University of Central Oklahoma

The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO or Central State) is a public university in Edmond, Oklahoma. It is the third largest university in Oklahoma, with more than 17,000 students and approximately 434 full-time and 400 adjunct faculty. Founded in 1890,[3] the University of Central Oklahoma was one of the first institutions of higher learning to be established in what would become the state of Oklahoma, making it one of the oldest universities in the southwest region of the United States. It is home to the American branch of the British Academy of Contemporary Music in downtown Oklahoma City.[4]

Public university in Edmond, Oklahoma
“Central State College” redirects here. It is not to be confused with Central State University.

University of Central Oklahoma
Former names
Territorial Normal School
Central State Normal School
Central State Teachers College
Central State College
Central State University
Motto Ubi Motus Est (Latin)
Motto in English
Where Movement Is
Type Public university
Established December 24, 1890 (1890-12-24)
Affiliation Regional University System of Oklahoma
Endowment $32.81 million (2017)[1]
President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar
Provost Charlotte Simmons
Academic staff
Students 16,910
Undergraduates 15,067
Postgraduates 1,843



United States


Campus Urban, 210 acres (0.85 km2)
Colors Blue and Bronze[2]


Nickname Bronchos
Sporting affiliations
Mascot Buddy Broncho

. . . University of Central Oklahoma . . .

The University of Central Oklahoma was founded on December 24, 1890, when the Territorial Legislature voted to establish the Territorial Normal School,[3] making UCO the second oldest public institution in Oklahoma. First being the University of Oklahoma established December 19, 1890. Classes were first held in November 1891. By comparison, Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) held its first classes in December 1891 and the University of Oklahoma began its first classes in fall 1892.[5][6][7]

The Territorial Legislature located the new school in Edmond, provided certain conditions were met. First, Oklahoma County had to donate $5,000 in bonds, and Edmond had to donate 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land within one mile (1.6 km) of the town; the land was eventually donated by Anton Classen. Ten of those acres had to be set aside for the new school. The remaining land had to be divided into lots which would be sold to raise money for the new school. On October 1, 1891 Richard Thatcher was elected the 1st President of Territorial Normal School of Oklahoma.[8]

The conditions all were met, with the city of Edmond donating an additional $2,000 in bonds. The first class, a group of 23 students, met for the first time November 1, 1891, in the Epworth League Room, located in the unfurnished First Methodist Church. A marker of Oklahoma granite was placed in 1915 near the original site by the Central Oklahoma Normal School Historical Society. It can be seen at Boulevard and Second Street.

Old North was the first building constructed in the summer of 1892 on the campus of what was then Territorial Normal School. It was also the first building constructed in Oklahoma Territory for the purpose of higher education. Occupancy began January 3, 1893. The school first operated as a normal school with two years of college work and a complete preparatory school. In 1897, the first graduating class—two men and three women—received their Normal School diplomas.[9]

In 1904, Territorial Normal became Central State Normal School. Statehood was still three years away. On December 29, 1919, the State Board of Education passed a resolution making Central a four-year teachers’ college conferring bachelor’s degrees. From 1901 until 1961, Central housed a laboratory school in which local elementary schoolchildren were schooled by Central’s faculty and soon-to-be teaching graduates.

Two years later, the Class of 1921 had nine members, the first graduates to receive the four-year degrees. Two decades later, in 1939, the Oklahoma Legislature authorized the institution to grant both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. With the expanded offerings came a new name, Central State College.

University name history[10]
Years Name
1890–1903 Territorial Normal School of Oklahoma
1904–1918 Central State Normal School
1919–1938 Central State Teachers College
1939–1970 Central State College
1971–1991 Central State University
1991–present University of Central Oklahoma

According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, the school was routinely affected by state politics. Presidents and sometimes faculty members, were changed with changes in state governors. In 1950, President Max W. Chambers banned solicitations of campaign donations from faculty members. This resulted in more stability of the school administration.[9]

On March 11, 1941, Central State became part of a coordinated state system of post-secondary education overseen by the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education, and joined institutions with similar missions as a regional institution.

In 1954, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education gave Central permission to offer the Master of Teaching Degree, which became the Master of Education in 1969. In 1971, the college was authorized to grant the Master of Arts in English and the Master of Business Administration degrees.

On April 13, 1971, the state legislature officially changed the institution’s name to Central State University. Old North Tower was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. On May 18, 1990, during the university’s Centennial Year, legislation was passed changing the name to the University of Central Oklahoma, though many of the students still refer to the University as “Central”, and many alumni as “Central State.”[11]

. . . University of Central Oklahoma . . .

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. . . University of Central Oklahoma . . .