Institutional Histories

Bacone College, Muskogee
Bacone College, established by the American Baptist Home Mission Society in 1880, is Oklahoma’s oldest continuing institution of higher education. Founded as Indian University in Tahlequah by Almon C. Bacone, a missionary Baptist teacher, the college moved in 1885 to its present 187-acre campus near Muskogee. Baptist layman John D. Rockefeller donated a $10,000 grant to construct its first permanent building. Acee Blue Eagle, a Pawnee-Creek artist, founded the Bacone School of Indian Art, a strong program in Native American art. The institution upgraded to four-year status in the 1990s.

Cameron University, Lawton
Cameron University was established in 1908 as the Cameron State School of Agriculture, an agricultural high school serving farm families. Named for E.D. Cameron, Oklahoma’s first State Superintendent of Instruction, the school added junior college coursework in 1927 and was renamed Cameron State Agricultural College. Growing demand by Lawton residents and Fort Sill personnel for more access to higher education led to the addition of baccalaureate programs in 1968. Known as Cameron University since 1974, the institution has expanded its offerings with graduate programs in 1988, a branch campus in Duncan in 2004, and online degrees available worldwide.

Carl Albert State College, Poteau

The Poteau Board of Education started Carl Albert State College as a municipal junior college in 1934. The institution shut down due to World War II in 1943, but it reopened to accommodate returning veterans under the G.I. Bill. In the early 1950s the name changed to Poteau Community College. The college and the high school shared the same facility until 1967, when the college purchased a separate campus. During the 1970s the institution became a member of the State System and its name changed to Carl Albert Junior College, now Carl Albert State College. The college serves 3,700 students on-campus and at a new branch campus in Sequoyah County.

Connors State College, Warner
Connors State College, located at Warner, was one of three Oklahoma district agricultural high schools established by the State Legislature in 1908. The college bears the name of John P. Connors, the first Chairman of the Oklahoma State Board of Agriculture. A new classroom building, constructed in 1911, is still in use today. In 1927, the school approved a lower-division program and the institution became Connors Junior College. In the 1970s the name changed to Connors State College. Since 1977, when the college began offering courses in Muskogee, the Muskogee program has expanded to include the historic Haskell Building and the Three Rivers Port Campus.

East Central University, Ada
In 1909, the Oklahoma Legislature established East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, as one of three State Normal Schools located in Indian Territory. The normal schools subsequently became accredited baccalaureate colleges, and in 1939 their names changed to reflect their functions. The Ada school became East Central State College. With the name change to East Central University in the 1970s, they added graduate education. The university has produced three state governors: Robert S. Kerr and George Nigh of Oklahoma and Ernest McFarland of Arizona. Outstanding programs include nursing, criminal justice, and entrepreneurship.

Eastern Oklahoma State College, Wilburton
Eastern Oklahoma State College originated in 1908 as the Oklahoma School of Mines and Metallurgy located at Wilburton, Oklahoma, in the San Bois and Winding Stair Mountains. In 1924, the institution phased out mining engineering and added teacher training. The school became Eastern Oklahoma College in 1927 and became Eastern Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1941. Finally, in 1972, the Oklahoma Legislature created a new governing board for the college and named it Eastern Oklahoma State College. It is now a comprehensive regional community college with a new branch campus in McAlester and outreach courses in Idabel.

Langston University, Langston
In 1897, the Territorial Assembly established Langston University as the Colored Agricultural and Normal University as a separate land-grant college under the 1890 Morrill Act. As its name suggests, the college served Oklahoma’s Black citizens in the areas of agricultural and mechanical education, teacher training, and university programs. Langston University has operated as an integrated institution since 1955. Langston adopted a new urban mission in the 1970s, and added branch campuses in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. In the 1990s, Langston added graduate education to the university's functions.

Murray State College, Tishomingo
The 1908 Oklahoma Legislature created Murray State College as one of three Oklahoma district agricultural high schools. Located in Tishomingo, the college's history intertwines with that of the Chickasaw Nation. In 1924, governance of the school passed to the State Board of Agriculture how granted junior college status. In 1971, Murray State College received its own governing board and given its present name. In 1973, the college began offering programs at Ardmore’s Higher Education Center. Since that time, it has developed into a comprehensive institution offering a full range of academic, technical, and distance learning programs.

Northeastern Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical College, Miami

Northeastern State University, Tahlequah
Northeastern State University dates back to 1846 when the Cherokee National Council established the National Male and Female Seminaries at Tahlequah. In 1909, the State of Oklahoma purchased the building, land, and equipment of the Female Seminary from the Cherokee Tribal Government and created Northeastern State Normal School. The normal schools awarded bachelor's degrees during the 1930s. In the 1950s, Northeastern added a fifth-year program for teachers. A program of Optometry started in the 1970s, and the institution became Northeastern State University in 1985. Branch campuses in Muskogee and Broken Arrow extend NSU's service to the area.

Northern Oklahoma College, Tonkawa
Northern Oklahoma College opened in 1901 as University Preparatory School, designed to prepare high school students for entrance to the University of Oklahoma. Nicknamed “Little Harvard on the Plains,” the institution operated unofficially as the Oklahoma Institute of Technology from 1913-1915. Closed in 1917, it reopened in 1919. In 1941, its name changed to Northern Junior College, and in 1965, it became Northern Oklahoma College. Using Section 13 and New College funds, Northern purchased the Phillips University site at Enid as a branch campus in 1999. The college now enrolls more than 4,000 students at its two locations.

Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Alva
Northwestern Oklahoma State University opened in 1897 at Alva as Northwestern Normal School. President James E. Ament and two teachers made up the first faculty, with classes meeting in the Congregational Church. In 1899, the “Castle on the Hill” was constructed. By 1939, all of the normal schools, including Northwestern State College, offered bachelor's degrees and were called state colleges. In the 1950s, Northwestern added a fifth-year program culminating in a master's degree. In 1974, the name changed to Northwestern Oklahoma State University. In 1996, branch campuses in Woodward and Enid expanded the university's useful service area.

Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee
The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, meeting in a session in Shawnee, Oklahoma founded Oklahoma Baptist University. In 1911, the first classes gathered in the basement of the First Baptist Church and in the Convention Hall of Shawnee. Since that time, the institution has grown into a campus of 189 acres with twenty-six major buildings. OBU is a senior-level institution with five major colleges offering ten baccalaureate degrees. Outstanding programs include religion, music, nursing, and business. The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma owns and supports the institution.

Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma City
Oklahoma Christian University opened as Central Christian College at Bartlesville in 1950. In 1958, the institution moved to Oklahoma City and became Oklahoma Christian College. It was renamed Oklahoma Christian University in 1990. The college garnered national attention with its technology-based Mabee Learning Center in the 1960s, and by converting its entire campus to wireless technology in the 1990s. Enterprise Square is a facility built as a tribute to entrepreneurship. Outstanding programs include religion, arts and sciences, and business including a Master of Business Administration program.

Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City Community College traces its roots to 1969, when a committee of the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce petitioned the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to establish a community junior college in the area. Originally called Capitol Hill Junior College, the institution first took the name South Oklahoma City Junior College. It opened formally in 1972 with an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, utilizing a competency-based curriculum with a non-traditional grading system. In 1983, the name of the college changed to Oklahoma City Community College. The institution at 7777 South May now serves more than 28,000 students each year.

Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City University began as Epworth University, founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1903, situated where Classen High School now stands, holding its first classes a year later. In 1911, Epworth closed, and assets transferred to Guthrie. In 1919, the college moved back to Oklahoma City and reopened under the name Oklahoma City College. In 1924, the name changed to Oklahoma City University. With bachelor's, masters, and professional curricula, Oklahoma City University is renowned for its music, dance, law, and business programs. OCU has produced three winners of the “Miss America” title: Jane Jayroe, 1967; Susan Powell, 1981; and Shawntel Smith, 1996.

Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Goodwell
Oklahoma Panhandle State University started in 1909 as Panhandle Agricultural Institute, whose function was to prepare students for admission to Oklahoma A&M College and the normal schools. In 1921, the school upgraded to junior-college status, and the name changed to the Panhandle Agricultural and Mechanical College, adding upper-division classes in the mid-1920s. In 1974, the name changed to Oklahoma Panhandle State University. The mission of OPSU is to provide higher education for people of the Oklahoma Panhandle and surrounding areas through academic programs, cultural enrichment, lifelong learning, and public service activities.

Oklahoma State University, Stillwater
Oklahoma State University began in Stillwater on December 25, 1890, as Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, two years after the “Run of 1889.” It was a state land-grant college under terms of the Morrill Act of 1863. Classes began in 1891, and the first academic building, Old Central, was occupied in 1894. In 1957, the institution became Oklahoma State University. OSU organized technical branches in Okmulgee in 1946 and in 1961 in Oklahoma City. In 1988, the Oklahoma College of Osteopathic Medicine became a constituent agency. OSU is a graduate and research university with an enrollment of 26,000 students on four campuses.

Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Bartlesville
Oklahoma Wesleyan University began in Bartlesville in 1959 as Bartlesville Wesleyan College, a four-year liberal arts institution affiliated with the Wesleyan Methodist Church, to provide higher education in a Christian environment for Wesleyan youth. The institution was the result of mergers that included Colorado Springs Bible College, Pilgrim Bible College at Pasadena, California, and Western Pilgrim College of El Monte, California. Continuing the tradition of constantly improving its antecedent colleges, Bartlesville Wesleyan College became Oklahoma Wesleyan University in 2001.

Oral Roberts University, Tulsa
Oral Roberts came to the offices of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education in the early 1960s and announced that he planned to build a new non-denominational college in Tulsa costing $100 million. In 1965, Oral Roberts University opened as a national, four-year liberal arts institution committed to a residential Christian setting. The curriculum of the university develops the whole person: physically, mentally, and spiritually. The ORU campus in Tulsa is visible for miles, highlighted by a 77-story office, medical, and research building.

Redlands Community College, El Reno
Redlands Community College opened in 1938 as El Reno Junior College, one of the “municipal junior colleges” authorized by the Oklahoma Legislature to offer grades 13 and 14 in local high schools. Before War II, approximately forty school districts had created such institutions. After the war, only five survived, one of which was El Reno Junior College. In 1968, the college became eligible for capital funds and established a new community college campus in western El Reno. In 1974, the junior college became an integral part of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education. It was renamed Redlands Community College in 1993. The college serves both urban (east) and rural (west) constituents with relevant academic and technical programs.

Rogers State University, Claremore
Rogers State University traces its roots to 1909, when it began as Eastern University Preparatory School at Claremore to prepare students for admission to “the State University or other institutions of higher education.” The college closed in 1917 but re-opened in 1919 as the Oklahoma Military Academy. OMA quickly gained recognition as one of the top junior college military academies in the nation. In 1971, the institution transformed into Claremore Junior College, which flourished as a coeducational college, offering academic, technical, and distance learning programs. In 1998, the college added upper-division work and became Rogers State University.

Rose State College, Midwest City
In 1968, the Oklahoma Legislature approved Rose State College as one of three new community junior colleges, named for Oscar Rose, founding superintendent of the Mid-Del School District. The people of Midwest City-Del City chose to fund the college at the local level, rather than wait for the state to appropriate money. The school district donated the property to start the new campus, and the college secured capital funding through the issuance of local technical school bonds and matching federal funds. The institution opened its doors in 1970 on a new campus, a first for an Oklahoma public college. Rose State College has served more than 200,000 students during its existence.

Seminole State College, Seminole
Seminole State College was one of approximately forty municipal junior colleges operated by local public school districts before World War II. Established in 1931, and functioned as a part of Seminole High School until 1969, when the State Regents approved its petition to become a community college. The community approved a $250,000 bond issue for capital construction and donated a forty-acre plot for a new campus. Elmer Tanner was the first president, followed by Gregory Fitch and James Cook. In 1997, James W. Utterback became the college's fourth president. It is now a comprehensive regional community college serving Seminole and surrounding counties.

Southern Nazarene University, Bethany
Southern Nazarene University, founded in 1899, is the third-oldest private liberal arts institution in Oklahoma. It is located at Bethany in western Oklahoma City, and maintains a separate Tulsa campus center for Adult Studies. The North Central Association of Colleges accredited the institution in 1955. In 1985, Southern Nazarene University added the Adult Studies program. Enrollment now exceeds 2,200, including seven graduate programs. Southern Nazarene University has received national recognition in the fields of teacher education, pre-med, physics, and music. Through its primary relationship to the Church of the Nazarene, Southern Nazarene University is the church at work in higher education, integrating faith, learning, and life.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant
In 1909, the Oklahoma Legislature created Southeastern State University at Durant as a normal school. Assigned a twelve-county region in the Choctaw Nation, it was one of three new schools authorized to train teachers for the Indian Territory. In 1939, the college was approved to offer bachelor's degrees in arts and science and was renamed Southeastern State College. In 1954, a Southeastern approved a Master of Teaching degree. Southeastern began granting associate degrees in 1968, and new programs multiplied in technology, aviation, conservation, and business. In 1974, the institution became Southeastern State University, adding other master's degrees in selected areas.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford
Southwestern Oklahoma State University at Weatherford opened as Southwestern Normal School in 1901. The first academic building was not ready at the opening of the 1903 fall term. Until 1904, the school used the vacant Anheuser Busch saloon for classes when construction was completed. In 1939, the name of the school changed to the Southwestern State College of Diversified Occupations, and two years later, it became the Southwestern Institute of Technology. Today, Southwestern Oklahoma State University offers a number of bachelor's and master's degrees at the home campus in Weatherford, along with a professional degree in Pharmacy. A branch campus is located in Sayre.

Tulsa Community College, Tulsa
The Oklahoma Legislature created Tulsa Junior College in 1968 and the school opened its doors in 1970 occupying three leased floors in the old Sinclair Oil Building. The college grew rapidly: in 1979, the Northeast Campus opened, and in 1984, the Southeast campus was completed. In 1996, Tulsa Junior College became Tulsa Community College, and the addition of the West Campus completed the college's 1970 plan of four campuses by the year 2000. Dean P. VanTrease replaced founding president Alfred M. Philips in 1989, and Thomas K. McKeon became the college's third president in 2005. Tulsa Community College currently serves more students than any college in northeastern Oklahoma.

University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond
The University of Central Oklahoma at Edmond was one of three institutions created by the Oklahoma Territorial Assembly in December of 1890, only twenty months after the Oklahoma “Run of '89.” Construction of the first campus building, Old North Tower, began in the summer of 1892 and the first classes started in Old North on January 2, 1893. In 1919, the name of the institution changed to Central State College, and training expanded to the bachelor's degree level. In 1954, Central State added a Master of Teaching degree, adding new master’s degree programs during the 1970s. The University of Central Oklahoma became the state's largest urban commuter institution in the 1980s.

University of Oklahoma, Norman
The Oklahoma Territorial Assembly established the University of Oklahoma at Norman on December 19, 1890. Using three rented rooms in downtown Norman, the University of Oklahoma held its first classes. Founding president David Ross Boyd and four teachers comprised the first faculty. From these small beginnings, the university has expanded to campuses in three cities with more than 32,000 students taught by 2,000 professors. The current operating budget now exceeds $1 billion annually. The university offers 147 majors at the baccalaureate level, 152 majors at the master's level, 80 majors at the doctoral level, 35 majors at the professional level, and eight graduate certificates.

University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, Chickasha
The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma at Chickasha is a successor institution to the Oklahoma College for Women, authorized by the first Oklahoma Legislature in 1908. Classes began in 1909. Oklahoma College for Women was one of three public institutions to offer a bachelor's degree before 1920, at which time it received regional accreditation. In 1965, the college became coeducational, and subsequently became the University of Science and Arts. USAO is on the National Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. U.S. News and World Report ranked USAO as the No. 1 public undergraduate college in the western United States.

University of Tulsa, Tulsa
The University of Tulsa began in 1882 as a Presbyterian mission school for Indian girls at Muskogee, Oklahoma. Alice Robertson, Oklahoma’s first Congresswoman, was on the school's faculty. By 1894, they reorganized the institution known as Henry Kendall College and moved to its present location in Tulsa. In 1921, the college became independent and was renamed The University of Tulsa. The humanities-based general curriculum stresses scientific, social, and artistic inquiry while developing oral and written communication. Graduate, professional and research programs support advanced theoretical development, promote professional preparation, and extend the university's international outreach.

Western Oklahoma State College, Altus
Western Oklahoma State College, established as Altus Junior College in 1926, is the oldest municipal two-year college in Oklahoma. In 1939, the college adopted as part of its mission the training of pilots to serve in World War II, and the college still maintains an active presence at Altus Air Force Base. In the mid-1970s, when Altus people purchased a new campus site, the institution became Western Oklahoma State College. Cecil Chesser, academic dean at WOSC from 1966 to 1988, and W.C. Burris, president from 1971 to 1990, are inductees of the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. The college's service area is comprised of five southwestern Oklahoma counties.