OC Launches Higher Learning Campaign


Oklahoma Christian University officials announced a $60 million comprehensive fundraising campaign.

“Higher Learning~Higher Calling - The Campaign for Oklahoma Christian University” will raise funds for specific scholarship, capital, restricted and endowment needs. The seven-year campaign is OC’s first comprehensive fundraising initiative since the “With Wings as Eagles” campaign launched in 1984.

“Friends who support the university through this campaign will help further OC’s mission to transform lives for Christian faith, leadership and service. Funding scholarships will give more students access to Christian higher education. Funding capital projects and academic programs will augment our faculty’s expertise and enhance our students’ collegiate experience. Growing the university’s endowment will solidify its future,” OC president Mike O’Neal said. “The vision embraced by the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and administration is for Oklahoma Christian to become the premier Christian university in this region of the country, and this Higher Learning~Higher Calling campaign is designed to propel the university toward that vision.”

Oklahoma Christian already has raised $30.7 million in gifts and pledges during the quiet phase of the campaign, which began in January 2004.

Several campaign gifts of $1 million or more have been announced previously. Last February, Oklahoma Christian received the final $15 million installment of a multi-year pledge from alumni H. Richard and Pat Lawson. In September, alumni Charles and Lesa Branch pledged $1.5 million toward endowment and to support the newly-named Williams-Branch Center for Biblical Studies. Last month, Board of Trustees chair Don Millican and his wife Donna pledged $1 million to establish the J.J. Millican Endowed Chair in Accounting.

“Oklahoma Christian University is unique in higher education today. It truly educates both the mind and spirit of the students,” said Richard Lawson, who will serve with his wife Pat as national co-chairs of the campaign. “OC’s impact in Oklahoma City and beyond is significant and far-reaching, and we are proud to be a part of this important campaign.”

Other major gifts to the campaign include $2 million annually from the charitable lead trust established by the late Edward L. Gaylord, chairman and publisher of The Oklahoma Publishing Company. Also within the past year, Chesapeake Energy Corporation and OG&E each established scholarship funds at Oklahoma Christian, while a Kirkpatrick Foundation grant will support a national lecture series. Oklahoma Christian also recently announced endowments to establish the Harold and Mary Helon Fletcher Center for Music and the Bailey and Joyce McBride Center for Faith and Literature.

“The rising costs of higher education are well documented. This is particularly the case for private institutions, which do not benefit from state funding,” OC vice president for advancement John deSteiguer said. “Raising permanent endowment is of primary importance in this campaign. It is critical to OC’s continued strength and success because it provides future consistent funding of student scholarships and high quality academic offerings.”

Oklahoma Christian has identified several significant capital initiatives as part of the Higher Learning~Higher Calling campaign. Among the most important academic bricks and mortar projects is a state-of-the-art science and research center that will dramatically upgrade the facilities available to the university’s successful science programs. The science facility will ensure even better experimentation and research opportunities for majors and non-majors alike.

Later this year, two new residence halls, a new apartment complex and a new central plant will open as part of a comprehensive student housing initiative that already has resulted in the construction of another new apartment complex and the complete refurbishment of two existing residence halls. The launch of the new housing initiative last year came on the heels of the largest student enrollment in school history.

“With more students than ever before seeking the high quality Christian education offered by Oklahoma Christian, we must increase our capacity and improve the facilities that enrich our students’ experience as they prepare for productive careers and lives of service,” O’Neal said. “The words Higher Learning~Higher Calling have been chosen with care, as they represent the two foundations on which this university stands - continually increasing academic excellence and spiritual excellence - thus addressing the whole needs of mankind.”

Donors who support the scholarship funding component of the Higher Learning~Higher Calling campaign will help make college education more affordable for more students. Within the past year, Oklahoma Christian has taken aggressive measures to increase scholarships, including the Presidential Academic Success Scholarship that provides increasing financial assistance up to full tuition, room and board based on national merit standing and ACT/SAT scores.

Donors also will have the opportunity to give toward restricted needs to enhance existing academic programs or scholarship funds at the university.

In conjunction with the campaign, donors will have naming opportunities through major gifts to the university. Naming opportunities include: student residence facilities and individual rooms; the planned science and research center; the planned university commons; the university recital hall; the university art gallery; academic wings, offices and classrooms; and academic endowments and scholarships.