The Downtown College Consortium, opened 18 years ago by five area colleges, will cease operation on July 31.
The consortium was started in 1995 by five metro-area colleges: Oklahoma City Community College, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, Rose State College and Redlands Community College.
The purpose of the consortium was to offer credit and noncredit college classes and corporate training at a location in downtown Oklahoma City. Classes were first offered in the First National Center, but eventually moved to the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library.
The advent of online learning, and a decision by director Gus Pekara to retire, led the colleges to end operations.
Pekera said Monday the consortium’s enrollment this semester included 58 students in credit courses and 425 students enrolled in non-credit courses. He said many of the noncredit enrollments were for residential care and assisted living classes that will continue at the OSU-OKC campus northwest of downtown.
OCCC President Paul Sechrist, current chair of the executive committee overseeing the consortium, said the colleges have seen online course offerings grow “exponentially.”
“Closing the Downtown College Consortium is the natural evolution in how we serve our community,” Sechrist said.
When the college was first opened, it was promoted as a way to provide easy access to classes during lunch breaks and after work for downtown workers. The college also teamed up with the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the Red Earth Museum, the Oklahoma City Ballet and other arts organizations to provide courses catering to special interests.
Downtown workers, however, can now enroll, be advised, purchase textbooks, take courses and receive degrees online — reducing the need for a physical downtown location. Another factor in the decision to close the consortium is the expansion of training facilities and classrooms by area employers.
Downtown also has seen an expanded presence by area universities, including the University of Central Oklahoma’s Academy of Contemporary Music, and boathouses along the Oklahoma River operated by Oklahoma City University, and soon, UCO and the University of Oklahoma.
“While the consortium may be coming to a close, the educational opportunities in the downtown area are greater than ever and are expected to expand,” Sechrist said. “We want those individuals and companies that have previously used the consortium to know that all of the metro colleges and universities are still very committed to providing convenient scheduling and relevant courses to businesses and students in downtown Oklahoma City — including courses offered as part of the strong partnership with the Norick Downtown Library, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Civic Center and other downtown organizations.”
For more information
After July 31, businesses and individuals interested in scheduling training or enrolling in courses offered in the downtown area should contact:
•Oklahoma City Community College: 682-7814
•Rose State College: 733-7488
•University of Central Oklahoma: 974-3371
•Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City: 945-3250
•Redlands Community College: 422-1228