University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
|University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma|
|Motto||"College for the Curious Mind"|
|Location||Chickasha, Oklahoma, USA|
|Colors||Green and Gold|
|Affiliations||Sooner Athletic Conference|
Oklahoma College for Women Historic District
|Location||Roughly bounded by Grand Ave., 19th St., Alabama Ave., and alley west of 15th St., Chickasha, Oklahoma|
|Area||50 acres (20 ha)|
|Architectural style||Classical Revival, Mission/spanish Revival, et.al.|
|NRHP Reference #||01000950|
|Added to NRHP||September 9, 2001|
The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, or USAO, is a public liberal arts college located in Chickasha, Oklahoma. It is the only public college in Oklahoma with a strictly liberal arts-focused curriculum and is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. USAO is an undergraduate-only institution and grants Bachelor's Degrees in a variety of subject areas. The school was founded in 1908 as a school for women and from 1912 to 1965 was known as Oklahoma College for Women. It became coeducational in 1965 and today educates approximately 1,000 students. In 2001, the entire campus was listed as a National Historic District.
After Oklahoma was admitted to statehood in 1907, the new state legislature was tasked with establishing institutions of higher education. Statistics gathered by the State Superintendent of Education showed that many young women from Oklahoma chose to attend women's colleges in Kansas, Texas, and Missouri. Colonel J.T. O'Neil, the state senator from Grady County, and his daughter, Anne Wade O'Neil, who had graduated from a women's college in Mississippi, appealed to the legislature to authorize the creation of a women's college. The University was founded on May 16, 1908, with the signing of Senate Bill 249 by Governor Charles Haskell. The bill, authored by Senator N.P. Stewart of Hugo, Oklahoma, authorized the foundation of the Oklahoma Industrial Institute and College for Girls. The legislature subsequently appropriated $100,000 for the establishment of the initial buildings for the school.
A local rancher named J. B. Sparks donated land for the school in memory of his daughter, Nellie. Nellie was a Chickasaw descendent, and the land had been part of her allotment. The Nellie Sparks Dormitory, which was among the first buildings constructed at the new institution, was named in her honor. In 1912, the school's authorities renamed the school Oklahoma College for Women. This came about because a probate judge, under the mistaken impression that the "Industrial Institute" was a reform school, sentenced an "incorrigible young woman" to serve time there. This name change was made official by the State Legislature in 1916. The school initially offered high school and college-level work but gradually shifted its focus to college only; by the 1925-1926 school year, only college classes were offered. Though the school's original name implied strictly industrial training, over the next couple decades, the school gained a focus on a broad liberal arts education. By 1930, it was awarding degrees in many different fields of study, including art, English, history, music, several languages, natural and physical sciences, philosophy, home economics, and physical education. The deaf education program increased in size and statewide recognition; today, it continues to be one of the University's important programs.
By the mid-1960s, exclusively female universities were declining throughout the nation. The legislature made the school coeducational in 1965 and simultaneously renamed it Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts. Under the direction of the ninth President, Robert L. Martin, the university switched to a system of three equal trimesters. In an attempt to attract students interested in vigorous academics, this offered an opportunity for advanced students to quickly move through their studies and graduate early. During this period the Alumni Association became active, donating funds for the building of an on-campus chapel. Other buildings housing classrooms, including Davis Hall, were also built around this time. Dr. Bruce G. Carter took over administrative duties as President in 1972. Under his direction, the school advanced a system of night classes for local adult learners. New scholarships for Freshmen were also made available. Soon after Dr. Carter took office, the legislature moved to rename all public institutions of higher education in the state under a new system: 2-year institutions would be known as "colleges" and 4-year institutions would be known as "universities." This led directly to OCLA's new and current name: the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.
Over the next several years, several construction projects were completed, including renovations to Gary, Austin, and Davis Halls and Nash Library. Serious construction continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in the opening of a newly remodeled $2.2 million Student Center in 1998. Sparks Hall, the traditional dormitory on campus, was also greatly renovated.
In 2000, Dr. John Feaver became the university's twelfth president. In 2001, the National Park Service approved the listing of the entire campus as a National Historic District, the only educational institution in the state to hold such an honor. Historic markers throughout the campus document describe the various historic buildings. New housing options were made available in the early 2000s in the form of the $13.1 million Lawson Court Apartment Complex. Owens Flag Plaza, a centerpiece for the campus 'oval', was opened in 2004.
Fourteen buildings on the USAO campus are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Oklahoma College for Women Historic District. Many are Public Works Administration buildings designed by different prominent Oklahoma architects, including Solomon Andrew Layton and John Duncan Forsyth.
As the state of Oklahoma's public liberal arts college, USAO's mission is to provide the public with a distinctive and accessible liberal arts and sciences education. The academic program centers on a required 46 hour Interdisciplinary Studies Core Curriculum, which is a prescribed set of courses that encompass history, science, art, mathematics, literature, philosophy, economics, art and theatre. Many of these classes are team-taught by two or more instructors in order to encourage interdisciplinary learning. The Core Curriculum Courses are distributed throughout a student's four years at USAO, culminating in a Senior Seminar class and completion of an interdisciplinary research project. While working through the core curriculum, students simultaneously pursue traditional majors in a variety of subject areas. USAO offers 22 majors and several pre-professional programs. The University is organized into four divisions: Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences and Business, Science and Physical Education, and Education and Speech-Language Pathology.
The University operates on a trimester schedule, which makes it possible for a full-time student to complete a degree in three years or fewer. An additional five-week "independent study" period in late April and May is used for educational trips within the U.S. and internationally, creative projects, and special topics courses.
The University has been accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1920. Its education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The Deaf Education program is accredited by the Council on Education of the Deaf. The music department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.
The University is a member of several organizations of colleges and universities. These include the American Council on Education, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the American Association of Governing Boards, and the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.
USAO has been rated as one of the best public comprehensive baccalaureate colleges in the western half of the United States for five of the past six years by US News and World Report. It is also the only public college in Oklahoma to make their Best Values list. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni gave USAO an A rating as part of its What Will They Learn? initiative, which rates colleges on an A-F scale based on the comprehensiveness of their core curricula. USAO was the only school in Oklahoma and one of only 23 schools nationwide to receive an A rating.
The majority of students live on campus, in one of USAO's two housing options: Sparks Hall and Lawson Court. The former is traditional dormitory style living and the latter is apartment style living available to all students.
Students participate in roughly fifty organizations ranging from political advocacy groups to student government. They are also served by the University's century-old newspaper "The Trend." A few sororities and fraternities do operate on campus, along with several honor groups. The Student Government and Student Activities Board plan events for all students and guests throughout the year, including the annual "Droverstock" art and music festival.
USAO's intercollegiate athletics program began in 1973. The teams' nickname, the Drovers, refers to the history of cattle-driving through Chickasha. The school competes in the Sooner Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country and soccer. Women's sports include softball, basketball, cross country, and soccer.
The men's basketball team has won the NAIA Conference title four times, appeared in the National Tournament five times, and won the National Championship in 2002. The Lady Drovers' basketball team played in the NAIA Final Four in 2003. The men's soccer program is also strong, with the Drovers having won the Conference Title six times, appeared in the National Tournament twice and made the NAIA National Quarterfinals in 2010. The Lady Drovers' soccer team has also been the 2006 Tourney Qualifier. Baseball and Softball are both popular sports on campus, with the Lady Drovers' Softball team being National Tourney Qualifiers three years in a row.
- Famed Chickasaw storyteller Te Ata (Mary Thompson) graduated from OCW in 1919.
- Lotsee Patterson, founder of the American Indian Library Association graduated from OCW in 1959.
- Rick McCormick '79, college basketball coach, won NJCAA Men's Division III Basketball Championship in 2001 at Cedar Valley College
- Former Miss America Norma Smallwood was the first Native American to win the title.
- Irish professional boxer Oisin Fagan attended USAO on a soccer scholarship, and received a degree in journalism and physical education.
- Biochemist Gladys Anderson Emerson, the first person to isolate Vitamin E in a pure form and winner of the 1952 Garvan–Olin Medal for women in chemistry, graduated from OCW in 1925.
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- University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
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