June 12, 2009

RSU Dedicates OMA Student Lounge during Alumni Reunion

The student lounge in the new Centennial Center at Rogers State University was dedicated at a ceremony on Saturday, June 6, during the annual Oklahoma Military Academy alumni reunion.

The OMA Student Lounge was dedicated before an audience of RSU students, faculty and alumni of the military academy.

The lounge was funded by 10 former cadets who attended the OMA in the 1950s and 1960s, including Thomas W. Anderson of Olympia, Wash., Gerald L. Breeding of Oklahoma City, Bob Corlett of Afton, Okla., Scott L. Graham of Broken Arrow, Jack E. Harris of Kansas, Okla., Harry H. Poarch of Tulsa, Bert J. Rosson of Jackson, Miss., Jack E. Short of Bixby, Okla., C.R. "Randy" Vierling of Edmond, Okla., and Ted Wright of Kerrville, Texas.

"We are deeply appreciative of the generosity of these distinguished alumni who have provided a quiet place to study as well as an introduction to the legacy of the Oklahoma Military Academy to a new generation of students on the Hill," said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice.

Each year, OMA alumni and their families return to the Hill for the annual reunion, which includes a variety of activities and events, including a golf tournament, cadet memorial service, Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony and a dinner and dance.

During last year's reunion, the former cadets determined they would assist in the funding of the student lounge to help preserve the OMA legacy.

The new OMA Student Lounge features a series of photos, memorabilia and narrative depicting the transformation of the campus from its inception as a preparatory school in 1909 to an esteemed military academy.

From 1919 to 1971, the OMA provided a secondary school and college education to more than 10,000 students. The OMA has an extensive register of graduates who became great leaders, both in military and civilian life. More than 2,500 OMA graduates served in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. More than 100 graduates gave their lives in service to their country. OMA quickly gained recognition as one of the top military schools in the U.S., and was often referred to as the "West Point of the Southwest."

In 1971, in response to the growing educational needs of a rapidly developing economy in the Claremore area, the Oklahoma Legislature replaced the Oklahoma Military Academy with Claremore Junior College, which later was renamed Rogers State College. The two-year college was renamed Rogers State University in 1998 and received accreditation as a four-year university in 2000.

However, the legacy of the military academy continues to thrive through the annual OMA reunion, the involvement of OMA alumni in RSU campus life and funding of scholarships for RSU students by OMA alumni.

The public can learn more about the OMA legacy at the OMA Museum, located on the second floor of Meyer Hall on the RSU campus in Claremore. The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.