When Northeastern State University came to Muskogee 20 years ago, it culminated a desire to give residents a complete education, a former mayor says.

“The education consortium at the time had a vision,” said Kathy Hewitt, mayor from 1992 to 1996.

That vision was to enable Muskogee residents to get an education from pre-elementary through college without having to leave town, she said.

Over the past 20 years, the NSU Muskogee campus, 2400 W. Shawnee Bypass, has helped thousands of students reach that goal.

NSU will commemorate the campus’ 20th anniversary 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Muskogee campus opened April 27, 1993. Administrators said then that only upper-level and graduate courses would be taught at the Muskogee campus. At the time, officials wanted to complement the lower-level classes offered at Connors State College and Bacone College.

NSU Muskogee Campus Dean Tim McElroy estimated between 15,000 to 20,000 students have been served at the campus since it opened. He said the campus now averages 650 to 700 NSU students a year.

“That’s just a guesstimate,” he said.

McElroy said a variety of programs are offered at NSU Muskogee, including master’s in business administration and master’s in nursing education. The campus also has a speech pathology clinic.

A master’s in occupational therapy program is to begin at NSU Muskogee in the 2014 spring semester. Rooms at the campus are being remodeled into therapy rooms for the program.

NSU course listings show 49 full-term classes at NSU Muskogee for the spring semester and 61 full-term classes for the fall semester.

McElroy said several short-term and weekend classes also are offered at NSU Muskogee.

He said the campus has about 30 instructors, including 10 instructors in nursing and allied health. The campus has 20 other staff members working as secretaries, maintenance and other positions.

Hewitt, one of the speakers slated for Wednesday, said a city education consortium had been looking for upper level college opportunities in the early 1990s.

“In stepped Roger Webb,” Hewitt said, referring to W. Roger Webb, NSU president at the time.

Hewitt said voters had approved a temporary sales tax to build the facility. The facility featured a clock tower reminiscent of Seminary Hall at the NSU campus in Tahlequah.

“It was the most amazing thing,” Hewitt said about the vote. “People who would never set foot on the campus voted to support it.”

Also amazing, she said, “was that university was filled within six to nine months with well over 1,000 students.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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