Rogers State College has always been an innovator and leader in distance education.
In the 1980s, under President Richard Mosier, RSC began offering classes over the airwaves of its new television station, KXON-TV. The institution also began taking its college credit classes on the road to high schools across northeast Oklahoma, including Bartlesville, a community traditionally underserved by public higher education.
In the spring of 1988, RSU offered 18 classes at Bartlesville High School and the Mid-High School, with a demand for more. That year, the institution appointed the first full-time coordinator for the fledgling Bartlesville campus, Adele Register. Her first task was to locate a permanent facility. She found a small building on East Adams Road, where the school leased space from Phillips Petroleum Co. for the next 17 years. However, enrollment was limited to about 400 students each semester due to lack of space.
By 2004, a task force of local civic leaders, students and faculty was formed to find a larger location for the campus. It just so happened that the Schlumberger Co. owned an historic nine-story building downtown that it wanted to sell.
In 2005, RSU, now a four-year university, purchased the building at a reduced price. The building was constructed in 1919 by the Bartlesville Masonic organization, which occupied the ninth floor of the building until 2000. It originally served as headquarters for the Cities Service Oil Co. and later was the home of the Reda Pump Co. RSU quickly renovated two floors of the building and moved its campus there in time for the beginning of the fall 2005 semester.
Overnight, downtown came alive with students carrying backpacks. The move was heralded by civic boosters as the cornerstone of the redevelopment of downtown Bartlesville.
Today, the Bartlesville campus serves more than 500 students and offers several degree programs on four floors in the building, with plans for expansion.