recognized were Julia Benbrook, the student citizen of the year; Woodward Teacher of the Year Lee Ann Stone, also a state finalist, and recently named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Elaine Hutchison, a math teacher at Fairview.