April 28, 2006

RSU Sets May 10 Groundbreaking for Equestrian Center

Rogers State University will break ground May 10 for its Equestrian Center located south of Oologah.

The groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m., Wednesday, May 10, at the construction site, which is five miles south of Oologah on U.S. 169. The public is invited to attend.

When completed this fall, the Equestrian Center will allow the university to better serve the needs of both the rodeo team and Bit by Bit, a cooperative program between RSU and Oologah-Talala Public Schools to promote physical and mental health for children and adults with disabilities through horseback riding.

Facilities will include both outdoor and indoor arenas; an improved mounting area to assist Bit by Bit riders in mounting a horse; a classroom with one-way observational viewing for parents, students, and others; increased stall space and turn-out areas; storage and tack areas; an administrative office; a waiting area with two ADA-compliant restrooms; and other features.

"Construction of the RSU Equestrian Center will benefit not only our students, but also the communities we serve," said RSU President Dr. Joe Wiley.

Rodeo team members will utilize the facility for their practices and team meetings. The Bit by Bit program, which will be housed at the facility, serves children and adults from communities throughout northeastern Oklahoma. In addition to the therapy provided to the program participants, Bit by Bit provides unique learning opportunities for RSU students who volunteer with the program and the university's nursing students, who can receive hands-on experience by working with riders.

RSU currently operates equestrian facilities on its Claremore campus. The university's rapid growth since becoming a four-year university in 2000 has necessitated moving the facilities off-campus.

In 2004, the Frank and Wanda Sanders Family Trust donated approximately 20 acres south of Oologah along U.S. 169 to be used for the equestrian center site. Funding for construction was provided from university funds, bond funds and private donations, including a $375,000 gift from The Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation of Fayetteville, Ark. The RSU Foundation currently is engaged in a campaign to fund construction and develop an endowment for the program's operating expenses.

Earlier this year, the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents RSU's governing body approved a contract with Murphy Builders of Tulsa to construct the facility. LWPB Architects of Oklahoma City was previously selected as the project's architectural firm.