Northeastern State University
Former names
Northeastern State Normal School (1909–1921)
Northeastern State Teachers College (1921–1939)
Northeastern State College (1939–1974)
Northeastern Oklahoma State University (1974–1985)[1]
Cherokee: ᎦᏟᏐᏗ. ᎢᏅ ᎠᎾᎩᏍᏗ.
Motto in English
Gather Here. Go Far.
TypePublic university
EstablishedMarch 6, 1909; 115 years ago (1909-03-06)[2]
Parent institution
Regional University System of Oklahoma
PresidentRodney Hanley
ProvostDeborah Landry
Academic staff
Students8,548 (Fall 2014)[3]
Undergraduates7,418 (Fall 2014)[3]
Postgraduates1,130 (Fall 2014)[3]
Location, ,
United States

35°55′30″N 94°58′03″W / 35.925100°N 94.967542°W / 35.925100; -94.967542
Campus200 acres (0.81 km2) (Tahlequah)
ColorsNSU green and gray[4]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIThe MIAA
MascotRowdy the RiverHawk

Northeastern State University (NSU) is a public university with its main campus in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The university also has two other campuses in Muskogee and Broken Arrow as well as online. Northeastern is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Oklahoma as well as one of the oldest institutions of higher learning west of the Mississippi River.[5] Tahlequah is home to the capital of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and about 25 percent of the students at NSU identify themselves as American Indian.[6] The university has many courses focused on Native American linguistics, and offers Cherokee language Education as a major.[7] Cherokee can be studied as a second language, and some classes are taught in Cherokee for first language speakers as well.[8]


On May 7, 1851, the Cherokee Nation founded the Cherokee National Female Seminary at Tahlequah, the same year that it opened a male seminary in its territory. This was after its removal to Indian Territory and part of its building institutions to support its future.

On March 6, 1909, after statehood, the State Legislature of Oklahoma passed an act providing for the creation and location of Northeastern State Normal School at Tahlequah, Oklahoma for the training of teachers. For this purpose, it purchased from the Cherokee Tribal Government the building, land, and equipment of the Cherokee Female Seminary.

In 1921, the name was changed to Northeastern State Teachers College as it had expanded to a full four-year curriculum.[6] In the 1950s Northeastern emerged as a comprehensive state college, broadening its curriculum at the baccalaureate level to encompass liberal arts subjects and adding a fifth-year program designed to prepare master teachers for elementary and secondary schools.

With addition of graduate-degree programs, in 1974, the Oklahoma Legislature authorized changing the name of the institution from Northeastern State College to Northeastern Oklahoma State University; in 1985 it authorized a change in name to Northeastern State University. In 1979, NSU opened its College of Optometry, making it one of 14 schools in the United States to offer a doctorate degree in that field.[6]

In the early 21st century, NSU is the fourth-largest university in Oklahoma.[9] On March 6, 2009, NSU celebrated its centennial with Founders Day celebrations.


Tahlequah campus

The Tahlequah campus, which spans over 200 acres (0.81 km2), was developed on the grounds of the Cherokee Female Seminary. The original building for the seminary is now used as Seminary Hall, an academic building. The campus has numerous classroom, laboratory, residential, and athletic facilities. In recent years the university constructed a $10 million Science Center, funded by a bond issued by the university.[11]

NSU offers 69 undergraduate degree programs, 18 graduate degree programs, and 13 pre-professional programs in five colleges (Business & Technology, Liberal Arts, Education, Optometry, and Health & Science Professions). The student-to-faculty ratio is 26 to 1, and in the Spring of 2008 the total enrollment for the Tahlequah Campus was 6,216.[12] There is also a distance-learning program, by which students who cannot attend the university due to work or family obligations can complete courses via the Internet or videoconferencing.

Seminary Hall
The W. Roger Webb Educational Technology Center


Main article: Northeastern State RiverHawks

See also: Northeastern State RiverHawks football and Doc Wadley Stadium

The Northeastern State (NSU) athletic teams are called the RiverHawks.[13] The university is a member of the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) for most of its sports since the 2012–13 academic year;[14][15][16] while its men's soccer team competes in the Great American Conference (GAC). The RiverHawks previously competed as an NCAA D-II Independent during the 2011–12 school year; in the D-II Lone Star Conference (LSC) from 1997–98 to 2010–11; and in the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference (OIC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1974–75 to 1996–97.

NSU competes in 11 intercollegiate sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, football, golf and soccer; while women's sports include basketball, golf, soccer, softball, spirit squads and tennis.


In 2003, the men's basketball team won the NCAA Division II National Championship, beating Kentucky Wesleyan 75–64.[17]

Name change

Northeastern State University announced on May 23, 2006, that they would be dropping "Redmen" and selecting a new mascot. The change was made proactively in response to the 2005 NCAA Native American mascot decision.[18] The university announced its new athletic name as the RiverHawks on November 14, 2006.[13]

Campus life

The Iguana Cafe, right next to campus.

Campus organizations

There are several campus organizations such as NAB (Northeastern Activities Board), NSUSF (Northeastern State University Student Foundation), and NSGA (Northeastern Student Government Association) that provide alternate activities, usually free of charge for students to enjoy on campus. The NSGA is the official organization to represent the students of NSU. The purpose of the NSGA is to establish a representative student government and to provide a forum for student's views and ideas for the purpose of promoting and representing the students of NSU. RHA caters to on-campus residents and hosts such annual events as "Welcome Week Luau," Freshman Move-in Day, Mardi Gras, and "Resident Round-up". Northeastern State University also has several fraternities and sororities located on the Tahlequah campus.

Greek life

Rho Theta Sigma est. 1920's


Jazz Lab

Created in 1993, the Jazz Lab building serves as a place where jazz musicians can practice performing and listeners can enjoy live music. In addition to a performance venue, the Jazz Lab is also the site of the jazz program offices and classes. The university offers a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a major in Jazz Studies and has two student jazz ensembles, as well as several different combo groups ranging in style from fusion to Latin to straight ahead. The NSU Jazz Ensemble performs with regional, national, and international guest artists at the Jazz Lab every year. Many famous musicians have performed at the Jazz Lab since its creation, including T.S. Monk, Henry Johnson, Diana Krall, Mulgrew Miller, Bobby Watson, Bob Mintzer, Slide Hampton, Robin Eubanks, Wynton Marsalis, and Bobby Shew.

Branch campuses


NSU's Muskogee campus was opened in 1993 as a 27,700-square-foot (2,570 m2) facility located on 23 acres (93,000 m2). The campus offers upper-level and graduate courses in education, business, general studies, nursing, and industrial management.[19] In 2001 the NSU Muskogee opened the Mike Synar Center in honor of Mike Synar, former U.S. Congressman from the 2nd District of Oklahoma from 1979 to 1995. The Mike Synar Center is a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) facility that is used for offices and classrooms. The center also houses the Master of Business Administration and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program for the campus.

Broken Arrow

NSU's Broken Arrow campus was opened in 2002 with a little over 1,000 students. Funding for the campus came from a one-half percent sales tax which was approved by Broken Arrow voters. The first phase of the campus included an administration building, a maintenance facility, and two classroom buildings.[20] In 2004 the campus began a $26 million expansion made possible by Tulsa County's Vision 2025, which also funded Tulsa's new BOK Center. The expansion doubled the size of the campus and also allowed room for up to another 5,000 students. It also added a library along with science and classroom buildings. Construction was completed in the fall of 2007.[20]

Notable alumni

Main article: List of Northeastern State University alumni


  1. ^ "OUR HERITAGE". Northeastern State University. Retrieved December 7, 2022.
  2. ^ "NSU's Heritage | Northeastern State University". Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Higher Learning Commission".
  4. ^ Northeastern State University Graphic Standards (PDF). Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  5. ^ "General Information". NSU. Archived from the original on August 28, 2009. Retrieved February 20, 2008.
  6. ^ a b c Agnew, Brad. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Northeastern State University."[1] Archived November 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ + auElement.html() +. "NSU, Cherokee Nation Partner to Train and Hire Language Instructors -". Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  8. ^ "Cherokee". Ethnologue.
  9. ^ "About NSU". NSU. Archived from the original on January 28, 2008. Retrieved February 20, 2008.
  10. ^ "Tadlock named as NSU interim president". NSU. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  11. ^ "Grand Opening Set For NSU Science Center". NSU. Retrieved January 28, 2008.
  12. ^ "Opening Enrollment Data". NSU. Retrieved April 8, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ a b "It's Official – It's the NSU RiverHawks". NSU. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
  14. ^ Corbitt, Ken (August 23, 2012). "Newcomers add strength to rugged MIAA". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  15. ^ Toppmeyer, Blake (July 6, 2010). "Commentary: What a 16-member MIAA would mean - Maryville, MO". Maryville Daily Forum. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  16. ^ Toppmeyer, Blake. "MIAA adds 2, more on horizon - Maryville, MO". Maryville Daily Forum. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  17. ^ "Redmen go 9-for-14 from 3-point range in second half - Men's College Basketball - ESPN". March 29, 2003.
  18. ^ "NSU Announces Plans to Find a New Mascot". NSU. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
  19. ^ "Other NSU Campuses". NSU. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008.
  20. ^ a b "Northeastern State University - Broken Arrow". NSU. 1996–2012. Archived from the original on August 30, 2011. Retrieved July 24, 2012.