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Northwestern Oklahoma State University announces Imagine Northwestern comprehensive campaign

ALVA – Northwestern Oklahoma State University announced an ambitious $28 million comprehensive campaign on Saturday, April 29, renewing its commitment to students and faculty, and a continued promise to the state of Oklahoma.

At its annual Spring Alumni Reunion, Northwestern also announced it has raised nearly $24 million to date in support of the Imagine Northwestern campaign, the first comprehensive campaign in the University’s history.

“One hundred and 20 years ago, the pioneers that settled northwest Oklahoma imagined a school that would serve as the cornerstone for education and opportunity in a new land,” said Dr. Janet Cunningham, president of Northwestern. “Their dreams built a university that has forever changed the landscape of northwest Oklahoma. Today, we honor their legacy and show the world why we believe in Northwestern.”

The Imagine Northwestern campaign will support three major areas across the university, including:

  • Creation of scholarship endowments that will increase the number of students receiving financial assistance to 70 percent;
  • Increasing direct support for academic programs and faculty through the creation of new endowed chairs, professorships and lectureships, along with new initiatives and programs; and
  • Renovation of several existing campus facilities, including the central mall area, Herod Hall Auditorium and the Fine Arts Building, the oldest academic building on campus.

“This campaign comes at a critical time for Northwestern,” Cunningham said. “The collapse of state funding for public higher education places the University at a crossroads. Private support of Northwestern will be the catalyst that allows the University to thrive, and fulfill its mission and promise to the people of Oklahoma. Our alumni and supporters have spoken with transformational gifts during the early phase of the campaign.” 

The University began working with the Northwestern Foundation, Inc., in 2012 in preparation for the campaign.

“Throughout its history, the Northwestern Foundation has worked hand-in-hand with the University to secure private support and transform the passion of our donors into life-changing opportunities for students,” Cunningham said. “The current volunteer leadership of the Foundation, along with the staff, has devoted countless hours preparing for this moment.”

Skeeter Bird, chief executive officer of the Foundation, echoed her comments.    

“Our first comprehensive campaign has been successful because of the people involved,” Bird said. “Our volunteers, our donors, as well as the staffs of both the University and the Foundation and Alumni Association have never worked as well together in my 12 years here. The work has been challenging and simultaneously uplifting. Everyone is focused on the support and the success of the students and the University.”

To date, the campaign has resulted in the establishment of 23 new endowed scholarships, 25 endowed faculty chairs, one endowed professorship and nine endowed lectureships. Funding for the establishment of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program also was secured.

Academic infrastructure improvements as a result of campaign funding include construction of the R. Deane and Esther M. Wymer Nursing Lab, and a design and build lab for robotics. A $1 million gift has been made to renovate the Fine Arts Building.

The Dean Linder Press Box headlines improvements to athletic facilities, along with a new artificial turf playing surface at Ranger Field, construction of the Dunning Performance Center, and improvements at the Campbell Rodeo Complex.

The volunteer leadership of the campaign steering committee includes co-chairs Joe Shirley and Pat Headlee of Alva. Shirley is a 1970 graduate of Northwestern and owner of Shirley Farms. Headlee is a 1970 graduate and is a retired bank executive from BancCentral in Alva.

Other volunteer members include Kenneth Fellers (’63) of Byron; Warren and Beverly (’67) Little of Alva; and Sen. Roland (’72) and Terry (’73) Pederson.

Northwestern representatives include Cunningham (’76) and Steve Valencia (’84).

Foundation representatives include Bird (’85), John Allen, Shane Engelken (’14) and Melissa Jenlink.

More details about the campaign, including giving options, are available on the Imagine Northwestern campaign website at


Phone: (580) 327-8593
Fax: (580) 327-8499

Northwestern Foundation & Alumni Association
709 Oklahoma Blvd.
Alva, OK 73717

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