Eastern Oklahoma State College

A Message from President Wansick: The Significance of Colleges like Eastern

March 06, 2024

Community colleges stand out as exceptional value propositions in the realm of education. A 2019 study evaluating the economic impact of institutions like Eastern highlights a remarkable $8.30 produced in economic output per dollar of state appropriations. Another perspective underscores the efficiency of Eastern, with a state allocation just shy of $6 million from a $12.6 billion state budget, constituting a mere .005% of the total budget, Eastern is able to make a tremendous impact. To put it in context, with this fraction of the state budget Eastern manages to educate nearly 1500 students annually, employ over 200 people, and graduate approximately 200 students each year, propelling them into further education or directly into the workforce. In fact, our graduates are among the professionals leading our local businesses, schools, and governments.

While these numbers paint a compelling picture, the genuine essence of the community college system lies in the transformative impact on lives and the futures it forges. Eastern's recently revised mission succinctly captures this essence: "Cultivate Growth, Create Futures, and Change Lives." Education, at its core, is about shaping destinies. The economic influence of Eastern and similar community colleges statewide is indisputable, yet the more profound narrative unfolds in the influence these institutions exert on their communities and the students they serve. Community colleges assist wayward teens in becoming determined adults, help workers trapped in dead-end jobs forge new futures, and empower ambitious employees to acquire the credentials needed for promotions.

Students not only acquire knowledge in the classroom but also learn vital life skills on campus, such as time management, financial literacy, and social acumen. Eastern serves as a secure space for students to take their first steps into independent adulthood.

For 116 years, Eastern has been a steadfast educational presence in Southeastern Oklahoma, facilitating the dreams of countless students who may not have otherwise accessed such educational opportunities. This narrative resonates across various colleges in Oklahoma, each playing a vital role in their communities. Eastern is a "small town" among Oklahoma colleges - and just like small towns, the size of the population doesn't define its importance, value, or impact on the State of Oklahoma.

The authentic value of education lies in the stories of students transcending adversity—individuals transcending poverty, single mothers securing a future for their children. These narratives crystallize the essence and worth of education.

These impactful stories echo throughout our state, waiting to be heard if we take the time to listen. Amidst discussions of consolidation and mergers, Eastern remains unwavering in its commitment to serving students and creating opportunities that illuminate the future of Oklahoma. Advancing our state demands providing educational avenues for our rural population, and Eastern is poised to be a driving force in steering Oklahoma towards a brighter future.