May 1, 2023, KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Oregon Tech and the Klamath Tribes renewed their memorandum of understanding (MOU) to further strengthen collaboration in academic support and access, financial assistance, cultural and social support, and research.
The renewed MOU was signed at a special ceremony Friday by Oregon Tech President Dr. Nagi Naganathan, Klamath Tribal Council Vice Chairwoman Gail Hatcher, and Klamath Tribes General Manager George Lopez. The original MOU was signed in 2017. At that time, both groups agreed to periodically review activities, performance, or satisfaction with memorandum focus areas and to evaluate additional collaboration opportunities.
Before the Friday signing, Naganathan, Hatcher, Oregon Tech Trustee Kathleen Hill, and 75th Anniversary Committee Co-chair Dr. Christopher Syrnyk helped plant a ceremonial chokecherry tree on campus. The event also included a round dance and honor song by the Klamath Tribes Youth Council.
The MOU meets the common purpose of helping people to better themselves through education, research, economic development, and other forms of personal enlightenment. It also provides a collaborative environment to make the respective communities prosperous with multiple opportunities for surrounding citizens.
“Today we celebrated our valued partnership and friendship with the Klamath Tribes and the 75 years Oregon Institute of Technology has been honored to reside in Klamath Falls,” President Naganathan said. “The tree we planted today represents our strengthened relationship with the Klamath Tribes. As this chokecherry tree grows, so will our partnership with the Klamath Tribes. I sincerely hope both develop strong roots and continue to flourish.”
The agreement focuses on the following areas:
Education: To ensure that qualified members of the Klamath Tribes have every opportunity to attend Oregon Tech in programs of their choosing. Both parties agree to work with Native American students to ensure they have the requisite academic, financial, cultural, and personal support to succeed in their academic endeavors.
Educational Access: Currently, Native American students are one of the most underrepresented groups in higher education due to limited resources and a lack of access to quality educational services. To boost access to higher education for Native Americans, Oregon Tech will assist Native American students in applying for financial support from federal, state, institutional, and other sources.
Education campaign: Preparing educational materials that explain Klamath history and the Klamath Tribes’ ongoing cultural and economic contributions to the state in coordination with the Tribes. Oregon Tech is committed to supporting and promoting campus events that bring Klamath Tribal heritage and Culture to the Oregon Tech community. The Tribes will assign a tribal representative to assist the university and the Native American Student Union in ensuring accurate representation and adherence to cultural standards. If possible, credit-bearing courses in Native American Culture and history will be developed and taught on campus.
Research: To work together to perform research projects to understand topics of mutual interest better, develop programs to address areas of need, and collaborate closely on research, intervention programs, reports, or dissemination of findings.
The Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Engagement at Oregon Tech will play a key role in implementing the Memorandum of Understanding. Parties from both groups will continue to meet annually and evaluate the areas to increase collaboration.
I lived on the mile high OTI campus from 1948 to 1964. One of the best basketball players I saw frequent the old gym was a Klamath Tribes member who earned the nickname of “Stormin Norman” he could outmaneuver most of the state’s players to hit the backboard with a layup. I believe his last name was John or Johns. OTI played some remarkable games in that old gym.