The University of Oklahoma is the state’s flagship public research institution, with a 31,000-plus student body and a reputation as the cultural and professional center for Oklahoma. OU was founded in 1890 by the Territorial Legislature, along with what would eventually be Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Oklahoma (though none were yet universities). Placed in Norman, OK, near the borders of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories, OU was intended to help bring civilization and modern industry to the region, which was still nearly two decades from statehood. Today, OU is widely recognized as a national, top-tier research university and a leader in education for the Southwest.
Academic ProgramsThe University of Oklahoma has a mission to be the caretaker and lifeblood of Oklahoma culture and industry, and as such OU’s most well-known and recognized programs are those most specific and appropriate to Oklahoma. Engineering is central, especially aviation, energy, and petroleum, all crucial parts of Oklahoma’s economy. OU is also home to the National Weather Center, making meteorology one of the university’s specialties. With its deep and proud Native American heritage, OU is also home to some of the most important cultural studies programs in American Indian languages, history, and culture, including dance.
OU is also central to medical education and health care in the state, with the OU Health Sciences Center (in Oklahoma City and Tulsa) serving as home to the state’s most significant medical, dental, pharmacy, and public health programs. The Ziegler College of Nursing, in particular, is one of the foremost nursing schools in the nation, with a history going back to 1911 and national recognition from U.S. News & World Report. From engineering to medicine, OU is dedicated to making graduates into leaders, with the highest number of National Merit Scholars in the nation and one of the highest number of Rhodes Scholars in history.
Student LifeOklahoma University has a student body of well over 30,000 students. While residential undergraduates make up the bulk of the student body, OU’s graduate programs and growing online degree programs attract a higher proportion of nontraditional and working adult students, making up about 20% of the student body overall. Diversity is highly prized at OU, with more than a quarter of the student body coming from minority ethnic groups, particularly Hispanic and Native American groups. A highly developed and well-organized Student Affairs department oversees events and organizations that help build community on campus.
Of course, one of the major elements of student life at Oklahoma is athletics. The Sooners are one of the most prominent Division I schools in the nation, with some of the most successful, championship-winning basketball and football teams in the NCAA. Men’s and women’s sports alike dominate their fields, from softball to wrestling. A traditional rivalry with the University of Texas – called the Red River Shootout – is a significant part not only of school culture, but of the state’s sense of identity as well.