Stratton D. Brooks

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Stratton D. Brooks
Stratton D Brooks.png
Brooks as he appeared in the 1915 Sooner Yearbook
BornStratton Duluth Brooks
(1869-09-10)September 10, 1869
Everett, Missouri
DiedJanuary 18, 1949(1949-01-18) (aged 79)
Norman, Oklahoma
NationalityUnited States
OccupationEducator, Professor, School administration
Known forPresident, Oklahoma University (1912-1923)
President, University of Missouri (1924-1931)

Stratton Duluth Brooks (September 10, 1869 – January 18, 1949)[1] was the third president of the University of Oklahoma and eleventh president of the University of Missouri.

Early life[edit]

Stratton Brooks was born in 1869 in Everett, Missouri. At the age of two, he and his parents moved to Michigan where his father, Charles Brooks, was a Sheriff in Isabella Co. Michigan (1878–82) Stratton Brooks graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan class of 1887 [2] Brooks was educated at the University of Michigan and held a master's degree from Harvard University. Prior to being appointed president of the University of Oklahoma, he served as the first superintendent of LaSalle-Peru Township High School (1898-1899), located in LaSalle, Illinois. Additionally, Dr. Brooks served as superintendent of Boston public schools. He also spent three months in 1906 as the superintendent of the Cleveland, Ohio public school system.[3][a]

University of Oklahoma[edit]

When Brooks was first being courted for the position of OU president in 1911, he at first did not want the position. It was seen as a fledging university and many on the East Coast were "still in shock" at the summary discharge of former president David Ross Boyd.[2] He wasn't approached again until 1912 while at a national superintendent's meetings in St. Louis, Missouri. He was approached by William A. Brandenberg who was a member of the new Oklahoma State Board of Education. Again, Brooks refused the job but Brandenberg continued to pursue telling him that the Board desired to keep politics out of the selection process. Brooks still refused but gave advice on how to keep politics out of the process by saying that only the university president could appoint faculty and that the Board should have nothing to do with the administration of the university.[2] Eventually, the Board agreed to these guidelines and was able to convince Brooks to accept the position. Brooks later said that, "Whatever was accomplished during my eleven years as president of the University, was possible only because the Board of Education that appointed me, and its successors, never violated the basic principles set forth in that first conference."[2]

President Brook's inauguration in 1912 in front of Evans Hall.

Brooks was inaugurated as president of the university in the spring of 1912. He immediately set to rebuilding the university. He found that many of Oklahoma's own citizens (over 1,500) were sending their children to out of state colleges.[2] He immediately went about strengthening the faculty but he did not fire one individual brought in because of political connections if he was a good teacher. At the university, Brooks established a permanent faculty salary, sabbatical leave, and permanent tenure.[2] He also acquired land around the university where the stadium and armory now stand. Brooks had a great reputation with the Board of Education (now the Board of Regents) and the Oklahoma legislature. During his years as president, many building were constructed around campus.

Accomplishments during WWI[edit]

Brooks' was also OU's first wartime president, have served during the duration of World War I. He made many efforts to see that the university was at the forefront of preparedness for all war needs. He imposed strict food regulations on the university and he established thirteen courses in seven different departments for the direct purpose of "training soldiers, training men who expect to become soldiers, and training people who take the place of soldiers in civil life."[4] Some of these courses included: wire telegraphy, wireless telegraphy, stenography and shorthand, oxyacetylene welding, orthopedic surgery, military field engineering, and first aid courses. Students under 21 were required to take special courses in the Student Army Training Corps. Barracks, an infirmary, bathhouse, guardhouse, and canteen were constructed. By the latter part of 1918, the university was practically a military base.[4] All in all, 30 faculty members, 500 alumni, and 1,875 students were in military service during the war.

End of the line at OU[edit]

Brooks' situation changed dramatically after John C. ("Jack") Walton was elected Governor of Oklahoma in 1922. Gone was the close working relationship he had with previous governors. Walton felt that Brooks was not enthusiastic about promoting the new governor's political agenda. Some of Walton's political advisors felt that the university was a hotbed of anti-Walton supporters. Edwin DeBarr, the OU vice president, had openly supported Walton's rival in the primary. After both Brooks and the Board of Regents had written letters to the members of OU's faculty, cautioning them against taking part in the upcoming election campaign, DeBarr continued to take an active political role, making fiery speeches supporting Walton's rival for the governorship, Robert H. Wilson, the state superintendent of education.[5][b]

Walton, the Democratic nominee easily defeated Wilson, the Republican, in the general election of November, 1922, and was inaugurated in January, 1923. In May 1923, he abruptly dismissed four of the five existing regents from the board and replaced them with reliable supporters of himself and his agenda. The board quickly proceeded to terminate DeBarr's employment.[c]

Walton then retaliated against Brooks, whose son-in-law was then president of the Oklahoma School of Mines in Miami, Oklahoma. Although Brooks openly hoped the young man could remain undisturbed in that position, Walton abruptly replaced him with a supportive legislator from Ottawa County. Then, Brooks voted against Walton's nomination of another supporter to become superintendent of vocational agriculture. Walton became furious with Brooks, and again replaced the occupants of the state board. That day, the Daily Oklahoman printed the story with the headline, "Brooks' Neck Expected to Feel the Ax Next." Walton explained his action to the press, "...the educational system must be removed as far as possible from political maneuvering,...(T)he university organization has been used against me by Yankee republicans and I believe that it should be in democratic hands."[5], pp. 74-76.</ref>

University of Missouri[edit]

The University of Missouri (UM) previously had indicated to Brooks that it would like to have him take the job as president. He had previously rejected the interest, because he had become interested in continuing in Norman. Besides, his wife loved the place, and even told him once that that was the place where she hoped to be buried after death.[5], pp. 74-76.</ref>

Regarding Walton's replacement of the regents, Brooks realized that he had no future in Oklahoma without top-level political support. He called UM and asked if the presidency was still open. The answer was ,"Yes." He travelled to Missouri to meet with the school officials. The next day, he received a formal job offer with an annual salary of $12,500.[d] He gave them his verbal acceptance. When he got home he wrote a one-sentence letter of resignation to one of the regents, which was immediately accepted.

The Brooks family bade goodby to Oklahoma. Within six months, the Oklahoma legislature had enough of Walton's arbitrary behavior and roughshod power plays. They passed articles of impeachment and removed him from the Governor's office.[5]

The budgetary problems Brooks faced at UM were much the same as those he left in Oklahoma. At least the school had not developed into quite as big a mess as OU had when he arrived in Norman. Still, a bizarre incident in 1931 derailed his career. Some sociology professors allowed release of a "sex survey" that most of the regents and ordinary citizens found offensive to their social views. Brooks saw the document, which he called "sewer psychology" and wanted to fire the faculty members who had authorized sending it out without his prior approval. The American Association of University Professors joined in the uproar. The regents then blamed Brooks for misleading them and creating a national scandal. Unable to defend himself, he resigned, and moved to Kansas City, so that UM could find a new leader. [5]

Later life and subsequent death[edit]

Looking for something very different to do, he accepted the job as president of the Order of DeMolay, a Masonic institution for young men. When his wife died in 1941, Stratton Brooks brought her body back to Norman for burial. He remained in Norman until his own death on January 18, 1949, after which, he was interred beside her.[5]


  1. ^ A thesis for the Master's Degree in Education, available as a pdf document.
  2. ^ According to Professor Levy's history of Oklahoma University, Walton was vigorously opposed to the growing political power of the Ku Klux Klan, while both DeBarr and Wilson were active members of the KKK. [5], pp. 65-66.
  3. ^ DeBarr's was removed from his tenured professorship, his office as vice president was abolished, and he was put on permanent leave of absence without pay, effective July 1, 1923. Levy says that "everyone understood that DeBarr was not to return to the University after his 'unpaid leave of absence.'"[5], pp. 70-71.
  4. ^ At the time he was receiving $10,000 per year from OU.[5], pp. 74-76.</ref>


  1. ^ Missouri Secretary of State, Missouri Death Certificates 1910-1956
  2. ^ a b c d e f Keith, Harold (February 1949). "Dr. Stratton D. Brooks, 1869-1949" (PDF). Sooner Magazine. pp. 7–11. Retrieved 2006-06-30.
  3. ^ Ptacek, Ted W. A Comprehensive Study of the Growth and Development of the Cleveland, Ohio, Public School System.p. 123. Kansas State Teachers College. Emporia, Kansas. May 1934.] Accessed November 17, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Long, Charles F. (September 1965). "With Optimism For the Morrow: A History of The University of Oklahoma". Sooner Magazine.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i [Levy, David W. The University of Oklahoma: A History, Vol. II, 1917-1950. p. 66. 2015. ISBN 978-0-8061-4903-5. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman, Oklahoma. Accessed September 4, 2018.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
A. Grant Evans
President of the University of Oklahoma
Succeeded by
James S. Buchanan
Preceded by
John Carleton Jones
President of the University of Missouri
Succeeded by
Walter Williams