Oklahoma Baptist University

A Brief History of OBU


The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) appointed an Education Commission.


Education Commission recommended that "a new Baptist University be established."


W.P. Blake was named chair of the Board of Trustees for the proposed new school. He served as an OBU trustee until 1917.


Certificate of Incorporation was issued February 9 for The Baptist University of Oklahoma.


School opened in First Baptist Church, Shawnee,  A ceremony was held on February 22 for the laying of the cornerstone for an administration building on a sixty-acre campus provided by the City of Shawnee. The school opened in the fall with Dr. J.M. Carroll as president. Classes were held in the First Baptist Church, Shawnee High School, and the Convention Center. Students selected green and gold as school colors.


The first OBU graduating class consisted of nine students. Operations were suspended after the spring semester because of financial exigency.


The BGCO annual meeting was held in Shawnee and messengers visited the campus to inspect the nearly-completed Administration Building.


School re-opened in September, and Dr. F.M. Masters was named OBU's second president.


Montgomery Hall, women's dormitory, was completed.


Campus was quarantined from October 11 to November 6 due to the great influenza epidemic of 1918. The bison was selected as the school mascot, and Ka-Rip was introduced by Fred McCaulley as the school yell. The Bison, student newspaper, was first published in December.


Dr. F.M. Masters resigned at the end of the spring semester. Dean F. Erdman Smith served as interim president until Dr. J.A. Tolman was elected OBU's third president. The new Gymnasium/Men's Dormitory was opened. The first edition of the school yearbook, the Yahnseh, was published.


OBU's first Harvest Queen, Lucille Quinn, was elected. The school's name was changed to The Oklahoma Baptist University.


J.A. Tolman resigned as president in May, and Dr. J.B. Lawrence became OBU's fourth president and also continued to serve as pastor of Shawnee's First Baptist Church. The Bison Press was established with a gift from the First Baptist Church of Miami. OBU's first Homecoming was held November 4.


Fall enrollment jumped 54 percent, from 382 to 589.


The Bison football team had an 8-1 record, outscored opponents, 285-15, and defeated the University of Arkansas, 6-0.


Dr. J.B. Lawrence resigned, and Dr. W.W. Phelan was named OBU's fifth president. The BGCO began regular financial support of OBU.


OBU relay teams won titles at the Texas, Rice, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Drake Relays. Fall enrollment of 812 was a level not reached again until after World War II.


OBU's 880-yard relay team was undefeated and captured titles at the Texas, Rice, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Drake Relays. WMU Memorial Dormitory for women students opened, the result of an extensive fund-raising effort by the Woman's Missionary Union of Oklahoma.


The Bison track team won relay titles at the Texas, Southern Methodist, Kansas, and Drake Relays.


W.W. Phelan resigned, and Dean R.E. Crump served as acting president. Then Dr. W.C. Boone was named OBU's sixth president.


Track star Riley Williamson represented OBU on the U.S. AAU team in a meet with Great Britain.


The Class of 1932 donated the bison statue and pedestal on the Oval. W.C. Boone resigned in October, and Hale V. Davis, 1925 OBU graduate, was named the school's seventh president.


Hale V. Davis resigned, and Dr. John Wesley Raley, chairman of the OBU Board of Trustees, was elected the eighth president, beginning the longest presidential tenure in the University's history.


OBU celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary at Christian Education Day. Dr. George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, was the featured speaker. As a class gift, the graduates of 1935 constructed a rock wall around the campus.


The men's dormitory was quarantined in April due to an outbreak of scarlet fever. Sam Allen, outstanding track athlete, won the 120-high hurdle championship at the National Collegiate Meet in Los Angeles. Sprinter Harold Cagle was a member of the U.S. 1600-meter relay squad which won a silver medal at the Berlin Olympics. Warren M. Angell was hired to replace Paolo Conte as dean of Fine Arts.


The J.W. Jent Apartments for faculty was opened. OBU's first Hanging of the Green ceremony was held in WMU Memorial Dormitory.


J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was OBU's commencement speaker and the recipient of an honorary doctorate. The Class of 1938's gift to OBU was the fountain on the Oval. A new men's glee club, known as Sangerbund, was formed. It later became the Bison Glee Club.


Freshman Pat Grant won the first of four consecutive Oklahoma women's amateur golf championships. Hymn to Alma Mater became the official school song. Mary Ann Tisinger wrote the words, and Dean Warren M. Angell composed the music.


Shortly after the Bison football team won the conference championship, the Board of Trustees voted to discontinue the sport because of financial losses.


A new University Gymnasium, funded by Shawnee citizens, was opened.


With many students involved in World War II efforts, enrollment dropped to 368.


OBU was officially accepted into the Oklahoma System of Higher Education by the State Regents of Higher Education. Bison Hill became a military training site for the Army's 91st College Training Detachment (Aircrew). Some 2,000 cadets were on campus over an eighteen-month period.


The University seal was designed by President John W. Raley.


W.L. Brittain Memorial Library and Art Center was opened.


Enrollment exceeded 1,000 for the first time. OBU's endowment fund was established with Baptist Foundation.


Brotherhood Dormitory was opened.


Shawnee High School juniors and seniors took classes at OBU after their building burned. OBU acquired 17 acres just north of the main campus. The former Men's Dormitory was renamed James N. Owens Hall in honor of the long-time faculty member. Bison Fieldhouse (later known as Clark Craig Fieldhouse) was opened.


The President's Residence and Parkway Apartments for faculty were completed. OBU began a bachelor's degree program in hospital administration.


A record 266 students graduated. The Korean War required the recall of some OBU students and faculty to military service.


Ford Music Hall was opened and named for Mr. and Mrs. J. Lloyd Ford.


Accreditation was received from North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. OBU began the state's first bachelor of science degree program in nursing.


Thurmond Hall, administration and science building, was completed. The Bisonette Glee Club was formed by Dean Warren M. Angell.


A new cinder track was completed and named for Dr. Divonis Worten. The Board of Trustees approved a motion by Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs, pastor of Oklahoma City's First Baptist Church, to allow African-American students admission to the University.


Mrs. W.S. Kerr Memorial Dormitory, named for the mother of U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr, was completed. The College of Fine Arts was named in honor of Dean Warren M. Angell, and the theatre in Shawnee Hall was named for Rhetta May Dorland, long-time drama teacher.


J.W. Storer and G.S. Baxter Wings, additions to Brotherhood Dormitory, were completed.


Groundbreaking was held in February for the new John Wesley Raley Chapel.


OBU celebrated the twenty-fifth year of John W. Raley's administration and the University's fiftieth year.


The nursing program was accredited by the National League for Nursing.


Dr. John W. Raley retired due to health issues. He was named chancellor and Dr. James R. Scales was named the ninth president. Raley Chapel was opened. OBU's music program was accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.


OBU launched the European-Study Program in the summer. The original building of the First Baptist Church of Shawnee was moved to campus and restored as a project of the Class of 1963. In 1906, the building hosted the final meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Indian Territory which merged with the Oklahoma Baptist State Convention to form the BGCO. The Tuneclippers, a new ensemble, was created to entertain U.S. Troops under the sponsorship of the USO.


The Bison Chorale (later the University Chorale) was formed under the direction of Dr. Richard Lin.


During January final examinations, a pilot flew an airplane into Shawnee Hall, crashing into one of the few empty classrooms in the building. The pilot was killed but no OBU students or employees were injured. The first unit of Bel-Air Apartments for female students was opened.


The Bison basketball team finished as runner-up at the NAIA national basketball tournament. The summer Academy Program for outstanding high school students was begun. Dr. James R. Scales resigned, and Dr. Evans T. Moseley was named interim president.


The Bison won the NAIA national basketball championship, becoming the first Oklahoma team to do so. Dr. Grady C. Cothen was elected OBU's tenth president. Fall enrollment reached 1,400 for the first time.


The Bison basketball team finished second in the national tournament. Bob Bass, NAIA basketball coach of the year, resigned to coach the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association. Al Tucker, All America center, was a first-round draft choice of the Seattle Supersonics of the National Basketball Association. OBU received its largest gift, a $5 million bequest from Mrs. Louise Prichard of Oklahoma City for an endowed scholarship fund for religious vocations students. The Bel-Air Complex for female students was expanded with completion of a second unit of apartments and a small dormitory.


The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accredited OBU's programs.


The University Center was completed and dedicated. A major curriculum change was implemented, including the Unified Studies core components and a 4-1-4 academic calendar format. Dr. Grady C. Cothen resigned, and Dr. Robert L. Lynn was named interim president.


OBU held its first January Interim Term. Dr. William G. Tanner was elected the eleventh president. The Mabee Fine Arts Center in Raley Chapel was completed and dedicated.


The E.E. Neptune Computer Center in Thurmond Hall and the Business-Communications Center in Shawnee Hall were opened.


Warren M. Angell retired after 37 years as dean of fine arts. Astronaut William R. Pogue, 1951 OBU graduate, was pilot of Skylab 4, launched in November.


David L. Boren, OBU associate professor of political science, was elected Governor of Oklahoma. Enrollment passed 1,800 for the first time.


Graduates exceeded 300 for the first time with 324 receiving degrees.


Dr. William G. Tanner resigned, and Dr. William E. Neptune was elected acting president. The Mabee Learning Center was completed and dedicated.


Dr. E. Eugene Hall was named OBU's twelfth president. Three units of the West University Apartments for female students were completed. OBU fielded its first women's intercollegiate scholarship sports teams.


WMU Memorial Dormitory and Brotherhood Dormitory underwent major renovation.


Schools of Business, Christian Service, and Nursing were established from existing programs in the College of Arts and Science. The University Center was re-named the Albert J. and Laura Belle Geiger Center for University Life.


OBU's first two endowed academic positions, the Auguie Henry and the Ida Elizabeth and J.W. Hollums Chairs of Bible, were endowed by Oklahoma City businessman R.A. Young and the Hollums Estate, respectively. Dr. E. Eugene Hall resigned, and J. Thomas Terry was named interim administrator. Dr. Bob R. Agee was elected OBU's thirteenth president. The Noble Complex for Athletics and the Elmer R. and Hattie L. Burns Apartments for married students were completed. The Bel-Air Complex was renamed the R.C. and Mildred Howard Residence Center.


In cooperation with the BGCO, OBU opened the Ministry Training Institute for off-campus courses in Christian studies. The Peitz Plaza, named for Lawrence Peitz, was dedicated.


The January Interim Term was dropped in favor of a May mini-term. The Roy E. and Jessie Newman Cobbs Apartments for married students were completed and the Ray and Fredda Devereaux East Apartments were acquired. The physical plant buildings were named in honor of Kenneth Eyer. OBU celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary and received its first recognition from U.S. News & World Report.


W.P. Wood Science Building and the Sarkeys Telecommunication Center were opened. The School of Christian Service was named for Dr. Joe L. Ingram.


OBU entered into a partnership agreement with China's Xinjiang University. The Jent Alumni Center and the Ferril C. and Phyllis Williamson Nursing Education Center were dedicated.


The January Interim Term was reinstated and the May mini-term dropped. Devereaux West Apartments for married students were completed. OBU's endowment topped $20 million for the first time. A new enrollment record was set at 1,967.


Montgomery Hall, opened in 1917, was removed because of structural problems. Enrollment passed 2,000 for the first time at 2,173. The School of Business was named in honor of Ardmore businessman Paul Dickinson.


Midland Apartments were acquired and MacArthur Apartments were constructed for male students. Two additional units of West University Apartments for female students were completed. The Bison won the NAIA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship. OBU assumed ownership of Tulsa Royalties Company, a private foundation.


For the first time, OBU was ranked in the Top 10 in U.S. News & World Report's listing of the best liberal arts colleges in the western region. Endowment exceeded $30 million.


OBU offered its first masters degree program in marriage and family therapy. The basketball Bison finished as runner-up in the NAIA national tournament. OBU entered into an agreement to recruit teachers for the Moscow Economics School in Russia. The Bailey Business Center, named for Tulsa philanthropist William S. Bailey, was completed.


A record 396 graduates received degrees in May commencement. Fall enrollment was a record 2,440, with 2,011 on campus. OBU held its first winter commencement in December. The Mabee Learning Center implemented an automated access system.


The Paul Dickinson School of Business was accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs. OBU launched its first internet web page, www.okbu.edu.


Endowment exceeded $40 million.


The basketball Bison achieved another runner-up trophy at the NAIA national tournament. Endowment exceeded $50 million. The Doris and Jim Taylor Residence Center for female students was opened.


Dr. Bob R. Agee retired after 16 years as president. Dr. Mark Brister was elected the fourteenth president. Brotherhood Dormitory was renamed Agee Residence Center to honor Bob and Nelle Agee.


Acquisition of land north of the campus enlarged OBU property from 125 to approximately 190 acres. Endowment exceeded $60 million.


A three-year renovation of Raley Chapel was completed. Endowment passed $70 million.


Renovation of the Art Building was completed. The Herschel H. Hobbs Baptist History and Heritage Center was opened in the Mabee Learning Center.


The men's basketball team brought home a second-place trophy from the NAIA national tournament. The theatre in Shawnee Hall was renovated and renamed the Cleo L. Craig-Rhetta May Dorland Theatre. The nursing program began a fiftieth anniversary celebration.


A study and evaluation of the Unified Studies curriculum began, culminating in adoption of recommended revisions in 2005.


The Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach was created. A Centennial Committee was appointed to plan for the school's 100th birthday in 2010. The Lady Bison won the NAIA Women's Indoor Track and Field National Championship. Endowment exceeded $80 million.


Clark Craig Fieldhouse, added to the campus in 1948, was removed to make room for the construction of new recreation facilities.


OBU's International Graduate School opened in Oklahoma City, offering a masters of business administration degree. The Lady Bison track team won its second NAIA national indoor championship, and the Bison track squad won its second NAIA national outdoor championship. The new Recreation and Wellness Center was dedicated. Dr. Mark Brister retired, and John W. Parrish was elected interim president.


OBU's new track complex was named in memory of Eddie Hurt Jr. The International Graduate School started a masters of science in nursing program. Bison Field at Ford Park, OBU's new baseball complex, was dedicated. Dr. David W. Whitlock was elected the fifteenth president. The purchase of 10 acres of land at the southwest edge of the campus increased OBU's property to 200 acres.


Trustees approved "OBU 2020: Vision, Mission, Values," a plan outlining strategic initiatives for the future based on the University's mission and core values. OBU received its largest single gift in history, approximately $7 million for endowed scholarships, from the estate of Dr. James T. Allen, a 1938 OBU graduate.


OBU celebrates its first 100 years!