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University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, or USAO, is a public liberal arts college located in Chickasha, Oklahoma. It is the only public college in Oklahoma with a strictly liberal arts-focused curriculum. It grants Bachelor's Degrees and many students move on to graduate schools across the nation. USAO was founded in 1908 as a school for women. Today, the school is coeducational and educates approximately 1,000 students. The school is also a member of COPLAC.



1727 W Alabama Ave
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College History


The University was founded on May 16, 1908, with the signing of Senate Bill 249 by Governor Charles Haskell. The bill, authored by Senator N.P. Stewart of Hugo, Oklahoma, resulted in the foundation of the "Oklahoma Industrial Institute and College for Girls." The legislature subsequently appropriated $100,000 for the establishment of the initial buildings within the school. A local rancher named J. B. Sparks donated land for the school in memory of his daughter, Nellie. The girl was a Chickasaw descendent, and the land had been part of her allotment. The Nellie Sparks Dormitory comemmorated her. Over the next several decades, the school gained a focus on liberal arts education, awarding degrees in several fields of study. Additionally, deaf education became an increasingly important aspect of the university, as it remains today. With the decline of exclusively female universities throughout the nation, the school was pushed to become coeducational. The legislature did so in 1965, re-branding what had become known as "The Oklahoma College for Women" to the "Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts." Under the direction of the ninth President, Robert L. Martin, the university switched to a system of three equal trimesters. In an attempt to attract students interested in vigorous academics, this offered an opportunity for advanced students to quickly move through their studies and graduate early. During this period the Alumni Association became active, donating funds for the building of an on-campus chapel. Other buildings housing classrooms, including Davis Hall, were also built around this time. With restructuring, however, came strife among the faculty. Dr. Bruce G. Carter took over administrative duties as President in 1972. Under his direction, the school advanced a system of night classes for local adult learners. New scholarships for Freshmen were also made available. Soon after Dr. Carter took office, the legislature moved to rename all public institutions of higher education in the state under a new system: 2-year institutions would be known as "colleges" and 4-year institutions would be known as "universities." This led directly to OCLA's new and current name: the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. Over the next several years, several construction projects began, including the erections of Gary and Austin Hall, along with renovations to Nash Library. Parking was expanded along 17th Street and with a new lot at 19th and Utah. Serious construction continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in the opening of a newly remodeled $2.2 million Student Center in 1998. Sparks Hall, the traditional dormitory on campus, was also seriously reworked. In 2000, Dr. John Feaver became the university's twelfth president. The National Park Service approved the listing of the entire campus as a National Historic District, the only educational institution in the state to hold such an honor. New housing options were made available in the early 2000s in the form of the $13.1 million Lawson Court Apartment Complex. Historic markers were also added throughout the campus. Owens Flag Plaza, a centerpiece for the campus 'oval', was opened in 2004.

College Specialty


The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma is the state's public liberal arts college. Its mission is to provide the public with a distinctive and accessible liberal arts and sciences education



Famed Chickasaw storyteller Te Ata (Mary Thompson) graduated from OCW in 1919. Lotsee Patterson, founder of the American Indian Library Association graduated from OCW in 1959. Rick McCormick '79, college basketball coach, won NJCAA Men's Division III Basketball Championship in 2001 at Cedar Valley College Former Miss America Norma Smallwood was the first Native American to win the title. Irish professional boxer Oisin Fagan attended USAO on a soccer scholarship, and received a degree in journalism and physical education.



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