About East Central University
I know you're going to like being an East Central University Tiger. I can speak from experience, because I once was a new ECU student myself.
I graduated in 1977 and had no idea I would return this year as its eighth president. It is both thrilling and humbling to come back to the school I love.
My family has a long tradition here. My grandparents attended ECU, both my parents are alums, and so are their three children. I met my wife Kay here and my two sisters met their husbands at ECU.
My mother and one of my aunts have master's degrees from ECU and one of my children went to school here for two years.
But my family is not the reason I came to ECU as a student. In fact, I was going to a larger school until I competed in a high school debate tournament here, saw the campus and met the ECU debate coach. He made me feel welcome, even wanted and needed at ECU.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
It is fun to reminisce about my ECU years, especially during this Centennial year, but I am more excited about how far this university has come and our plans for the future.
Above all, I want our students, faculty and staff to always remember the reason East Central University exists: To Educate Students.
When you choose ECU, you can expect to have highly educated faculty members, even full professors, in your very first year. I must admit that I did not appreciate the fact my children had teaching assistants, not professors, at larger universities. Our classes are small enough for professors to know your name. They often go out of their way to help students achieve their academic goals.
I want you to know that I'm here for you as well. I've lived in the residence halls and eaten in the cafeteria. I've had campus jobs and I used to study in the original Linscheid Library.
Today, though, there are so many more ways to learn, so many new things to learn about. It goes without saying that we provide our students with the latest technology. There also are more opportunities to meet students from different countries, new athletic teams to cheer and new programs leading to new careers.
We have nationally recognized academic programs and highly successful graduates. We also have the prettiest campus in Oklahoma.
I was in a couple of plays, so the new Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center really caught my attention. It is a beautiful state-of-the-art facility that will open so many doors for students and offer enhanced cultural opportunities for southeastern Oklahoma.
The huge improvements we're making in our athletic facilities show our commitment to our athletes and to winning. The new Pat O'Neal Strength and Conditioning Center is one of the best in NCAA Division II. Upgrades have been made to the football facilities in the Elvan George Building and to seating at the stadium, tennis courts and the baseball and soccer fields.
We have much to brag about, but still much work to do. Our faculty is always looking for better ways to teach their students, and our staff strives to assist them in any way possible.
East Central University was one of three normal schools established in eastern Oklahoma in 1909. Three similar institutions had been established earlier in the western half of the new state; each provided preparatory education including two years of college leading to teacher certification.
Ada's selection as the college's location followed intensive lobbying efforts by the 25,000 Club, a local booster club which also raised funds for faculty salaries so classes could begin that fall in local churches and public school classrooms. The 1910 legislature appropriated funds for faculty salaries and construction of a building which was completed later that year on a sixteen acre site which had been donated by Dan Hayes, a Chickasaw allottee.
In 1919 the six normal schools became teachers' colleges and began to confer bachelors degrees. In 1939 they added degree programs in Arts and Sciences and were designated as state colleges. In 1954 the six colleges were authorized to offer their first graduate work in a fifth-year program for teachers. Other master's degrees have since been added. In 1974 East Central became East Central Oklahoma State University which was changed to East Central University in 1985.
East Central has had eight presidents during its history: Charles Biles; James Gordon; Adolph Linscheid; Charles Spencer; Stanley Wagner; Bill Cole, Richard Rafes and John Hargrave. Distinguished alumni include four governors. Those serving Oklahoma were Robert S. Kerr, who is also noted for his career in the U. S. Senate, and George Nigh. Ernest McFarland, governor and U.S. Senator from Arizona, was a class mate of Kerr's. Varied Chickasaw and Choctaw governors and officials, including Governor Bill Anoatubby, also graduated from the university. Other East Central distinctives include pioneering efforts among Oklahoma universities promoting access to handicapped students and the development of corresponding undergraduate and graduate degree programs for rehabilitation services, services to the deaf, and similar areas. Today the campus consists of 37 buildings on 135 acres; the university typically enrolls more than 4,000 students per semester.