Earlier this week, RSU announced the availability of direct student aid from the coronavirus relief bill passed by the U.S. Congress. This includes over $1 million in grant money available to RSU students.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, popularly known as the CARES Act, provides emergency federal funding to replace money lost in the struggling economy. Within its provisions, the act includes direct aid to millions of Americans, allocates funding for small business recovery loans, and reforms parts of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration drug review process. The legislation also established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
In a statement on April 9, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos described the department’s intentions to begin distributing allocations from the fund. Priorities for the fund are to “get support to those most in need as quickly as possible. That starts with college students,” said DeVos.
“I gave my team a charge… get support to those most in need as quickly as possible. That starts with college students whose lives have been disrupted, many of whom are facing financial challenges and struggling to make ends meet.”U.S. Secretary of education betsy devos on april 9, 2020
On April 27, RSU began accepting applications from students for grant money. The university established the RSU CARES Grant to help students cover financial needs created by the pandemic such as “childcare, housing, food, and coursework needs” said RSU Vice President of Enrollment Management and Registrar Heidi Hoskinson.
Hoskinson explained that the RSU CARES Grant comes from a $2,586,804 allocation from the U.S. Department of Education. Half of the allocation, $1,293,402, must directly go to students who qualify. RSU students may apply for the RSU CARES Grant through their MyRSU account, under the student tab.
To be awarded a grant, students must be eligible to receive federal student aid funds. Hoskinson, however, encourages “all current students to apply for the CARE Grant.” Students who may not be otherwise be eligible may be assisted with other available aid.
Hoskinson explained that students should apply for the RSU CARES Grant, even if they think they may not be eligible. RSU students will be asked to explain how they have been affected from the COVID-19 outbreak on the grant application.
Gallery: Students Return To Campus for First Day
RSU Announces #HealthyHillcats and Required Masks
Earlier this past week, RSU finalized plans for the fall semester. As a part of its coronavirus response plans, RSU will require masks, end their fall semester online, and reduced dining capacity. This is a part of their #HealthyHillcat social campaign.
“We are less than a month away from the beginning of the fall semester and each passing day is a mixture of hopeful anticipation and new unexpected challenges. This year will look very different,” said RSU President Larry Rice
RSU joins a growing list of Oklahoma colleges requiring face coverings for the fall semester. Since June 30, RSU employees have been required to wear masks according to a new employee policy.
Students will be expected “to wear a mask inside University buildings and outdoors on campus when a social distance of at least six feet is not possible.”
RSU has moved forward with a recommendation to end their in-person semester early and finish online. Following Thanksgiving, RSU will transition to one week of online instruction and continue online for finals week.
While no decisions to change class schedules have been announced, the university’s webpage for the coronavirus resources suggests modifying upperclassmen courses for hybrid and online delivery is an option.
Dining facilities at RSU will operate a reduced capacity and are encouraging take-out options.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Editor’s note: this story was updated at 8:56 a.m. on July 20, 2020 to include a statement by RSU President Larry Rice.
Allied Health Degree Becomes Fastest Growing Program at RSU
It is a story 29 years in the making and involves an Oklahoma Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame inductee. Brian Coley serves as the lead instructor for the Allied Health, B.S., program. Last year, Coley approached the School of Professional Studies with an idea to expand RSU’s offerings of health science degrees.
Coley spoke to School of Professional Studies Dean Susan Willis, and together, they worked to establish an allied health program that will prepare RSU students for a variety of healthcare careers and graduate degrees.
“I’m at a part of my career where I want to work with and teach students before they go onto their master’s,” described Coley. The allied health program offers options in athletic training, physical therapy, and occupational therapy and currently has over 90 declared students.
Licensure in Oklahoma as an athletic trainer requires individuals to possess a bachelor’s degree. However, an increasing number of athletic training positions are requiring master’s degrees. This is where Coley saw an opportunity.
“9% of our high schools [in Oklahoma] have certified athletics trainers,” said Coley. The demand for them is increasing. Over the next eight years, the United States Labor of Bureau Statistics expects the profession to grow by 19%.
Currently, only three Oklahoma universities offer a graduate degree in athletic training. Coley explained the curriculum for RSU’s allied health program aligns with the prerequisite courses for Oklahoma State University, University of Tulsa, and University of Central Oklahoma.
Courses RSU students will take include: Biomechanics, Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries, and Methods of Strength and Conditioning. Coley explained longterm plans to eventually embed a strength and conditioning certification into the degree. “We want to make sure they’re prepared,” said Coley, “there is a shortage in physical therapy.”
Mya Hilderbrand, a junior studying allied health, described her experiences in the program. “I took a sports medicine class in high school and really enjoyed it…. when I came to RSU they only had a fitness management degree, but it wasn’t what I wanted.
“Then, my sophomore year I heard RSU adopted the allied health program, and it offered the exact degree I wanted. So far, the program has been amazing. Professor Coley, the main director of the program, has done an amazing job.
“He is extremely informative and prefers to do a lot of hands-on activities, which important for this field of work. He also cares a great deal about his students and offers any help they may need,” said Hilderbrand.
Allied health students can expect a hands-on experience with opportunities for field experience. Whether a student is “in a clinic, on the sideline” or helping at the Hillcat Fun Run, they will have the opportunity to practice their skills. The end goal is students to “walk into their first [graduate] class, and they’re ready to go,” said Coley.
Students interested in the Allied Health, B.S., program should visit the Department of Health Sciences website or consult their academic advisor.