University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma (OU) is a public research university in Norman, Oklahoma. Founded in 1890, it had existed in Oklahoma Territory near Indian Territory for 17 years before the two became the state of Oklahoma. In Fall 2018 the university had 31,702 students enrolled,[6] most at its main campus in Norman. Employing nearly 3,000 faculty members,[3] the school offers 152 baccalaureate programs, 160 master's programs, 75 doctorate programs, and 20 majors at the first professional level.[7]

University of Oklahoma
MottoLatin: Civi et Reipublicae
Motto in English
For the benefit of the Citizen and the State[1]
Established1890 (1890)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$1.736 billion (2018)[2]
PresidentJoseph Harroz, Interim President
ProvostKyle Harper
Academic staff
Students28,564(Fall 2019)[4]
Undergraduates22,152 (Fall 2019)[4]
Postgraduates6,412(Fall 2019)[4]
Location, ,
United States
3,000 acres (12.1 km2)
ColorsCrimson and Cream[5]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IBig 12
MascotsBoomer and Sooner

The university is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity."[8] Its Norman campus has two prominent museums, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, specializing in French Impressionism and Native American artwork, and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, specializing in the natural history of Oklahoma.

The university has won multiple national championships in multiple sports, including seven football national championships and two NCAA Division I baseball championships. The women's softball team has won the national championship four times: in 2000, 2013, and consecutively in 2016 and 2017. The gymnastics teams have won a combined 11 national championships since 2002, with the men's team winning eight in the last 15 years, including three consecutive titles from 2015 to 2017.[9]


With the support of Governor George Washington Steele, on December 18, 1890 the Oklahoma Territorial legislature established three universities: the state university in Norman, the agricultural and mechanical college in Stillwater (later renamed Oklahoma State University) and a normal school in Edmond (later renamed University of Central Oklahoma).[10] Oklahoma's admission into the union in 1907 led to the renaming of the Norman Territorial University as the University of Oklahoma. Norman residents donated 407 acres (1.6 km2) of land for the university 0.5 miles (0.8 km) south of the Norman railroad depot. The university's first president ordered the planting of trees before the construction of the first campus building because he "could not visualize a treeless university seat."[11] Landscaping remains important to the university.[12]

The university's first president, David Ross Boyd, arrived in Norman in August 1892, and the first students enrolled that year. The university established a School of Pharmacy in 1893 because of high demand for pharmacists in the territory. Three years later, the university awarded its first degree to a pharmaceutical chemist.[13] The "Rock Building" in downtown Norman held the initial classes until the university's first building opened on September 6, 1893.[14]

On January 6, 1903, the university's only building burned down and destroyed many records of the early university. Construction began immediately on a new building, as several other towns hoped to convince the university to move. President Boyd and the faculty were not dismayed by the loss. Mathematics professor Frederick Elder said, "What do you need to keep classes going? Two yards of blackboard and a box of chalk."[15] As a response to the fire, English professor Vernon Louis Parrington created a plan for the development of the campus. Most of the plan was never implemented, but Parrington's suggestion for the campus core formed the basis for the North Oval. The North and South Ovals are now distinctive features of the campus.

The campus has a distinctive architecture, with buildings designed in a unique "Cherokee Gothic" style. The style has many features of the Gothic era but has also mixed the designs of local Native American tribes from Oklahoma. This term was coined by the renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright when he visited the campus.[16] The university has built over a dozen buildings in the Cherokee Gothic style.

Presidents of the
University of Oklahoma

In 1907, Oklahoma entered statehood, fostering changes in the political atmosphere of the state. Up until this point, Oklahoma's Republican tendencies changed with the election of Oklahoma's first governor, the Democratic Charles N. Haskell. Since the inception of the university, different groups on campus were divided by religion. Early in the university's existence, many professors were Presbyterian, as was Boyd. Under pressure, Boyd eventually hired several Baptists and Southern Methodists.[17] The Presbyterians and Baptists got along but the Southern Methodists conflicted with the administration. Two notable Methodists, Rev. Nathaniel Lee Linebaugh and Professor Ernest Taylor Bynum, were critics of Boyd and activists in Haskell's election campaign. When Haskell took office, he fired many of the Republicans at the university, including President Boyd.[18]

The campus expanded over the next several decades. By 1932, the university encompassed 167 acres (0.7 km2). Development of South Oval allowed for the southern expansion of the campus. The university built a new library on the oval's north end in 1936. Then President Bizzell was able to get the Oklahoma legislature to approve $500,000 for the new library up from their original offer of $200,000. This allowed for an even greater collection of research materials for students and faculty.[14]

Like many universities, OU had a drop in enrollment during World War II. Enrollment in 1945 dropped to 3,769, from its pre–World War II high of 6,935 in 1939.[19]

Many infrastructure changes have occurred at the university. The southern portion of south campus in the vicinity of Constitution Avenue, still known to long-time Norman residents as 'South Base', was originally built as an annex to Naval Air Station Norman. It contained mostly single-story frame buildings used for classrooms and military housing.[20] By the late 1980s, most were severely deteriorated and were demolished in the 1990s to make room for redevelopment. The Jimmie Austin University of Oklahoma Golf Course was built as a U.S. Navy recreational facility.[20]

During World War II, OU was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[21]

The north campus and airfield were built in the early 1940s as Naval Air Station Norman. The station served mainly an advanced flight training mission and could handle all but the largest bombers.[22] A large earthen mound east of Interstate 35 and north of Robinson Street, colloquially known as 'Mount Williams',[23] was used as a gunnery (the mound has since been removed to make way for a commercial development).[24] In the post–World War II demobilization, the university received the installation. Naval aviator's wings displayed at the entrance to the terminal commemorates this airfield's Naval past.

After the World War, a period of rapid growth occurred on the campus and enrollment surged. By 1965, enrollment had risen over 450% to 17,268, causing housing shortages.[19] In the mid-1960s, the administration completed construction of three new 12-story dormitories located immediately south of the South Oval. In addition to these three towers, an apartment complex was completed that housed married students, including men returning to college under the GI Bill.[25] These apartments are now Kraettli Apartments.

In 1943 George Lynn Cross took over as president of the university, two years after the U.S. entered World War II. He served until 1968, 25 years later, becoming the longest-serving president in history of the university. Five presidents served in the next 25 years. In 1994, the university hired a president who has stayed longer.

The Civil Rights Movement began a new era as the university began policies against racial discrimination and segregation after legal challenges and court cases outlawed discrimination. The Bizzell Memorial Library has been designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in commemoration of the cases of G. W. McLaurin, a black man who was denied admission to graduate school in 1948. It was then state law that no school should serve both white and black students, but there were few or no separate graduate programs available for blacks. A court case effectively forced the Board of Regents to vote to admit McLaurin, but he was directed to study in a separated area within the law library and to be allowed to lunch only in a segregated area as well. The National Association for Advancement of Colored People brought the case to the U.S. Supreme court in McLaurin vs. Oklahoma State Board of Regents. In 1950, the court overturned the university's policy for segregation at the graduate school level. The case was an important precedent for the more famous and sweeping 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education which disallowed "separate but equal" policy at all school levels.[26][27]

Since David Boren became president in 1994, the University of Oklahoma system has experienced tremendous growth, with an increase in new developments throughout including the purchase of 60 acres (0.2 km2) for OU-Tulsa, the new Gaylord Hall, Price Hall, the ExxonMobil Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility, Devon Energy Hall, the Wagner Student Academic Services Center, the Research and Medical Clinic, the expansions of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art,[28] and the National Weather Center.[29]

In March 2015, the University of Oklahoma shut down the Oklahoma Kappa chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity when a video surfaced that showed members singing a racist chant while riding on a bus. Sigma Alpha Epsilon shut down the chapter on March 8, 2015,[30] and University of Oklahoma president David Boren gave members two days to leave the fraternity house. He also expelled two students who he said "played a leadership role" in the incident, creating "a hostile learning environment for others".[31][32] The expulsion, allegedly without due process, earned the university a spot on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education's 2016 "10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech".[33]

David Boren, a former U.S. Senator and Oklahoma Governor, served 24 years as the university's president from 1994 to 2018. James L. Gallogly succeeded Boren on July 1, 2018, only to retire ten months later on May 12, 2019.[34] OU College of Law Dean Joseph Harroz was appointed effective immediately May 16, 2019 to a 15-month term as Interim President and is eligible for permanent selection.[35]

Academic profile

The University of Oklahoma is a large residential, research university.[8] The university consists of fifteen colleges, including 152 majors[7] such as aviation,[46] meteorology, geology, petroleum engineering, energy management, architecture, law, medicine, Native American studies, history of science, and dance programs. Native American studies includes language classes in Cherokee,[47] Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, and Kiowa[48] as part of the University's Native American language program; currently Creek, Choctaw, and Cherokee I, II, and III are offered in both fall and spring semesters.[48] The university has a high four-year full-time undergraduate enrollment including a high transfer-in population.[8] While the two main campuses are located in Norman and Oklahoma City, affiliated programs in Tulsa expand access for students in eastern Oklahoma. Some of the programs in Tulsa include: medicine, pharmacy, nursing, public health, allied health and liberal arts studies.[49]

In addition to 152 majors to choose from, the University of Oklahoma also has a nationally recognized Honors College featuring its own dedicated faculty, dormitories, and writing center.[50] Every student from any major can apply to the college; if accepted the student is eligible to take honors classes and graduate cum laude. In order to graduate with honors, the student must complete 18 credit hours of honors classes and submit an honors thesis. Transfer students are able to transfer up to nine credit hours of honor classes from a different university.[51]

Students come from all 50 U.S. states and over 100 countries. 32% of the 2006 freshmen were in the top 10% of their high school class.[52] Ethnic minority groups represent over 25% of newly enrolled undergraduates[53] and 27% of all students.[54] In addition, the university has an enrollment of over 700 National Merit Scholars, making it first per capita among public universities.[7]

Highly ranked areas of study are petroleum engineering, business programs in entrepreneurship and international business, and weather related majors.[55]

In addition to being a member of the Southeastern Universities Research Association and Universities Research Association, the University of Oklahoma has been categorized as "more selective" by the Carnegie Foundation. For the 2010–2011 school year, 9,996 applied and 8,498 were admitted (85%).[56] The university's freshman retention rate in 2009 was 82% and the six-year graduation rate was 62.0%.[57]

In May 2019, U.S. News & World Report said that the University of Oklahoma gave "inflated" data on its alumni giving rates for two decades and in response, would show the University as unranked in its 2019 edition of "Best Colleges" rankings.[58]


Norman campus

As of the fall of 2009, the Norman campus had 18,667 undergraduate students and 6,367 postgraduate students.[59] Following the Sooners' 2000 football national-championship season[60] the university experienced an increase in college applicants and admissions. The falls of 1999 and 2000 both saw a 1.3% increase in the number of students over the respective previous years while the fall of 2001 saw an increase of 4.8% over 2000.[61]

The largest school, the College of Arts & Sciences, enrolls 35.2% of the OU-Norman students. The College of Arts & Sciences offers several programs, which include internships and most notably a joint archaeological program (with Saint Anselm College of Goffstown, New Hampshire) in Orvieto, Italy.[62] The next largest school, The Price College of Business enrolls 13%. Other large colleges on the Norman campus include the College of Engineering with 10.6% and the College of Education, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and College of Liberal Studies, each with approximately 6% of the student body.[63] Smaller schools include the Colleges of Architecture and Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, Earth and Energy, the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, and the College of Law. New students do not have to declare a major (a concentrated course of study) immediately and are not required to declare a major until their Junior year. If they are undecided in their major, they are considered a part of the University College, comprising approximately 8% of the student body. Many Pre-Health majors choose this option until they are able to apply for the medical program of their choice.[63]

The Norman campus has three sections: north campus, main campus, and south campus. All three campuses are connected by a bus service funded by student fees which allows students to park at Lloyd Noble Center and provides 5- to 10-minute service to the main and south campuses.[64] Other regular Norman bus routes provide service to north campus as well as the main campus. The main and south campus are contiguous while the north campus is located about two miles north of the main campus.

The Norman campus is the locus of a number of ghost stories, some negative some positive.[65][66]

Main campus

The main campus is bordered by Boyd Street on the north, Timberdell Road on the south, Chautauqua Avenue on the west, and Jenkins Avenue on the east.[67] The Norman campus is centered on two large "ovals." The Parrington Oval (or North Oval as it is more commonly called) is anchored on the south by Evans Hall, the main administrative building. This building highlights the "Cherokee Gothic" style of architecture locally derived from the Collegiate Gothic style, the style that dominates and defines the older buildings on the OU campus. The North Oval is bordered on the east by the Oklahoma Memorial Union.

On the east side of the northernmost part of campus sits Sarkeys Energy Center while to the west is the Fred Jones, Jr. School of Art and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, home to the Weitzenhoffer Collection of Impressionist art[68] and the Catlett Music Center. Just south of Catlett is Goddard Health Center,[69] an on-campus clinic that provides medical care and counseling and testing services to students, faculty, staff, and their dependents. Goddard comprises the OU Health Services laboratory, Counseling Services, Health Promotion, and a pharmacy. The Van Vleet Oval (or South Oval) is anchored on the north by the Bizzell Memorial Library and flanked by academic buildings. When class is in session, the South Oval is often inundated with students going to and from class. Elm Avenue bounds the western edge of the academic portion of OU, with a few exceptions. Lying between Elm Avenue and Chautauqua Avenue are mostly fraternity and sorority houses.

On the east side of the central part of campus lies Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, just north of Lindsey Street on Jenkins Avenue. Immediately adjacent to the stadium is the Barry Switzer Center, a museum highlighting the historical success of Oklahoma athletics, as well as a comprehensive training facility for Oklahoma athletes. North of the stadium is the McCasland Field House, the former home of Oklahoma Basketball and the current home of Oklahoma's wrestling, volleyball and gymnastics programs. Across Jenkins Avenue are the athletic dorms and statues honoring Oklahoma's past five Heisman Trophy winners. Other statues on campus include several honoring the Native Americans who defined much of Oklahoma's history and a new memorial statue on the north side of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium honoring OU students, faculty, and staff that have died while serving in the armed forces.[70][71]

The portion of OU's main campus south of Lindsey Street includes three Colleges, University housing, student activity and fitness facilities, and the Oklahoma Center for Continuing Education. The Joe C. and Carole Kerr McClendon Honors College is located in David L. Boren Hall, which serves as an Academic Arts Community where residential rooms, faculty offices, classrooms, a computer center and library are all available in the same building.[72] Other residence halls include the twelve-story Adams, Couch and Walker Centers, as well as Cate Center, made up of three- and four-story buildings, which are transitioning to faculty offices.[73] Adjacent to the residence facilities are the Sarkeys Fitness Center (formerly the Houston Huffman Fitness Center), Henderson-Tolson Cultural Center and the Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center. The Murray Case Sells Swim Complex is also nearby, providing indoor and outdoor swimming opportunities for the OU community. The Oklahoma Center for Continuing Education (OCCE) is one of eleven W. K. Kellogg Foundation-funded centers in the United States and Britain. It is home to OU Outreach, which consists of the College of Continuing Education and the College of Liberal Studies, and includes a conference center able to host events of up to 1500 participants.[74]

The Oklahoma administration prides itself on the aesthetic appeal of the campus.[11][75] All three campuses (Norman, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa) have beautifully landscaped gardens. Trees were planted on the OU campus before the first building was ever built.[11] There are also many statues and sculptures around campus, most of which portray the strong influence of the Native American culture.

There are also four buildings on the main campus that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are the Bizzell Library, the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house, Casa Blanca (the old Alpha Chi Omega sorority house), and Boyd House – the residence of the university president.[76]

In September 2008, it was announced that the University of Oklahoma's main campus will be entirely powered by wind by 2013.[77] According to OU president David Boren, "It is our patriotic duty as Americans to help our country achieve energy independence and to be sound stewards of the environment."[78] The school plans to purchase its energy from the OU Spirit Wind Farm, which is scheduled for construction near Woodward in late 2009. The new source of energy is projected to cost the university an additional $5 million per year.[79]

The Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work was completed on the Norman campus in 2011 and houses facilities for the training of undergraduate and graduate social workers. The 12 million dollar building is named for the Zarrow family, a philanthropic couple from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Zarrow's donated $5 million as the keystone donors for the new building with the remaining funds coming from a bequest of Ruth I. Knee, a graduate of the program, and a portion of the states federal stimulus funds.

North campus

On the far north side of Norman is the OU Research Campus-North, which includes University of Oklahoma Max Westheimer Airport (ICAO: KOUN), the Radar Operations Center, the old National Severe Storms Laboratory facility, the OU OKDHS Training and Research Center, and Merrick Computer and Technology Center. Additional research facilities as part of OU's Gallogly College of Engineering also operate out of North campus including the Measurement and Automation Laboratory, Laboratory for Electrical Energy and Power Systems, and Laboratory for Smart Buildings.

OU's College of Aviation runs a programs in the education of future pilots, air traffic controllers and aviation industry professionals. The Aviation Accreditation Board has accredited the College of Aviation at North Base as one of only 29 accredited colleges in the world.[80]

South campus

South of student housing is Timberdell Road, the approximate southern boundary of the university. South of this road are University-owned apartments and athletic complexes. Also on the south side of Timberdell Road is the College of Law building which was expanded in 2002 by the addition of a larger law library and courtroom.[81] There are additional athletic complexes in this area, including L. Dale Mitchell Baseball Park, the OU Softball Field, and Lloyd Noble Center (the basketball arena).

OU owns the wooded area just south of Highway 9 between Chautauqua and Jenkins. This area is called Oliver's Woods. Ecology classes take field trips to Oliver's Woods frequently. They can use the area to study Ecological patterns including tree growth and pH in the ground. Visible patterns of plant dispersion can be studied in Oliver's Woods as well, including uniform, random, and clumped patterns. The area has a trail for people to follow and a creek running through the lower elevated area.

Research campus

While this area has traditionally lacked academic buildings, the pressure of expansion in the northern part of campus led recently to the construction of new academic buildings – such as the National Weather Center and Stephenson Research and Technology Center – on the south end of campus. This area, now termed The University of Oklahoma's Research Campus,[82] "brings academic, public and private sector organizations together in a mutually beneficial collaborative environment."[83] In 2004, global weather information provider WeatherNews opened its U.S. Operations Center in One Partners Place, located in the research campus one block away from the new NWC building.[84] The southern boundary of the research campus is State Highway 9. OU's Advanced Radar Research Center is also located on the Research campus in its new Radar Innovations Laboratory building. As of 2013 the Life Sciences Research Center has opened, housing numerous chemical and biochemical research labs. Other buildings located on the research campus include One Partners Place, Two Partners Place, Three Partners Place, Four Partners Place, and Five Partners Place. Housed within these buildings are the Center for Spatial Analysis and the Center for Applied Social Research amongst several others.

Health Sciences Center

The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center's main campus is located at the Oklahoma Health Center in Oklahoma City, while a secondary Health Sciences campus is in Tulsa. About 3,500 students enroll in one of the seven colleges at the Health Center. The distribution of students in each of these colleges is more uniform than that of the main campus.

The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC), established in the early 20th century, is OU's presence in Oklahoma City. OUHSC is one of only four academic health centers in the nation with seven professional colleges.[85] The nineteen buildings that make up the OUHSC campus occupies a fifteen block area in Oklahoma City near the Oklahoma State Capitol. Surrounding these buildings are an additional twenty health-related buildings some of which are owned by the University of Oklahoma. With approximately 600 students and 600 residents and fellows training in specialties and subspecialties of medicine, the College of Medicine is the largest component of the Health Sciences Center. The major clinical facilities on campus are the OU Medical Center hospital complex and they include The Children's Hospital, the OU Physicians clinics, and the Oklahoma City Veterans Administration Medical Center. The Oklahoma Health Center at large has large biomedical research facilities operated by the university joined on campus by a growing biomedical and pharmaceutical research corporations developed by the Presbyterian Health Foundation, dedicated to biotechnology, research, and new scientific ventures.

University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Schusterman Center

The University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Schusterman Center (OU-Tulsa) is home to all OU programs in Tulsa, OU Physicians-Tulsa and the School of Community Medicine. OU-Tulsa offers six bachelor's degree completion programs; 14 master's degree programs; doctoral programs in medicine, physical therapy, education, early childhood education, engineering and nursing, as well as nine residency programs in medicine. More than 200 full-time faculty teach OU-Tulsa students and enrollment at OU-Tulsa exceeds 1,600 students. More than 1,000 employees work at the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center and OU Physicians medical clinics throughout Tulsa. OU-Tulsa has service, education and research affiliations with more than 100 community agencies.

Established in 1972 as a branch of the main Health Sciences Center campus in Oklahoma City, the OU School of Community Medicine, formerly the College of Medicine–Tulsa, has enabled the university to establish medical residencies and provide for expanded health care capabilities in the state. Between 1972 and 1999, OU's presence in Tulsa had grown but scattered. In 1999, a 60-acre (24 ha) site formerly owned by BP Amoco was sold to the university for $24 million (even though the property was appraised at $48 million). The site already featured a 370,000 square feet (34,370 m2) building with offices, labs, and classrooms.[86] The university purchased this property with the help of a $10 million gift from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. The existing building was renamed the Schusterman Center.[87] This historic, 60-acre property in the heart of Tulsa features original mid-century architecture surrounded by nearly 1,000 trees. New construction of the Schusterman Library and Schusterman Learning Center at OU-Tulsa has been designed in keeping with the original building style.

In 2003, Tulsa voters approved the Vision 2025 plan for capital improvements to the Tulsa metro area. Included in this plan was $30 million for a new Research and Medical Clinic near the existing Schusterman Center.[88] Construction on the new building, the OU Schusterman Clinic, was completed in June 2007.

OU-Tulsa is also home to the OU School of Community Medicine. Created with the support of a $50 million donation from the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the school's mission is to improve the health status of all Oklahomans, particularly the urban and rural underserved.

The OU School of Community Medicine faculty comprises around 200 physicians representing a wide field of specialties. These doctors also form the OU Physicians medical practice group, which provides care to patients at some 25 clinic sites in the Tulsa area. The faculty's time is split among teaching medical students, supervising medical residents and providing patient care.

OU in Arezzo

In 2012, The University of Oklahoma purchased a monastery in Arezzo, Italy.[89] In early 2016, renovations to the monastery neared completion and OU began the use of its newest permanent "campus" (denominated as a "Study Center") location outside of the state of Oklahoma. The university expects that one in five OU students who study abroad will go through the Arezzo campus. The Arezzo campus has been described by university president, David Boren, as a first step for students and their parents to become acquainted with the world and gain an educational experience in a foreign land. The campus is scheduled to be dedicated in the summer of 2016. Boren chose the smaller town of Arezzo in part because of the small size of the town relative to nearby Florence, which boasts programs from about 50 American universities. With such a large number of American college students in Florence, Boren was concerned that OU students would have socialized with other Americans rather than the local Italians.[89]

Other study centers

OU has study centers in Puebla, Mexico and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A center is planned for İzmir, Turkey.

Museums and libraries

The university has two prominent museums, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

  • The Museum of Art was founded in 1936 and originally headed by Oscar Jacobson, the director of the School of Art at the time. The museum opened with over 2,500 items on display and was originally located on campus in Jacobson Hall. Mr. and Mrs. Fred Jones of Oklahoma City donated money for a permanent building in 1971 and the building was named in honor of their son who died in a plane crash during his senior year at the University of Oklahoma.[90] Since then, the museum has acquired many renowned works of Native American art and, in 2000, received the Weitzenhoffer Collection of French Impressionism which includes works by Degas, Gauguin, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, and Vuillard. As of 2011 the museum has over 65,000 square feet (6,000 m2) filled with over 8,000 items from a wide array of time periods and movements.[90] In 2005, the museum expanded with the opening of the new Lester Wing designed by contemporary architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen. The architectural style of the new addition deviates from the Collegiate Gothic style of the university, but Jacobsen felt this was necessary given the contemporary works of art the wing would house.[91]
  • The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, located south of the main campus and directly southwest of the law building, specializes in the history of the people and animals that have inhabited Oklahoma over the last 300 million years. Since its founding in 1899, the museum has acquired over 5 million objects. In 2000, a new building was opened to house the ever-expanding museum. The new building offered nearly 200,000 square feet (18,600 m2) of space to display the many exhibits the museum has to offer.[92]

The University of Oklahoma Library system has its headquarters in Bizzell Memorial Library. The largest research library in Oklahoma, it contains over 4.7 million volumes and is ranked 27th out of 113 research libraries in North America in volumes held.[93] It contains more than 1.6 million photographs, subscriptions to over 31,000 periodicals, over 1.5 million maps, government documents dating back to 1893, and over 50 incunabula.[93] It has eight locations on campus. The primary library is Bizzell Memorial Library, located in the middle of the main campus. Other notable campus libraries include the Architecture Library, the Engineering Library, the Fine Arts Library, the Physics and Astronomy Library, and the Geology Library. The OU library system contains many unique collections such as the History of Science Collections (which houses over 94,000 volumes related to the history of science,[94] including hand-noted works by Galileo Galilei),[95] the Bizzell Bible Collection, and the Western History Collection.

The School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), the only American Library Association-accredited program in Oklahoma,[96] offers a graduate degree (Master of Library and Information Studies) and an undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Arts in Information Studies). The impact of OU and SLIS on the history of libraries in Oklahoma is shown in the recent list of 100 Oklahoma Library Legends as produced by the Oklahoma Library Association.[97] Two current faculty, one faculty emeriti, and numerous others associated with either the OU libraries or SLIS comprise nearly 10% of the list's members.

Residential life

Oklahoma requires, with few exceptions, that all freshmen live in one of the five residence halls.[98] Three of these buildings are referred to as "the towers" (being 12 stories each): Adams Center, Walker Center, and Couch Center. Adams Center is split into four towers, Johnson, McCasland, Muldrow, and Tarman, all united by a common ground floor. Walker Center and Couch Center are each split into East and West wings.[99] The fourth resident hall is quad Cate Center.[100] The Academic Arts Community, more commonly referred to as Cate 5 or Honors is located directly above the honors college, David L. Boren Hall. Although it is commonly believed that this dorm caters only to honors students, a large proportion of non-honors students comprise the community. The three towers are all located around each other with the Couch Cafeteria completing the residence community. Couch Cafeteria is composed of several different themed restaurants that serves a wide variety of food each day.[101] As of Fall 2007, over 3,900 students lived in one of these residence halls. Each residence hall has its own RSA (Resident Student Association) office, as well as its own computer lab and laundry facilities.

Headington Hall, completed in the Summer of 2013, is the fifth major residence hall on campus and is located on the corner of Lindsey and Jenkins street. This new facility is named after Tim Headington, OU graduate and former OU tennis player. The housing facility cost $75 million and contains 400 students (49 percent student athletes and 51 percent students who do not participate in intercollegiate sports).[102]

The university owns several apartment complexes around the campus. Some of these apartments were old and dilapidated, and the university has taken the strides to resolve this issue. Two brand new complexes owned by the university opened in recent years; OU Traditions Square East in 2005 and OU Traditions Square West in 2006.[103]

Due to a low cost of living in Oklahoma, many students find it financially viable to live off campus in either apartments or houses. In recent years, many new apartment or condominium complexes (not including the OU-owned properties) have been built[104] in addition to a booming housing market that is resulting in Norman spreading further east. Many students also commute from nearby Moore and Oklahoma City, both located north of Norman.

Student organizations, activities, and media

Oklahoma has over 350 student organizations.[105] Focuses of these organizations range from ethnic to political, religious to special interests. Oklahoma Memorial Union (student union) houses many of these organizations' offices.

The student union provides a place for students to relax, sleep, study, watch television, or socialize. The Union Programming Board provides diverse activities and programs in the union such as movies, bands, dances, give-aways, or other activities.[106] Intramural sports are a popular activity on campus with over 35 different sports available.[107] A large intramural field, where many outdoor events take place, is located just one block east of the dorms.

The Pride of Oklahoma, the university's marching band, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004 and consists of 311 student musicians and dancers from 19 states. Students wishing to enter the band go through a rigorous audition process. The band plays at every home football game. A smaller pep band, which usually consists of 100 members, travels to every away football game. The full band makes trips to the AT&T Red River Rivalry game against The University of Texas, Big 12 Championship Game, bowl games and other games of importance. Members of the band are also present for many student events. It was awarded the Sudler Trophy in 1987. In 2007, The Pride of Oklahoma marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, making it one of only a few bands to have ever marched in both the Tournament of Roses and Macy's Parades.[108]

The main governing arm of the student body, the University of Oklahoma Student Government Association (SGA), comprises four branches: an Executive Branch, a Legislative Branch, a Judicial Branch, and a Programming Branch, which was first established in 1969. The student government, as well as all organizations, has offices located in the Conoco Student Leadership Center located in the student union. The student activity fee accumulated is divided into various amounts to be disbursed by a committee made up of the student president, the chair of the undergraduate student congress, the chair of the graduate student senate, and the vice president of student affairs. The student government's current budget is just over $700,000, which is used to funds student organization, as well as to pay staff assistants, bills on student government property, and other debts. Founded in 1971, Campus Activities Council (CAC) is the programming branch of OU student government presenting campus-wide traditions and events for all students. From Homecoming and U-Sing to Soonerthon and Mom's Day, CAC has a strong focus on leadership development, community building and teaching practical skills for the real world.

The local chapter of the Army ROTC provides officer training and education for nearly 100 OU students. Officially founded in 1919, it is one of the oldest such programs in the nation. OU Army ROTC cadets are active in numerous campus and state activities. They provide military color guards for Sooner football games and various on-campus ceremonies and events. After completing the Army ROTC program, OU students receive a commission in either the Regular Army, Army Reserve, or National Guard.

The campus student radio station, the WIRE, broadcasts over the Internet. The campus TV station, TV4OU, features student produced programming five nights a week and is available on Public-access television cable TV (Cox Communications Ch. 4). OU Nightly, the live student newscast, airs weeknights at 4:30 and 9:30. The Sports Package, a live sports program, airs live Monday nights at 5:00 and throughout the week. Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication programs The Wire and TV4OU. Oklahoma's Department of Continuing Education operates KROU and KGOU, a public radio station broadcasting on 106.3 FM. KGOU is affiliated with NPR.

The campus newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily, is produced daily during the fall and spring semesters and weekly during the summer semester. The Oklahoma Daily's sister publication, Sooner yearbook, creates a 400-page coffee table book for current students and alumni. Sooner, ranked as one of the top two yearbooks nationwide, focuses on capturing the year with storytelling packages of text, photos and design.[109]

The University of Oklahoma is also home to the Oklahoma Weather Lab (OWL),[110] one of the nation's only entirely student-run forecasting organizations. In addition to creating daily forecasts for twelve sites across Oklahoma and Key West, Florida, the organization also offers the podcast Talking Up a Storm[111] that are available on iTunes for free.

Oklahoma has a strong social fraternity and sorority presence. Many fraternities and sororities are only a couple decades younger than the university itself with the first fraternity chapter established in 1905 and Kappa Sigma (the Gamma-Kappa Chapter) established in 1906. The Tau Epsilon Nu chapter, established in 2011, is the newest fraternity chapter at the university. Currently there are 40 national fraternities and sororities on campus. Governing these 40 Greek chapters are four governing bodies: Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association, National Pan-Hellenic Council, and the Multicultural Greek Council. In 2005, the average GPA for the Panhellenic Association was 3.30.[112]


Sports at Oklahoma
Men's Women's
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Tennis
  • Track & field
  • Wrestling
  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Rowing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Track & field
  • Volleyball

The school's sports teams are called the Sooners, a nickname given to early settlers during the land run who sneaked into the offered territory and staked claims illegally before they were officially allowed to. They participate in the NCAA's Division I-Bowl Subdivision and in the Big 12 Conference. The school sponsors nine sports for both men and women. The university has claimed 36 team national championships, which includes 7 football national championships (football championships are not awarded by the NCAA).[9] By far, OU's most famous and storied athletic program is the football program, which has produced seven Heisman Trophy winners: Billy Vessels in 1952, Steve Owens in 1969, Billy Sims in 1978, Jason White in 2003, Sam Bradford in 2008, Baker Mayfield in 2017, and Kyler Murray in 2018.[113] Many Pro Football Hall of Famers, including Lee Roy Selmon and Troy Aikman, also attended the University of Oklahoma. In 1988, OU became the first school to participate in both the football and basketball national championships in the same year, an achievement unequaled until the 2006 season, when Ohio State and the University of Florida were both in each, with Florida winning both games. Oklahoma also currently holds the record for the longest winning streak in NCAA Division I history when they won 47 consecutive games between 1953 and 1957.[114] In reference to the team's success and popularity as a symbol of state pride, George Lynn Cross, OU's president from 1943 to 1968, once told the Oklahoma State Senate, "I want a university the football team can be proud of."[115]

The wrestling program is the fourth most decorated in college wrestling, having won seven national championships.[Note 1] The men's gymnastics team has won twelve national championships, the most out of all sports at the University of Oklahoma.[Note 2] In addition, Oklahoma has produced five Nissen Emery Award winners, more than any other school and the only school with back-to-back honorees.[116] The women's gymnastics team was crowned co-national champions with the University of Florida in 2014 and won back-to-back national championships in 2016 and 2017.[117] The softball team has won four national championships, the first in 2000[118] another in 2013 and back to back titles in 2016 and 2017. The baseball team won a national championship in 1994.[119] On May 10, 2007 the university announced the addition of women's rowing to the intercollegiate athletics program.[120] A rowing facility will be built on the Oklahoma River near downtown Oklahoma City. This is the first sport added since women's soccer was added in 1996.[120]

The University of Oklahoma has had a long and bitter rivalry with the University of Texas known as the Red River Shootout, Red River Rivalry, or OU–Texas, with Texas having the better overall record at 59–43–5. This rivalry is often thought of as a contest of state pride along with school pride. OU also has a long-standing rivalry with Oklahoma State University. Known as the Bedlam Series, it encompasses all the athletic contests between the two universities with the winner receiving the Bedlam Bell. Another major historic rival is the University of Nebraska, which was part of the Big 8 Conference with Oklahoma and later joined with Oklahoma and other schools in the formation of the Big 12 Conference. The Sooners made football history December 6, 2008, when they scored sixty or more points in five consecutive games. This achievement occurred during their victory over the University of Missouri for the Big 12 Championship.

Notable people and alumni

The University of Oklahoma has seen many of its former students go on to local and national prominence. This includes many athletes who have excelled at the collegiate, professional and Olympic levels, including Brian Bosworth, Baker Mayfield, Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham, Blake Griffin, Tommie Harris, Danny Hodge, Jonathan Horton, Anthony Kim, Matthew Lane, DeMarco Murray, Steve Owens, Maggie Nichols, Adrian Peterson, Darrell Royal, Lee Roy Selmon, Dave Shultz, Mark Shultz, Billy Sims, Jack Swagger, Wayman Tisdale, Joe Washington, and Roy Williams.

Many politicians have graduated from the University of Oklahoma, including former OU president David Boren,[121] former U.S. Speaker of the House Carl Albert,[122] Mick Cornett, David Walters, J.C. Watts,[123] A.S. Mike Monroney, Frank Keating,[124] Dan Boren,[125] Tom Coburn,[126] Brad Carson, Brad Henry,[127] and Dick Armey. The current Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, received a doctorate law degree from OU,[128] as did Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Steven W. Taylor.

A number of astronauts are alumni, including Skylab 3 and STS-9 astronaut Owen K. Garriott,[129] shuttle astronaut Shannon Lucid,[130] and Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise.[131]

Other notable alumni include historian Angie Debo, CEO of AT&T and president of the Boy Scouts of America Randall L. Stephenson, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen,[132] Pilot Sheila L. Chamberlain,[133]2006 Miss America Jennifer Berry,[134] chef Rick Bayless, mutual fund manager Michael F. Price,[135] scientist GA Mansoori, scientist Donna J. Nelson, ESPN anchor Dari Nowkhah, NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales, Grammy Award winner Kirstin Maldonado, singer and TV personality Slater Rhea,[136] and actors James Garner,[137] Ed Harris, Van Heflin, Olivia Munn, Iqbal Theba, and Dennis Weaver.

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  1. In 1936, 1951, 1952, 1957, 1960, 1963 and 1974.
  2. In 1977, 1978, 1991, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.


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