Gift to OCU establishes program on addiction
As Jack Turner thumbed through a newspaper, he found story after story with one common factor: the problem of addiction.
One solution: education.
Turner said he has been glad to see some progress in the last few years for treating the illness of addiction, but he believes little has been done to prevent addiction.
That’s why Turner, a member of OKC-St. Luke’s, recently made a $500,000 donation to fund a new program at Oklahoma City University.
Turner’s donation will be administered by the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation and will establish a five-year program in addiction prevention studies at OCU’s Petree College of Arts and Sciences, beginning in Fall 2011.
Dean Mark Davies said the university will work toward making the program permanent. The Oklahoma Conference’s Addiction Ministries also will be in a relationship with the program, explained Annette Harper, director of that agency.
"We’re family," she said about the interwoven efforts by OCU, the Foundation, and the Conference in battling addictions. She sees the new program as a great example of the Church’s connectional excellence.
Turner has served on two governor’s task forces regarding addiction and on the board for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service.
He wants to make Oklahomans more aware of how addiction adversely impacts the lives of thousands of Oklahomans, and the state’s economy as well.
"A lot of people don’t realize how critical the problem of addiction is and how many lives it affects," Turner said.
He pointed to a study, conducted for the most recent Governor’s Task Force, which found the economic impact of drug and alcohol addiction and abuse cost the state and its citizens as much as $4.38 billion in 2003. The findings also disclosed that, each year, more than 6,500 students in Oklahoma colleges and universities drop out because of problems related to addiction and abuse.
National studies reveal that as many as 85 percent of people in prison are there because of drug and alcohol addiction and abuse.
Turner met with Dr. Davies and OCU faculty members from various disciplines to discuss the new program for addiction prevention studies. He was impressed with their interest in the ever-increasing effect of addiction on students and society.
Turner said OCU, the only United Methodist university in the state, is charged to follow Christian teachings for helping the sick.
"That’s what the Church is called to do, and to do anything less than to get involved would be failure," he said. "There’s a lot of people to help out there."