The University of Tulsa and the Cherokee Nation today added a chapter to what Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker called the two bodies’ “long and storied history.”
The school announced a new scholarship endowment, worth $1 million, created from a two-to-one matching grant by the school on the tribe’s donation of a third of a million.
“Education and the Cherokee Nation go hand in hand,” Chief Baker said, citing the tribe’s long history of working to educate its people, perhaps most famously through the efforts of Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet.
“We’re all about taking our money and making it go as far as it possibly can,” he added. “To have a fine institution like TU be willing to partner with us to help educate our kids is something extremely outstanding.”
Board President of the Cherokee Nation Foundation Robin Ballenger says the idea began to grow about two years ago, “that we could leverage our money, that we could grow our funds by matches from universities that Cherokee students attended.”
“So we began to approach universities,” she said. “The University of Tulsa was so cooperative, so friendly, so efficient and great to work with.”
She describes likely potential scholarship recipients as residents of the 14-county Cherokee nation jurisdiction, living in rural areas, who are outstanding achievers.
They would also have a desire to serve the tribe, she said, “to go get their education, build themselves up to be the best that they can be, and then come back and help serve the nation.”
TU President Steadman Upham thanked the Nation for its continued support of education.
“I just … emphasize the importance of support for student scholarships,” he said. “It really creates access, and it is so future-looking, because it represents a commitment to tomorrow.”