The University of Tulsa partners with Choctaw Nation to boost Native American college success rates

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Two Oklahoma institutions – The University of Tulsa (TU) and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) – are joining forces to help Oklahoma Native Americans achieve their higher education goals.

The partnership focuses on long-term, sustainable progress in the CNO members’ academic achievement -- reversing a national trend in Native American college dropout rates. Through financial, academic and advisory support, TU and CNO will work together to overcome barriers to academic success.

“We know the desire to attend college and earn a degree is strong among CNO’s top student scholars,” said CNO Chief Gregory E. Pyle. “With this partnership, we now have a holistic approach to helping our students cross that academic finish line.”

A key aspect of the TU/CNO partnership is early involvement with students and parents. TU will reach out to students as early as the eighth or ninth grade through the CNO Scholarship Advisement Program’s workshops, college preparation testing and school visits. TU also will act as a resource for the CNO Scholarship Advisement Program on issues related to college admission and financial aid.

While the number of Native Americans enrolled in colleges and universities has more than doubled in the past 30 years, graduation rates have remained low. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 44 percent of American Indians age 25 or older had attended some college in 2007; however, only nine percent of that group had earned a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of educational attainment.

“TU has a long-standing commitment to educating the nation’s best students while ensuring that students who enter college have the resources needed to complete their education,” said TU President Steadman Upham. In fact, TU improved student retention more than any other private research university in the nation over the last five years, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

“Our partnership with the Choctaw Nation stands as an affirmation of this commitment and allows us to expand our retention strategies with Oklahoma’s native populations,” Upham said.

The TU/CNO partnership also will provide the following:

  • a four-year scholarship to eligible entering freshmen and transfers who are members of Choctaw Nation’s Scholarship Advisement Program
  • additional assistance in seeking outside scholarships for Choctaw students
  • free tutoring for all Choctaw students
  • support for the growth of the TU Native American Student Association to enrich campus diversity and cultural education
  • an annual CNO event hosted by TU for tribal leaders and students with a focus on leadership

For more information, contact the TU Admission office at (918) 631-2307 (email - or CNO’s Scholarship Advisement Program office at (580) 924-8280 ext. 2547 (email -

About The University of Tulsa
The University of Tulsa is a private university providing a comprehensive educational experience to more than 4,200 students from across the United States and around the world. With outstanding facilities, a vibrant residential campus and a student-faculty ratio of 10 to 1, TU has been recognized as one of the 50 “Best Value” private universities by USA Today and the Princeton Review, and ranked 88th among doctoral institutions and within the top 50 private universities on U.S. News & World Report’s 2010 survey.

About the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) is an American Indian Tribe and is federally recognized by the United States government through the Secretary of the Interior. CNO is headquartered in Durant, and serves over 190,000 members worldwide through its social, economic and educational initiatives.

David Hamby