President/Provost at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology at MidAmerica Industrial Park Dr. Bill Path spoke to the Pryor Area Chamber of Commerce Wednesday. The luncheon was held at Saint Mark’s Catholic Church. Path mentioned that at the last graduation he asked the students how many of them had jobs waiting for them. He said almost the entire student body stood up. “I ask you, what other college or university anywhere in this country would the president be brave enough to stand in front of the graduates and ask that question?” Path said that nearly 100 percent of the graduates have a job waiting for them. Some graduates have two or three. He said that he doesn’t mean the graduates have work six months later. “I’m talking about graduating on Friday and going to work on a Monday...at OSUIT we march to a beat of a different drum. We stack the deck in favor of our students.”
Path said that businesses are needing skilled workers and they can’t find them. He said his school follows what businesses need to prepare young people and older adults with those skill sets to get them work and in so doing fill business needs. Path said that OSUIT is the only school in Oklahoma that teaches applied technology.
The faculty consists of people who worked in industry. He said they work with the private sector. Companies like Toyota, Chrysler, General Motors, Rolex and Catipiller provide lessons plans at OSUIT.
Other schools that have applied science degrees offer between 64 to 72 credit hours. OSUIT offers 90 credit hours.
Path said the school operates on a 12 month calendar and that he does not know how a school can operate on a nine month basis and close the doors for summer. “Unless you are in education, I don’t know any other sector that does that so why then do we in higher education think that is the best way to train young
people to fit the work force? At OSUIT that has never made sense for us. Since 1946 we have been a 12 month institution on the trimester system and it fits the needs of the employers better and it also prepares young people that much better, gets their expectations where they need to be.”
Path said corporations advise OSUIT on training. He said OSUIT is located in Pryor because of MidAmerica Industrial Park. “We are engaged actively in customized training for employers out at the industrial park.” Rogers State University partners with OSUIT to offer academic credit courses not offered at OSUIT.
“Our whole economy has changed folks. In 2008 if you were awake at the time, our economy changed in the United States. Our workforce needs changing in the United States. We started seeing these unemployment rates soaring far beyond where we thought they would be.” He added that we now see 7.8 percent unemployment as some sort of relief.
Path said that it used to be, “Just get your bachelors degree in something, it doesn’t matter what it is, just get your bachelors degree and someone is going to employ you after you graduate. Well folks, after 2008 that recommendation is no longer the right thing to tell a young person.” He cited Occupy Wall Street protests as an example of how we need to reevaluate higher education.
Enrollment at OSUIT is up two percent at 3,200 students.