University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

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University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
Motto "College for the Curious Mind"
Established 1908
Type Public
Endowment $4,177,000
President John Feaver
Students 1,200
Location Chickasha, Oklahoma, USA
Campus Small Town
Colors Green and Gold         
Nickname Drovers
Affiliations Sooner Athletic Conference

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. It grants Bachelor's Degrees and many students move on to graduate schools across the nation. USAO was founded in 1908 as a school for women. Today, the school is coeducational and educates approximately 1,000 students. The school is also a member of COPLAC.


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, resulted in the foundation of the "Oklahoma Industrial Institute and College for Girls." The legislature subsequently appropriated $100,000 for the establishment of the initial buildings within the school.[1] A local rancher named J. B. Sparks donated land for the school in memory of his daughter, Nellie. The girl was a Chickasaw descendent, and the land had been part of her allotment. The Nellie Sparks Dormitory commemorated her.[2]

Over the next several decades, the school gained a focus on liberal arts education, awarding degrees in several fields of study. Additionally, deaf education became an increasingly important aspect of the university, as it remains today. With the decline of exclusively female universities throughout the nation, the school was pushed to become coeducational. The legislature did so in 1965, re-branding what had become known as "The Oklahoma College for Women" to the "Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts." [3]

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.[4] 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. With restructuring, however, came strife among the faculty.

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 began, including the erections of Gary and Austin Hall, along with renovations to Nash Library. Parking was expanded along 17th Street and with a new lot at 19th and Utah.[4] 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 seriously reworked.

In 2000, Dr. John Feaver became the university's twelfth president. 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.[4] New housing options were made available in the early 2000s in the form of the $13.1 million Lawson Court Apartment Complex. Historic markers were also added throughout the campus. Owens Flag Plaza, a centerpiece for the campus 'oval', was opened in 2004.


The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma is the state's public liberal arts college. Its mission is to provide the public with a distinctive and accessible liberal arts and sciences education. In combining an interdisciplinary core curriculum with superior instruction in major fields of study, USAO aims to provide a thorough education that prepares students for meaningful, purposeful lives.USAO's Mission Statement


USAO has adopted the following set of objectives consistent with its mission and the functions assigned by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education:

1. To provide an outstanding general education program for the State of Oklahoma with strong offerings in the liberal arts and sciences. This program will feature interdisciplinary team-teaching and will extend throughout the undergraduate experience.

2. To offer programs of study approved by the State Regents for Higher Education, culminating in the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees.

3. To offer a limited number of career, professional, and specialized degree programs which would be especially strengthened when combined with an interdisciplinary, liberal arts foundation.

4. To provide a learning environment suited to the needs of academically and artistically talented students while offering students the advantages of an interdisciplinary, liberal arts program.

5. To assemble a faculty whose interests, knowledge, and experiences transcend their specialized fields of graduate study and who are dedicated to liberal arts education.

6. To operate on a flexible trimester plan which will permit some students to complete a baccalaureate degree in three years and allow all students to progress in their academic programs at a rate which they desire.

7. To foster scholarly activities appropriate to the nature and the needs of the university.

8. To provide cultural, educational, and professional opportunities and services which enrich the university and the community.

Student Life[edit]

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. Affordability, modern renovations, and other amenities have made these options popular among students of all levels.[5]

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.


Professional Memberships[edit]


Austin Hall

Fourteen buildings on the USAO campus are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Oklahoma College for Women Historic District, a collection of PWA buildings designed by different prominent Oklahoma architects, including Solomon Andrew Layton and John Duncan Forsyth, among others.[6][7][8][9]


Housing at USAO

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.[10] It is also the only public college in Oklahoma to make their Best Values list.


USAO teams, nicknamed athletically as the Drovers, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country and soccer; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer and softball.

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.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Jefferies, Angie. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Chickasha." Retrieved March 8, 2013.[1]
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^
  6. ^ National Register of Historic Places - Grady County, Oklahoma (accessed March 16, 2010).
  7. ^ National Register Properties in Oklahoma: Oklahoma College for Women Historic District (accessed March 16, 2010).
  8. ^ The American Indian Arts and Humanities Project at USAO website (accessed March 16, 2010).
  9. ^ Jim Gabbert, "5 Buildings by John Duncan Forsyth", Preservation Oklahoma News, July 2006, p.5.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "McCormick excited to be part of community", Russellville Courier, May 7, 2003.
  12. ^ "USAO grad made name for himself in basketball", USAO Magazine, September 13, 2010.
  13. ^ Vincent Hogan, "Cinderella Man of Dublin", Irish Independent, November 28, 2008.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°01′53″N 97°57′17″W / 35.03139°N 97.95472°W / 35.03139; -97.95472