East Central University has empowered students to understand and transform our world for more than 110 years.
Since its founding in 1909 as one of the state’s first schools for the training of teachers, the university has inspired hundreds of thousands of students, including three U.S. governors — Robert S. Kerr and George Nigh of Oklahoma and Ernest McFarland of Arizona — along with current Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby.
East Central University was one of three teacher training schools established in eastern Oklahoma. Three similar institutions had been established earlier in the western half of the state and each provided preparatory education leading to teacher certification.
The university was founded as East Central State Normal School, two years after Oklahoma was admitted as the 46th U.S. state. It was one of six new state-funded normal schools that were designed to provide four years of “preparatory” (or high school) study, followed by two years of college work towards teacher certification. Graduates of the normal school program received lifetime teaching certification statewide. The 1910 Oklahoma Legislature funded faculty salaries and the construction of a building on a 16-acre site donated by a Chickasaw allottee. In 1919, the normal schools were authorized by the Oklahoma Legislature to offer four years of teacher education, to offer bachelor’s degrees and were designated teachers colleges.
Expanding beyond education degrees, in 1939 the school became East Central State College. Fifteen years later, the regional colleges were allowed to offer graduate degrees. By 1974, the state legislature renamed the state colleges, and it became East Central Oklahoma State University — a name it retained until 1985 when it gained its present name: East Central University.
Other East Central University distinctions include pioneering efforts among Oklahoma universities to promote access for handicapped students and the development of corresponding undergraduate and graduate degree programs for human services careers. Today the campus consists of 37 buildings on 135 acres. East Central University typically enrolls more than 4,000 students per semester.