Center for Sovereign Nations Launch
Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis welcomed leaders of the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations today to officially launch the OSU Center for Sovereign Nation Engagement and Partnerships.

“The center will serve students from the 39 sovereign nations in Oklahoma,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “As a land-grant institution, Oklahoma State University has an important role to play in creating initiatives to increase engagement and educational opportunities. We hope this center will not only strengthen relationships between the university and Sovereign Tribal Nations, but will also increase the number of American Indian graduates from OSU.”

Danny Wells, executive officer of education for the Chickasaw Nation, and Stacy Shepherd, senior executive officer from the Choctaw Nation, both praised Oklahoma State’s leadership in creating the center and said their tribes look forward to the opportunities it will provide all Native American students. OSU student and Chickasaw citizen Masheli Billy discussed how the center will help Native American students pursue their dreams.

The event opened with a game of stickball by members of the Chickasaw Nation and native dances by members of the Choctaw Nation.

The center was made possible through a generous gift from the Chickasaw Nation. The Choctaw Nation has provided funding to OSU’s Center for American Studies. OSU graduates more Native American students than any other land-grant institution in the country.

The multidisciplinary center will be a place of connection and relationship building among Sovereign Nation partners, students and faculty and has a three-fold mission:
•Ensure the sovereignty of American Indian Nations is respected and recognized in the creation and implementation of initiatives across the OSU system
•Increase the number of American Indian graduates form OSU
•Increase the number and quality of partnerships between OSU and Sovereign Tribal Nations

The center will report to the Office of the Provost and be under the direction of Elizabeth Mee Payne, J.D. Payne has taught American Indian entrepreneurship and serves as the Riata Fellow for American Indian Entrepreneurship.

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