Oklahoma City University
University crest
Former names
Epworth College (1904–1911)
Methodist University of Oklahoma (1911–1919)
Oklahoma City College (1919–1924)
MottoVeritas Ecclesia Cognitio
Motto in English
Truth, Church, and Knowledge
TypePrivate university
Established1904; 120 years ago (1904)
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church
Academic affiliations
Endowment$94.98 million[2]
PresidentKenneth R. Evans
Location, ,
United States
CampusUrban 104 acres (0.42 km2)
ColorsBlue and white[3]
Sporting affiliations
MascotStarsky the Ram
Oklahoma City University
NRHP reference No.78002247[4]
Added to NRHPDecember 19, 1978[5]

Oklahoma City University (OCU) is a private university historically affiliated with the United Methodist Church and located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The university offers undergraduate bachelor's degrees, graduate master's degrees and doctoral degrees, and is organized into eight colleges and schools and one Methodist seminary. More than 70 undergraduate majors are offered, as well as 20 graduate degrees, including a JD, MBA, MFA, and PhD in Nursing. An Adult Studies Program for working adults offers a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree. The university has approximately 3,000 students, including 1,200 graduate students.[6] The official school and athletic colors are blue and white.


Gold Star Memorial Building (School of Religion, Honors College, School of Theater ), an Oklahoma landmark

Early history

Postcard of Fort Worth University, 1908

Oklahoma City University began as Epworth University, a project by local developer Anton H. Classen, who sought to begin a Methodist university in conjunction with other development projects. Construction began in 1902 and the school opened in 1904, three years before statehood, with an enrollment of 100 students.[7] Anton Classen was heavily involved with development of early Oklahoma City and advanced the idea of a Methodist university in Oklahoma and helped spark the ideas of the Methodist Church to establish a Methodist university in Oklahoma. Construction began in 1902 and classes started in 1904 with enrollment growing by almost 100 students during that first year.[7]

Epworth closed in 1911 after the school ran into financial difficulties.[7] The church then formed Methodist University of Oklahoma in Guthrie, Oklahoma, which also absorbed a Methodist college in Texas, Fort Worth University.[8] Eventually, the school's trustees developed a plan to close the school in Guthrie and reopen in Oklahoma City.[7] The school opened in Oklahoma City as Oklahoma City College in 1919, bolstered by funding from Methodist congregations.[7] The college experienced rapid growth and changed its name to Oklahoma City University in 1924.[7] Despite the success and growth of the university in the 1920s, OCU again fell on hard times during the Great Depression.[7]

Post-war era

Dr. Cluster Smith became president of Oklahoma City University after the Great Depression. When the United States entered World War II, the school faced new challenges, including mounting debt and a need for new facilities.[7] Enrollment dipped during the war, as men left campus to enlist in the military. By 1942, the student body was 75 percent female. This created a shortage of players and funds causing many of the athletic programs, such as the football team, to end operations.[7] After the war,m enrollment increased dramatically and the university began a period of rapid development through the remainder of the 1940s.[7] In the 1950s, OCU received accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.[7] The university then took control of the Oklahoma City College of Law and began a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to elevate the academics and the quality of education.[7] The Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel was dedicated in 1968 as part of a plan to expand OCU's spiritual life.

In the mid-1970s, after nearly 25 years of steady growth, the university again fell on hard times. In 1976 United Methodist Bishop Paul Milhouse discussed the school's issues to the Annual Conference of Oklahoma United Methodist churches in Tulsa.[7] After requesting that people direct their prayers and pledges to the university, by 1980 the Methodist Church had raised more than $3 million.[7] Jerald Walker, an OCU alumnus, became president in 1979 and continued the university's growth stemming from the financial support from the Church. During his tenure as president facilities were improved, new academic programs were started and enrollment increased again. In 1981 it was announced that the university was out of debt and turned a surplus for the first time since 1975.[7] The university added the School of Religion and the nursing program during the 1980s.

Recent history

In the 1990s, the university upgraded and renovated campus facilities. Stephen Jennings became president in 1998 and began focusing on the university's centennial celebration and position the university for the future. Under Jennings, OCU team names were changed from the Chiefs to the Stars and the university expanded student life, including the Distinguished Speakers Series.[7] Tom McDaniel became president in 2001 and altered the look of the OCU campus from an influx of donations. New additions to the campus included The Ann Lacy Visitor and Admissions Center, the Norick Art Center, the Edith Kinney Gaylord Center, the Wanda L. Bass School of Music Center, Meinders School of Business, and a new residence hall.[7] Robert Harlan Henry, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, became the university's 17th president in July 2010, succeeding Tom McDaniel.[9] During Henry's tenure, the university has moved the OCU School of Law to an historic location in downtown Oklahoma City, renovated several academic facilities, and launched a Physician Assistant program. The 18th president of Oklahoma City University was Martha Burger, who served from 2018 to 2021. She was succeeded on by Kenneth R. Evans, who had previously served as president of Lamar University.

Historic designation

The Administration Building, included in the historic district

On December 19, 1978, part of the university campus was listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.[5][10] The district comprises the Administration Building, the Fine Arts Building, and the Goldstar Building.[11] It was nominated for its statewide significance in education and in the Methodist community.[12]


The 104-acre (0.42 km2) campus lies in the Uptown area of central Oklahoma City north of downtown and immediately west of the Asia District, just a few miles due west of the Oklahoma State Capitol building on NW 23rd Street. Other notable districts nearby include the Plaza District, the Paseo Arts District, and the LGBT district.

Prominent campus buildings include the Gold Star Memorial Building (School of Religion, Honors College, School of Theater ), Clara Jones Administration Building, Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel, Sarkeys Science and Mathematics Center, Edith Kinney Gaylord Center (housing the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Entertainment), Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Building, Dulaney-Browne Library, McDaniel University Center, Meinders School of Business and Henry K. Freede Wellness and Activity Center. The 38 million dollar state-of-the-art 113,000 sq ft (10,500 m2) Wanda L. Bass Music Center was opened in April 2006.[13] OCU opened a 52,000 sq ft (4,800 m2) addition to the Kramer School of Nursing in January 2011.[14] The university purchased the historic Central High School building in downtown Oklahoma City in 2012 where the School of Law is now located.

The Kerr-McGee Centennial Plaza on the southeast corner of the campus was constructed in 2004 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of OCU.[15] The plaza features bronze statues honoring OCU's three Miss America pageant winners.[15] In the first decade of the 21st century, OCU completed more than $100 million in new campus construction.


Housing options on the campus of Oklahoma City University include dormitories, the Greek system for men, and on-campus apartments.

Oklahoma United Methodist Hall (formerly Centennial Hall) is a coed facility for freshmen and upper-class students, and includes an underground parking structure.[16] Banning Hall provides coed housing for freshmen and upper-class honors students. Walker Hall, OCU's only high-rise dorm at seven stories, offers coed housing for freshmen. Draper Hall is a coed dorm for upperclassman and freshmen overflow, featuring suite style rooms.

There is one apartment complex on campus available to upperclass students only. Cokesbury Court offers residential hall-type living in separate apartment units.[17]

In addition to on-campus residences there are a wide variety of off-campus options nearby ranging from boarding houses and flats in the Asia District, Gatewood neighborhood, and on 39th Street, to apartment complexes and rental bungalows in Uptown and the Plaza District. A number of students live in the two fraternity houses located just off-campus.

Campus safety

OCU maintains a full-time on-campus police force to ensure a safe campus. In addition to normal duties and patrols, OCUPD are available to escort any student after dark. In addition, emergency call stations are strategically scattered throughout the campus providing immediate access to campus security.[18]


Academic rankings

The university is classified as a Master's college and university by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.[20] OCU is the only Oklahoma institution listed in the top tier of the master level university category by U.S. News & World Report magazine's "America's Best Colleges" issue. It is currently ranked 23rd among Master's Universities in the West region.[21]

OCU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. In addition the nursing program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, the music program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, the Montessori education program accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education, and the law school is accredited by the American Bar Association.[6]

Colleges and schools by size


Degree programs

OCU offers more than 70 undergraduate majors; 20 graduate degrees, including the MBA, the J.D., the MFA, two PhD programs in nursing, and the Adult Studies Program for working adults to earn a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree.[22] The school also offers numerous pre-professional degrees, one such degree track is the Oxford Plan;[23] successful participants qualify for preferred admission to the School of Law and participants with an LSAT score of 155 or higher and an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or higher are guaranteed admission to the School of Law.[24] In 2009 OCU launched its first doctoral programs in the university's history.[23] OCU offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice and the PhD in Nursing through the Kramer School of Nursing.[23]

OCU also provides opportunities for further education with service learning components across the curriculum; a University Honors Program; OCULEADS, a freshman scholarship and leadership development program; a partnership with The Oklahoma Scholar-Leadership Enrichment Program (OSLEP), an intercollegiate, interdisciplinary program; a Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature; and numerous study abroad programs.[25]


Official logo for OCU Athletics

Main article: Oklahoma City Stars

The Oklahoma City (OCU) athletic teams are called the Stars (formerly known the Methodists prior to 1921,[26] as the Goldbugs prior to 1944,[26][27] and the Chiefs from 1944 until 1999.[28]). The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) for most of its sports since the 1986–87 academic year. The Stars previously competed at the NCAA Division I ranks, primarily competing in the Midwestern City Conference (MCC; now known as the Horizon League) from 1979–80 to 1984–85; and in the D-I Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC; now known as the Atlantic Sun Conference) during the 1978–79 school year. Its women's wrestling team competed in the Women's College Wrestling Association (WCWA).

OCU competes in 18 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, track & field and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, stunt, track & field and volleyball; and co-ed sports include competitive cheer, competitive dance and rowing. Former sports included women's wrestling.


Under president Tom McDaniel the number of athletic teams doubled to 22. OCU is represented by "Starsky" the Ram; "Starsky" is inspired by the celestial lore surrounding the creation of OCU. OCU teams have won 57 National Championships since 1988, most recently repeating as the 2014 NAIA Men's Cross Country Champions.[29] This marks the 20th straight year that OCU has won a National Championship.[30]

Men's basketball

A member of the NCAA until after the 1984–85 season, OCU made the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship tournament 11 times and the National Invitation Tournament twice as an independent, making OCU the most successful basketball program to no longer compete at the Division I level. Its basketball tradition spans the glory days of legendary coaches Abe Lemons, Paul Hansen, and Doyle Parrack. OCU has been ranked in the top 10 in the NACDA Director's Cup rankings consistently since 1997, including a top finish in 2001–02.[31]


In 1984–85 OCU won the Midwestern City Conference baseball championship and made into the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship tournament before moving to the NAIA the next year.


In 2012, Kevin Patrick Hardy (Class of 2013), became OCU's first national champion in wrestling, capturing the national title at 165 pounds.

Student life

Opportunities for cultural enrichment and entertainment on the OCU campus include concerts, play performances, operas, films, sporting events, and seminars by world-renowned speakers and business leaders. Guest speakers at OCU have included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel prize winner Elie Wiesel, author Kurt Vonnegut, playwright Edward Albee, researcher Jane Goodall, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Sister Helen Prejean, educator and author Jonathan Kozol, Poets Laureate Ted Kooser and Billy Collins, civil rights attorney Morris Dees, journalists Helen Thomas and George Will, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and politician Karen Hughes.[32]

A Wellness Program and Outdoor Adventures Program provide numerous opportunities for student activity such as pilates, yoga, traditional aerobics classes and self-defense, as well as hiking, bicycling, camping, horseback riding and sailing. A resource center and gear checkout are provided on campus. Intramural sports are a popular activity, with over 35 different sports available in league and tournament play and both coed and single-gender teams. Students have access to a full-size exercise facility, the Aduddell Center, located next to Centennial Hall.[33]

The university's large numbers of international students add to a culture of diversity. The Office of Multicultural Affairs maintains organizations such as the Black Student Association, Hispanic Student Association, Native American Society, and the Asian American Student Association. The office also maintains international student associations such as the Indian Student Association, Korean Student Association, and Chinese Student Association.[34]

The student body is represented by the Student Government Association, or SGA (formerly Student Senate). The OCU SGA consists of the Executive Branch, which includes the president and his staff and manages SGA; the Student Senate, which allots monies to student organizations and hears legislation; the Student Activities Committee, which oversees Homecoming and special events; the Judicial Branch, which deal with student disciplinary issues. The elections for SGA are held in April with special elections for freshman in the fall.[35]

Oklahoma City University has nearly 60 active student organizations. Focuses of these organizations range from ethnic to political, religious to special interests. Organizations often have office space inside the Student Government Association Office in the Union.

The Oklahoma City University Film Institute offers the campus and Oklahoma City community the opportunity to view eight to ten classic international films per year. Written materials on the theme and films is available at each screening and the screenings are followed by a discussion of the film. The film series has been presented each year since 1982.[36]


OCU maintains several traditions, the largest being Homecoming in the fall. Homecoming, which is a week-long celebration, includes philanthropy events, concerts, floats and sporting events.[37]

Newspapers, magazines and other media

The Campus is the official student newspaper of Oklahoma City University. It is updated at MediaOCU.com. It has served the students since 1907, and has won numerous state and national awards. It is produced by Student Publications, a part of the school's mass communications department.

The Scarab is a student anthology of writing and art, including non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and photography, published by OCU's chapter of the international English honor society Sigma Tau Delta and winner of the society's 2003–2004 award for Literary Arts Journal of the year.[38]

All students may also submit research to the undergraduate research journal Stellar.[39]

Greek life

The university is home to three fraternities and four sororities including Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Phi, Gamma Phi Beta, Phi Mu sororities; Kappa Sigma, Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Gamma Delta fraternities. OCU is also home to many other non-traditional Greek organizations such as two National Interfraternity Music Council organizations, Sigma Alpha Iota and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia; One local Christian fraternity, Delta Alpha Chi; and Kappa Phi, a national Christian women's organization. OCU also has numerous chapters of professional and academic honor fraternities such as Phi Alpha Delta, a professional law fraternity; Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society; and the original chapter of Beta Beta Beta, the national biological honor society.[40]

Notable people


This section should include a summary of List of Oklahoma City University alumni. See Wikipedia:Summary style for information on how to incorporate it into this article's main text. (October 2023)

Main article: List of Oklahoma City University alumni


More than 78 percent of OCU faculty members hold terminal degrees in their fields. All classes are taught by professors, and not graduate assistants. Student to faculty ratio is 13:1 and the average class size is 16 for freshmen and 12 for upperclassmen.[6] Notable faculty have included:


  1. ^ NAICU — Member Directory Archived November 9, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ As of January 29, 2015 "Sortable Table: College and University Endowments, 2013-14". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  3. ^ "Colors – Oklahoma City University". Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Annual Listing of Historic Properties" (PDF). Federal Register. 44 (26). National Park Service: 7568. February 1979. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c "Oklahoma City University". U.S. Department of Education. 2010. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "About Oklahoma City University: History". Oklahoma City University. Archived from the original on December 8, 2010.
  8. ^ "Historical Statement". Annual Catalog - Methodist University of Oklahoma. July 1, 1915. p. 13.
  9. ^ Robert Boczkiewicz, "Judge resigns from Denver-based appeals court", Tulsa World, December 11, 2009.
  10. ^ Meredith 1978, p. 1.
  11. ^ Meredith 1978, p. 2.
  12. ^ Meredith 1978, p. 3.
  13. ^ Goff-Parker, Kevan (March 31, 2006). "OCU's music building to be dedicated Saturday: Wanda L. Bass Music". The Journal Record.
  14. ^ Griggs, Cari (January 26, 2011). "Nursing students, faculty settle into new home". OCUMedia. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  15. ^ a b "Celebration of the Century!" (PDF). Oklahoma City University President's Annual Report. 2004. p. 3. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  16. ^ "Dormitory renamed to honor Oklahoma Conference". United Methodist Church. August 20, 2011. Archived from the original on November 27, 2010. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  17. ^ "Residence Life". Oklahoma City University. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  18. ^ "Oklahoma City University Police Department". Oklahoma City University. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  19. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2023". Forbes. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  20. ^ "Carnegie Foundation Classification – Oklahoma City University". Carnegie Foundation. 2008–2010. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  21. ^ "US News West region rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
  22. ^ "Academics". Oklahoma City University. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  23. ^ a b c Staff (September 16, 2009). "OCU President Tom McDaniel announces retirement". The Norman Transcript. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
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  30. ^ "Championships". Oklahoma City University Athletics website. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
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  35. ^ Griggs, Cari (September 15, 2010). "Seven freshmen vie for Senate seats". The Campus. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  36. ^ "Oklahoma City area college news:OCU film series continues". The Oklahoman. January 19, 2011. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
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  38. ^ "Academic Winners Archive 2003-2004" (PDF). Sigma Tau Delta, International English Honor Society. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  39. ^ "Publications". Oklahoma City University. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  40. ^ "Greek Life". Oklahoma City University. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
  41. ^ "Oklahoma Gov. appoints first openly gay statewide official". Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. May 14, 2007. Archived from the original on June 28, 2007. Retrieved June 7, 2007.


35°29′41″N 97°32′29″W / 35.49472°N 97.54139°W / 35.49472; -97.54139