State Investment Gives Big Boost to RSU’S Proposed New STEM Facility

The goal of building a new Center for Science and Technology at Rogers State University took a big step closer to reality June 14 when House Bill 2928 was signed into law, appropriating $10 million of state funds to the project.

A new facility to house RSU’s growing science, technology and engineering programs has been needed to replace the current Loshbaugh Hall. Built in 1955, it is no longer large enough to accommodate enrollment and is plagued with a number of structural and maintenance issues.

After two years of advocacy, the legislature agreed to help fund the project. The process began in the Senate, where Sen. Ally Seifried of Claremore, vice chair of the Senate Education Committee, and a member of the Senate Appropriations Education Subcommittee, worked the entire session to gather support of committee leadership and members through a thorough and public Senate budget process.

“Nothing is easy at the State Capitol, especially when we are talking about dedicating large amounts of money to a certain project,” Sen. Seifried said. “However, in keeping with Oklahoma’s continued efforts to grow opportunities for students in STEM-related fields, I deeply believe in the worthiness of this project. This new science and technology building will help students learn and become fully equipped to meet the workforce demands of the future.

“This session, I spent many hours discussing the merits of the building with my colleagues, explaining its importance to northeast Oklahoma, and especially, our community. I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude to them,” she added. “No project can be successful in the legislature without the support of others. Once completed, this new building will have a positive impact that will be felt throughout the entire state.”

RSU President Dr. Larry Rice described the appropriation as a game changer for the school.

“This is a historic moment for RSU and the future of workforce development in northeast Oklahoma,” Rice said. “The new Center for Science and Technology will help recruit more students into our STEM programs and will help recruit and retain top faculty to teach in those programs.

“The state investment into this facility was made possible through the leadership of Senator Ally Seifried and Representative Mark Lepak,” Rice said. “Senator Seifried in particular demonstrated a lot of political acumen in getting the bill across the finish line.”

Rice also thanked House Speaker Charles McCall, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Chuck Hall, House Appropriations Chairman Kevin Wallace, House Pro Tem and Speaker Designate Kyle Hilbert, and Senate Education Chairman Adam Pugh for their support.

In addition, Rice offered appreciation to Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chancellor Allison Garrett and the members of RSU’s governing board, the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, for supporting the request.

Paired with the $4 million gift made earlier this spring by the Cherokee Nation, $14 million of the $30 million anticipated for construction is in hand. RSU officials plan to ask its Board of Regents for permission to issue bonds to help pay for the facility.

However, Rice said an additional $4 to 5 million in private support is needed to fully fund the project.

“We have a funding plan in place that called for $8 to $9 million of private investment,” Rice said. “The gift from the Cherokee Nation gets us about halfway home. Working through the RSU Foundation, we’re in a race to get to a point where we can move forward with the construction process. We still need help.”

Persons or companies interested in making tax-deductible investments to the project are asked to contact Steve Valencia, vice president for development, at or 918-343-7780.