NWOSU presents spring scholarship bill to Alva City Council


Marione Martin

Dr. David Pecha, NWOSU vice president, discusses the impact of the Alva scholarships Thursday.

Weather concerns caused the City of Alva to reschedule the Alva City meeting from Monday to Thursday. A special meeting on a bond issue election for the swimming pool was also canceled and will be set for a date in June.

Representatives of Northwestern Oklahoma State University attended the meeting to present the invoice for the spring Alva Incentive Scholarships totaling $236,589.43. The scholarships are funded by a one-half percent city sales tax.

NWOSU Foundation Director Allen "Skeeter" Bird said he didn't expect to speak as a couple of other people were supposed to be at the meeting. But when it was moved to Thursday.

Bird talked about the impact of a couple of events he attended during the month. The first was the May 11 NWOSU commencement.

"I go to a lot of graduations as you might expect, and that was one of the most wonderful graduations I can remember. The weather was absolutely perfect, about 60 degrees, no wind, the crowd was huge," he said. "And I can't remember a time when there was more student enthusiasm, not just for themselves but for each other. It was just electric. It was very wonderful. And I felt at the end that we must be doing something right here in Alva at Northwestern for that to happen."

The second event was the Alva High School awards ceremony. He said over $700,000 was given out in the form of scholarships, roughly $10,000 per senior. "Those happen in big part because of the Alva Incentive Scholarship, the Share Trust Scholarship and the Gene Belcher Scholarship," he said. "That is legitimate investments in higher education."

Bird said he did an Internet search on the connection between education and wealth. The first thing that popped up was an article by Sourobh Das titled "The Connection Between Education and Wealth." He shared a paragraph from the article: "For a government, investment in education is one of the safest and surest ways to improve the economic condition of the country and standard of living of low-income households and individuals. It also has other less obvious benefits like lower crime rates and improved personal health."

Bird said there's a low crime rate in Alva and "I talk to our doctors; they see these folks that are 90-plus all the time. We have a great community. We're doing some good things." He said the state average is that 25 percent of adults have a college education. "If we can invest where 50 percent of our kids are getting a college education, what's that going to mean for Alva in the long term? So I'm excited."

Dr. David Pecha, NWOSU vice president for administration, stepped to the podium. Earlier in the meeting there was a presentation involving the Alva Recreation Complex. "I was reminded when Dr. Hannaford was talking about the rec park," said Pecha. "We have to go back and thank the citizens of Alva in the late 1990s when the discussions talked about doing the economic incentives for the community and half of that sales tax goes to the rec park and half to the university. Like Skeeter said, what better investment in our youth than those two types of programs."

Pecha presented some statistics to follow Bird's comments. During the Alva High awards program, NWOSU awarded $218,000 in scholarships to seniors, up from about $190,000 last year.

"Currently we have 38 of the high school seniors enrolled in Northwestern for the next fall. We have recruited six of the eight valedictorians who have committed to Northwestern," Pecha said.

Last fall NWOSU had about 430 students attending the Ranger Preview. "That's the first offer we make to those students, and that is funded with the Alva incentive sales tax. Last year we received about 50 percent of those that attended that event that ended up coming to Northwestern," he said.

The Spring Showcase brought 123 students to campus. A year ago that number was 97. This event recruits both high school seniors and transfer students.

Pecha said in addition, the recruitment staff will be working all summer to bring prospective students to Northwestern. "They've set us a goal to have our freshman class about 400 students this fall," he added.

Pecha handed out information on Northwestern's economic impact compiled by the state chamber for fiscal year 2016. In that year NWOSU generated expenditures of $43.8 million and supported approximately $58.1 million in total economic output. The direct effect was a total of 712 employees with compensation of $20.3 million. The impact of expenditures by higher education-related suppliers included 36 people employed and $1 million in compensation. The addition impact of the spending of employees and suppliers' employees to the overall economy accounted for another 185 people employed and $4.7 million for a total of $26 million impact.

The city council accepted the scholarship invoice but the actual payment was handled through the Alva Economic Development Authority. They met a little later in the evening and voted unanimous approval of a motion to pay the bill.

Marione Martin

NWOSU Foundation Director Allen "Skeeter" Bird presents the spring scholarship invoice to the Alva City Council.


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