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East Central University leaders have been working collaboratively with local partners – the Chickasaw Nation and the U.S. EPA Robert S. Kerr Research Center - to discuss the launch of the Oka’ Institute, the new water science institute for water resource studies and programs at ECU. Oka’ is the Chickasaw and Choctaw word for water. The Oka’ Institute vision is to create practical water solutions both locally and globally, driven by research and directed by data that results in long-term sustainable ecological management and economic development. Pictured on the front row are: (left to right) Amanda Hill, representing U.S. Sen. James Lankford; Kara Best, head of the Environment, Health and Safety Department with the Chickasaw Nation; Dr. Ann Keeley, EPA branch chief; ECU President John R. Hargrave; Susan Paddack, ECU Foundation and Special Projects; Dr. Mary Gonsoulin, EPA branch chief and Richard Lowrance, EPA director. The back row (left to right) includes: Dr. David Jewett, EPA branch chief; Stephen Greetham CNDC, EO-general counsel; Duane Smith, consultant and former Oklahoma Water Resources board director; Kristopher Patton, water policy and planning manager for the Chickasaw Nation; Dr. Carl Gilbert, dean of ECU’s College of Health and Sciences; Dr. Randall Ross, EPA researcher and Dr. Guy Sewell, of the Oka’ Institute.



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