Located a few minutes from downtown, Oklahoma City University has a unique role to play in shaping the city’s future, President Robert Henry said.
Whether it be through academic programs, fine arts performances or its role on the Oklahoma River, OCU has taken steps to react as the city has changed.
Henry said the relocation of the OCU law school to downtown Oklahoma City also will be a major change. The law school is set to move to the old Central High School at 800 N Harvey.
Moving the school downtown made sense for both OCU and the city, Henry said.
“It will bring legal speakers, continuing legal education and legal librarians downtown,” Henry said.
The university has tried to react to the city’s shifting needs, Henry said.
The Meinders School of Business has beefed up its master’s of business administration programs to serve local businesses, particularly energy companies.
The university has put new emphasis on its cell and molecular biology programs to serve a growing medical research community, he said.
Henry said he would like to see the university do a better job promoting its fine arts performances, which mesh well with the downtown fine arts scene.
“We have about 350 performances a year,” Henry said. “We need to get the word out for those performances a bit better. We have world-class performers in music and dance. You don’t have to go to Dallas.”
OCU also has played an important role in the development of the Oklahoma River.
“We were the first university to have a rowing team,” Henry said. “We are very proud of that fact.”
Rowing coach Mike Knopp was instrumental in pushing development of the river as a rowing venue. It is now one of the premier rowing sites in the country and the national headquarters for USA Canoe/Kayak, the governing body for Olympic flat-water sprints and white-water kayaking.
“We are so pleased to have been involved from the very start, but I’ll also tell you this, those rowing students we get are very smart,” Henry said. “They get up about 4:30 every morning and go down there and work out. I don’t know how they do it.”
The river is a good example of how the city and OCU can have a mutually beneficial relationship, Henry said.