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Greetings Campus Community,

Summer is in full swing at Oklahoma City University, which means orientation week and fall semester activities are just around the corner. I am pleased to report progress on several campus projects and delighted to announce the next guest lecturer in our Distinguished Speakers Series.

Energy Savings

We implemented the university's new campus-wide energy management plan July 1. The Facilities Department will take monthly readings to gauge savings over last year, and all resources saved will help fund additional energy conservation improvements.

I encourage you to work with the Green Team coordinator in your area to reduce energy usage, and share any ideas you have to conserve electricity, gas, or water with your coordinator or with the Facilities Department by contacting dasmith@okcu.edu.

Storm Damage Recovery

Water damage recovery from the May 31st storm is about 75 percent complete and work is moving on schedule. The two most-affected buildings, the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management and Sarkeys Law Center, are expected to completely reopen Aug. 1.

A tremendous thanks goes to our Facilities Department, as well as Trilink, FSB, and Beck & Associates, for their diligent work during the last six weeks.

Meinders School of Business Construction

Construction on two new executive classrooms at the Meinders School of Business is expected to be finished by the end of the month. The largest of the two classrooms will seat 60 students and both will provide enhanced learning spaces for our expanding graduate programs in energy management and energy legal studies.

Top 10

The Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management has again been recognized as one of the nation's best. Dance Reporter Sarah Badger selected our dance curriculum as the standout theater and jazz dance program in the country in her "Top Ten Dance Universities" article on Synonym.com. View the article here.

Distinguished Speakers Series

The founder of Interfaith Youth Core and author of "Acts of Faith" will be the next Distinguished Speaker on campus. Eboo Patel will give a free public lecture at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Freede Center. The presentation, titled "Sacred Ground: There is No Better Time to Stand Up for Your Values than When They are Under Attack," is co-sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance and OCU's Owen Wimberly Center for Continuing Education.

Patel will be the latest in a stellar lineup of world-class thinkers, writers, and opinion-leaders to address audiences at Oklahoma City University. Named by US News & World Report as one of America's Best Leaders of 2009, Patel is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based organization building the interfaith movement on college campuses. Author of the book "Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation," which won the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion, and his latest book "Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America," Patel is also a regular contributor to the Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, NPR, and CNN. He served on President Obama's inaugural Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University.

Two students and University Chaplain Rodney Newman recently took the opportunity to learn about Patel's goal of engaging diverse religious and non-religious identities to build interfaith movements on college campuses. They attended the Interfaith Leadership Institute at Loyola University in Chicago from June 21 to 23.

Religion junior Matt Patrick, a United Methodist student, along with Samer Abdelkader, a Muslim student and biology senior, said they appreciated the opportunity to be a part of the creative process of sharing their own stories and hearing others' stories of faith. Samer noted, "Throughout the weekend we met people coming from a diverse array of religious backgrounds, and took time to understand one another."

To learn more about interfaith efforts, join us Oct. 23 for an evening of academic enrichment.

I hope you are having a great summer. As always, send me your questions, comments, rebuttals, or great thoughts.