The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 13, 2013

NEO receives $800,000 federal grant

MIAMI, Okla. — Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College has received an $800,000 grant that will be used to hire an instructor, purchase equipment and provide scholarships to meet the needs of local industry.

The grant, obtained in collaboration with the Shawnee Tribe, continues a partnership with nine tribes of Northeast Oklahoma that has brought $5.3 million to the college in recent years.

Ron Sparkman, chief of the Shawnee Tribe, received notification from U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., that the tribe was the recipient of an $800,000 federal grant from the United States Department of Education. The Shawnee Tribe’s administrative headquarters are based in Miami.

Said Sparkman: “It’s going to be a good partnership. We look forward to working with the college and we are very proud of the college.’’

Sparkman said Shawnee tribal staff and NEO staff worked together for two years to get the grant. He credited Mark Grigsby, chairman of NEO’s math and sciences department, with helping to make the grant a reality.

“Dr. Grigsby worked very hard with local industries to develop a workable plan that will fill their needs,’’ said Sparkman.

Jeffery Hale, president of NEO, said, “Money for scholarships, equipment and teachers — this is the meat and potatoes of the grant world. This will allow us to hire our first full-time faculty member in the process technology program. That’s a game changer from the college’s perspective.’’

Hale recalled a luncheon he attended with all nine tribal chiefs on his second day on the job five years ago.

“We spent 3 1/2 hours together,” he said. “The tribes made a commitment to provide better educational opportunities for everyone in the area. We are now a Native American serving institution. We got that designation in 2010. We are one of only 75 schools in the United States with that designation.’’

The $5.3 million in grant money that has been received since then has helped to fund a Native American Center for Excellence. Through that program, the college will offer its first online degree program next year.  

The $800,000 grant has been designated for NEO’s process technology program, known as PTEC. The first PTEC classes were started at NEO in 2010.

Grigsby, who heads up the program, said, “Through the two-year program, students can receive an associate of applied science degree in process technology, which prepares them to essentially walk into careers as process technicians with very little in-house training by the company.’’

The PTEC program prepares students for careers in the oil and gas industry, chemical manufacturing, power generation, water and waste-water treatment, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and food and beverage production.

The grant will fund the purchase of new equipment valued at $146,000. A feature of the grant will provide for the recruitment of Native American students to the PTEC program through scholarships. There also will be funding for summer camps for high school students and teachers.

Part-time instructor

The grant also funds a full-time instructor for two years. Adjunct instructors currently teach the program. Money also is designated for a position that will serve the dual role of counselor/recruiter.

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