The History of USAO page 2


In January 1911, James Alexander Moore of Alabama became the second president and reorganized the curriculum on a junior college basis. Political and financial problems plagued President Moore from the beginning and he was asked to resign. In May 1912, Dr. Jonas Cook of Chickasha was appointed temporary president. He set up his office  in a tent in front of the administration building while President Moore guarded his office with a shotgun. To arbitrate the situation, R. H. Wilson, State Superintendent of Schools, became acting president to give OIICG three official presidents at one time. The problem was resolved before anyone was shot and Dr. J. B. Eskridge was appointed the third president of the institution later in 1912.


During the second term of the school, classes continued to meet off campus while the administration building was under construction. It was completed in 1911 with the original $100,000 legislative appropriation.

The three-story structure, which still dominates the campus today, was constructed of pressed brick and stone. The 200-foot by 142-foot building contained not only the classrooms and dormitory, but also the assembly hall, dining room, kitchen, and gymnasium.


Enrollment had jumped to 282 in 1912 with the opening of the official campus building. Due to the demand for housing, the legislature appropriated $50,000 in 1913 to construct the first dormitory. It was named in honor of Nellie Sparks and housed 76. Following a $100,000 addition to the hall in 1919, the occupancy rate was 210.


Following a probate judge's sentencing of an incorrigible young woman to Chickasha's "industrial institute" in 1912, the Board of Regents for the school changed the name from OIICG to Oklahoma College for Women. This name became the official name of the institution in 1916 by an act of the state legislature.


The first college catalog gave the motto of the school as "Not for livelihood but for life." It further stated, "The school will seek not only to improve the intellect and morals of the girls, but will strive in every way to prepare them for homemakers, leaders in social, civic, industrial and educational affairs. Through the influence of this literary and industrial education combined, and through the cultivation of the useful arts and esthetic graces, the college hopes to bring to the home with their future arbiters, not only economy, comfort and convenience, but harmony, culture and refinement."


In 1914, Dr. George Washington Austin arrived to become the fourth president. He set up a 25-year plan to develop the school into a four-year baccalaureate degree granting institution. It was during the period of 1914 until Dr. Austin's death 12 years later that OCW developed into an accredited and recognized liberal arts college and a preparatory school was abolished. Faculty was increased to 40 in number and had more academic training. The student body continued to grow and in 1920 totaled 501.

Political interference in college affairs was becoming less each year. The college administration and Board of Regents were given a free hand in raising the standards of the school. Legislative support continued with an appropriation of $178,550 during the 1920 academic year.

The philosophy of the school had been broadened.  It was restated in the catalog in this manner: "Oklahoma College for Women is offering a combination of both classic and technical education designed to meet the particular needs of women alone. Training for both head and hand is the dominant idea, and the object of every endeavor is to give young women of Oklahoma a well-rounded education that shall equip them for usefulness in every walk of life."

Dr. Austin awarded the college's first two degrees in 1915 and awarded 62 at the last commencement before his death. The legislature appropriated $323,500 for campus construction over three years, beginning in 1918. In 1919, the fine arts building, another residence hall and the president's home were constructed. The home economics and science buildings and a new heating plant were built in 1921 and the campus was complete for a time.

It was during 1919 that the college was removed from the control of the State Department of Education and placed under a separate Board of Regents. In 1920 the school earned accreditation from the North Central Association.  Preparatory classes ended in 1926, as public schools had been strengthened throughout the state.

In 1927 Dr. M.A. Nash became the fifth president. He continued to build the school both internally and externally. In 1929 the college earned the recognition of the American Association of University Women and became a member of the American Association of Colleges and Universities.

Plans from Dr. Nash for the construction of a physical education building were met with a cool reply from the governor. He sent a message back to the campus: "Girls should exercise out of doors and swim at Shanoan Springs." However, in 1928, the physical education building and Anthony Hall (the front portion of the student union) were completed. Each year for several years new construction was added to the campus: 1920 -Willard Hall; 1930 - the home management house; 1931 - Mary Lyon Hall; 1933 - the riding stables; 1935 - Canning Hall, Lawson Hall, Robertson Hall and a nursery school; 1936 - the college cabin; and in 1939 - Addams Hall. Also during this period, the campus had grown from the original 20 acres to 49 acres on the main campus and had acquired a 150-acre college farm.

Dr. Nash resigned in 1943 to become the first chancellor of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, a new board appointed to oversee the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education.  Nash was chancellor from 1943-1961. He died May 10, 1981.

Succeeding him, Dr. C. Dan Procter became the sixth president of the college. During his tenure the building program of the college continued. The new student union building was dedicated in 1948 and the local Rotary Club hosted a statewide meeting of 500 Rotarians as the first community event in the new building.  In 1950 the construction of the $500,000 library was completed and named in honor of Dr. Nash.

In 1951 a $500,000 addition to the fine arts building was completed with the addition of a theatre, recital hall and classrooms. This was followed by a $200,000 renovation of Austin Hall, a $200,000 renovation of Sparks Hall and the building of Gary Hall in 1957 at a cost of $400,000.

In 1954 the Jane Brooks School for the Deaf was brought to the campus and housed in Willard Hall to augment the speech and hearing therapy department program. It has since moved into its own facility in Chickasha.

Following the resignation of Dr. Procter to enter private business in 1958, Dr. Freeman Beets was appointed the seventh President of the University.

He served until 1961, followed by Dr. Kenneth Young, dean of the college, who served as acting president for four months. In January, 1962, Dr. Charles Grady became the eighth president and served until June 1966.  Dr. H. B. Smith, Jr., chairman of the education department, was appointed acting president during the 1966-67 academic year.


In 1965, due to the decline in the popularity of exclusive women's colleges, enrollment had slumped at Oklahoma College for Women. The state legislature mandated that the University be reorganized to create a new, coeducational, liberal arts college of distinction.

On July 7, 1965, Senate Joint Resolution No. 16, of the Thirtieth Oklahoma Legislature, officially changed the name of Oklahoma College for Women to Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts. With this change came an extensive self-study to determine the future direction of the institution.

The statement of philosophy outlined a new direction through the expansion of the liberal arts concept. It read in part, "OCLA dedicates itself to the total development of the individual student. It seeks, therefore, to encourage each student in the fullest possible realization of his intellectual and aesthetic abilities, his capacities as a person and as a member of society ... In all of its workings, the College seeks to develop individuals able to manage well the circumstances they meet each day, who possess judgment, courage, and honor and who are on the path toward self-realization."

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