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President O’Neal prominently featured at creativity symposium

Thursday, October 1, 2009   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Katy Roybal
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DAWN MARKS, The Oklahoman

Universities should be leading the way, not hindering creativity in Oklahoma education, six university presidents said at a creativity symposium Wednesday.

“Higher education really ought to be leading the creativity parade in Oklahoma,” said Roger Webb, University of Central Oklahoma president.

Webb said fear and the structure of the higher education system often are barriers to creativity.

Tom McKeon, Tulsa Community College president, said administrators must have more flexibility and be open to ideas from faculty members. Too often, the people who can bring change are thwarted, he said.

“They get frustrated with the process. They get frustrated with the bureaucracy,” McKeon said.

The presidents spoke on a panel during Creative Oklahoma's creativity symposium, “The New Renaissance: A Revolution in Creativity and Learning” at UCO.
Don Betz, president of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, said administrators must also stop bad practices and bad habits that create resistance to those changes.

A university also must find ways to connect its students with the community and foster community development, he said.

Mike O'Neal, Oklahoma Christian University president, said professors are expected to be experts who cannot be wrong and cannot fail.

Administrators need to create an environment where professors and students aren't afraid to take risks, he said.

“I think specialization can be to the detriment of creativity,” O'Neal said.

John Feaver, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma president, said at his school, interdisciplinary environments and team teaching are encouraged.

That helps enhance imagination and creative spirit, he said.

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis said administrators also are working toward more interdisciplinary approaches to education. Hargis said he hopes departments will work with new areas like the school of entrepreneurship, which is developing now.

“Every discipline should get a minor in entrepreneurship,” Hargis said. “You ought to know how to start a business because that's what America is.”

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