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Five-school consortium seeks to bring higher education downtown

If you walk into the fourth floor of the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library in the middle of a weekday afternoon, you might get the impression that nothing goes on there. Wait around an hour or two, though, and you're bound to see a bit more activity.
by Silas Allen Published: November 18, 2012

Appealing to working adult students is also one of the goals of OKC Downtown College. The idea behind the school is twofold, said college director Gus Pekara. The college's primary mission is to bring higher education to downtown Oklahoma City and the 52,000 or so people who work there.

The college's classes are held at noon and after 5 p.m., making them a convenient option for people who work downtown. Anyone who works downtown and is pursuing a degree might have a tough time driving to UCO in Edmond or the University of Oklahoma in Norman in time for class, he said. But having a class within walking distance may be a more viable option.

The other half of the college's mission is to offer classes that don't always apply to any particular degree. Students in these classes might be pursuing a degree in the field, or they may just be interested in learning more on a particular subject.

For these classes, the college works with other partners downtown like the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the Red Earth Museum and the Oklahoma City Ballet.

For example, he said, the college offers a class on Native American art at the Red Earth Museum, and another course on American Modernism in conjunction with a special Modernist exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Unlike traditional art appreciation courses, where students look at slides of art works, courses taught at the museum expose students to art firsthand.

“These people are where it's at,” he said.