article, written by Caleb Holt, appeared in the the Guymon
Daily Herald on July 28, 2004, and is used here
OPSU President Dave
Bryant . . . .
eye on the future
By Caleb Holt
Guymon Daily Herald
When Dr. David Bryant became the president
of Oklahoma Panhandle State University he inherited a list
of difficulties. The university's reputation had been spiraling
downward at an alarming rate. Problems with athletics,
difficulties with funding, and a growing detachment towards
the community of the Panhandle directed most of the conversations.
On Jan. 1, 2003, Dr. Bryant's first day,
the mood began to change.
In the past year that Dr. Bryant has stood
at the helm, waves of improvements have crashed into Oklahoma
shores. The Noble Center is up and running, the new student
apartments will be dedicated Aug. 28, and enrollment is
at a steady incline. Administration and faculty now speak
of new directions, and coming improvements. The vision
at OPSU is forward and upward.
of the first issues that Bryant tackled was that of infrastructure. "The physical plant had
benign neglect over the years, it needed some reinvestment.
There was a long laundry list," Bryant said. "Probably
the most pressing need was the library roof. It had been
leaking for a number of years. We ended up replacing the
entire roof," Bryant continued. "It was symptomatic
of a lot of other things that needed work here." Not
only was the library roof replaced but several other roofs
were repaired. Last spring the air conditioning system
for the campus was also replaced. Currently the heating
system throughout the interior of the campus is being replaced. "That
will be a major accomplishment, to replace the heating
system. The goal is to have that done by October," Bryant
Athletic department at OPSU needed some maintenance as
well. "One of the needs too that I
inherited when I came in as president was institutional
control of the athletics program. We have gone a long way
in resolving past problems, really setting the stage for
the future," Bryant said. "I have an Athletics
Management team which consists of myself as President Faculty
Athletics Representative Dr. Kathy Turner, our Athletic
Director Jerry Olson, and then of course, Dr. Wayne Manning,
Interim VP of Academics and chair of the athletic coordinating
This is a policy committee that includes
non-athletic faculty as well as coaches and students. Under
Bryant's leadership, the athletic programs at OPSU are
now integrated with the overall vision of the university.
While athletics play a significant role at
OPSU, the university is most known for its agricultural
Bryant, who has a doctorate in range management, is committed
to producing qualified graduates for a variety of careers
in agriculture. "We are very
strong in animal science, plant science, and Ag business.
Ag business is a very popular major," Bryant said.
offers five majors in Agriculture: Agribusiness, Agricultural
Education, Agronomy, Animal Science, and Equine Science. "We've added equine science as a brand new
major. It will be offered for the first time this fall.
That is in response to student demand and student response
that we've picked up through our recruiting efforts," Bryant
added. "With that equine science major in place, we
would like to develop women's equestrian as a club sport
and then eventually as an NCAA Division II sport."
well understands agricultures' importance not only to
OPSU but also to the surrounding area. "We
started out as an Ag-technical school in the early days."
Firestone Meat Laboratory is a good example of the university's
role within the agricultural landscape of the Panhandle.
It functions not only as an academic program for students,
but also as a service program for the region. "The Meat Lab provides instruction on
processing meat, grading meat, and all of the aspects of
meat science," Bryant said. Classes include live animal
and meat evaluation, and retail meat cutting. The lab employs
eight to ten student workers during the school year and
three to five student employees during the summer. The
lab is supported by doing custom slaughtering and processing.
Next fall the meat lab will supply the beef for the university
cafeteria. The meat lab performs quality meat research
for the area's swine companies (Seaboard, Monsanto, Hitch
Pork Inc., and Newsham Farms). Local citizens are also
able to process their own meat at the lab.
OPSU also conducts the oldest bull performance
test in the nation. The program, started in 1952, has collected
performance data on 5,485 head of beef bulls. This program
has helped cooperating breeders improve the performance
of their cattle from an average daily gain of 2.59 lbs.
per day in 1952 to 4.34 lbs. per day in 2004. This program
serves cooperators in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado,
and New Mexico and tests a variety of breeds.
Bryant's leadership the university has also instituted
an Ag-bioterrorism prevention plan for Texas County. "John Townsend, Dean of the School
of Ag, and Justin Collins, Dean of the School of Science,
were both on the committee that helped put together the
plan for Texas County. We are committed to providing the
educational component to that plan," Bryant said. "It
is the first in Oklahoma and one of the first in the country
to address bioterrorism. We've already received requests
from other counties in Okla. for a copy of our plan."
Under Dr. Bryant's leadership the university
is moving in new directions.
As with any academic institution, one of
the major goals is increased enrollment. OPSU has always
carried the reputation of a small, sparse campus literally
in No Man's Land. Dr. Bryant sees potential where most
see hardship. Having set higher enrollment goals, the university
president seeks to fulfill those objectives.
"The outlook is positive if we can come
close to our enrollment goals of thirteen to fourteen hundred
students." More students at the school translates
into more funds which will help OPSU offer more programs.
area that has seen improvement under Dr. Bryant is in
community relations. "The Ag area
is an excellent example of where we have practical programs
in almost every discipline imaginable. We have these practical
educational programs in all areas of agriculture. We have
become almost an instantaneous resource for many aspects
of agriculture. Everything from the Meat Lab to Ag business
and now equine science. When the larger community is looking
for some help on something such as the Ag-bioterrorism
prevention plan, we can provide some expertise." Bryant
added, "I think that's the real value of having OPSU
located where it is. It has not only given countless students
for almost 100 years an educational opportunity that might
not have been here if it hadn't been for OPSU but we also
provide expertise that we can offer the larger community
where we serve." One of Dr. Bryant's goals is to see
the university become even more relevant in this capacity.
"We have always been the primary college
educational opportunity in the Panhandle. Our recruiting
radius is about 130 miles in any direction. We are the
only four year institution until you get down to West Texas
prides itself on its regional focus, a focus that Dr.
Bryant seeks to continue. "In addition
to serving the Oklahoma Panhandle we serve the communities
of a larger region within that radius. It has always been
that way. The graduates we turn out of this place are just
unbelievable. Some have gone to work for NASA. We have
been strong in teacher education as well agriculture historically.
A year ago our teacher education graduates scored 100 percent
on the Oklahoma Teacher Certification Exams, whereas the
average is 96 percent. Out of the last year's crop of science
students, 2 students were accepted to the OSU College of
Veterinary Medicine. I don't know what the percentage is,
but for a small institution of 1,100 to 1,200 students
that has got to be a pretty remarkable situation. And that
is the quality of graduate that we have here."
As OPSU heads toward the start of another
school year, students and faculty have more to look forward
to than before.
The overall outlook for the university is
positive in each and every area.
From new student housing to additions to
the Ag Department, and with improvements to the infrastructure
and increases in enrollment, Dr. Bryant has created positive
momentum for the future of Oklahoma Panhandle State University.