Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Last updated
Northwestern Oklahoma
State University
NWOSU seal.png
MottoLearn Today, Lead Tomorrow
Type Public
AffiliationRegional University System of Oklahoma
President Janet Cunningham
Students2,095 (2017) [1]
Location, ,
United States
CampusMain campusAlva
Satellite campuses:
Colors Red and Black    
Nickname Rangers
Affiliations NCAA, Great American Conference
MascotRowdy Ranger [2]
NWOSU logo.png

Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU) is a public university in Alva, Oklahoma, with satellite campuses in Enid and Woodward. It offers both bachelor's and master's degrees.



In 1897, a normal school, or school for teachers, was established in Alva by an act of the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature. It was the second normal school in Oklahoma, charged with preparing teachers to serve the many one-room schoolhouses that covered the prairie. It was called the Northwestern Territorial Normal School. The new school's faculty consisted of the school's first president, James E. Ament, and two teachers. Classes were held in the Congregational Church until construction of the first building, the "Castle on the Hill", was complete in September 20, 1897.

In 1902 biology department head, Professor G.W. Stevens, established The Museum of Natural History at the school. The museum contains a large collection of biological specimens native to Oklahoma, as well as hundreds of Alaskan mammal and bird specimens collected by Stevens during a seven-month trip in 1908. The museum was closed from January 1975 to September 3, 1997, opening after extensive restoration efforts were performed. The museum is located on the second floor of the Jesse Dunn Building, and is the second oldest museum in Oklahoma. [3]

The "Castle on the Hill", 1901 Castleonhill.jpg
The "Castle on the Hill", 1901

The school became a four-year teachers college in 1919 and changed its name to Northwestern Oklahoma Teachers College. The school expanded in 1939 to include degrees in liberal arts as well as education, and its name changed again, to Northwestern State College. The final name change occurred in 1974 when the school was given its present name.

Northwestern's greatest tragedy happened on March 1, 1935, when the Castle on the Hill was destroyed by fire. In 1948, a contest was organized to adopt a new school fight song and a new alma mater. The winning submissions were announced in March 1949. Both were made by Floyd McClain, a 1940 graduate of Northwestern who was then attending the Boston Conservatory of Music. The new fight song was entitled "Ride, Rangers, Ride", and the new alma mater was entitled "Oh Northwestern". They are still the official fight song and alma mater, although band directors have altered the arrangements over the years. In 1957, a contest was launched to select a motto for the university. The motto chosen was "Learn Today, Lead Tomorrow", submitted by Kay Hutcheson, a junior student at Northwestern.

In 1951, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education authorized Northwestern to offer courses, transferable to the University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University, applying toward a master’s degree in education. In 1954, the board approved a program leading to a master of education degree at Northwestern.

In the fall of 1978 Northwestern implemented a program leading to a master of behavioral science degree. A nursing degree program was established in the fall of 1981 to respond to the nursing shortage in northwest Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Legislature passed legislation that created two new branch campuses at Enid and Woodward. Northwestern became one of the first institutions to establish a bachelor of e-commerce degree in the fall of 2000.

More than 100 years have passed since Northwestern Oklahoma State University opened its doors. Since then, it has progressed from a normal school offering only teaching certificates to an institution offering degrees at the bachelor's and master's levels. The 1897 campus of 40 acres (0.16 km²) without buildings in one town has now become more than 400 acres (1.6 km²) and 36 buildings located in three communities. The three faculty members and 68 students have increased to more than 220 faculty and staff members and more than 2,300 students.


Northwestern offers bachelor of arts degrees and bachelor of science degrees in more than 40 areas of study. The university’s academic programs are set up in two schools—the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Professional Studies.


The athletic teams for Northwestern are the Rangers. All sports compete in the Great American Conference, which include the following: men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf and rodeo; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, rodeo, soccer, softball and volleyball.

On May 11, 2011, Northwestern announced that they had accepted an invitation to the Great American Conference for all sports in the 2012-2013 academic year and would begin their transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II. On July 12, 2011 Northwestern Oklahoma State University was denied admittance into the NCAA Division II Membership Process for the 2011-12 cycle; the school was accepted one year later. [4]

Notable alumni

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  2. "Mascot". Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Archived from the original on July 31, 2016.
  3. "Museum of Natural History". Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Archived from the original on 5 April 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  4. "About the Great American Conference". Great american Conference. Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  5. "Major General Vaughn A. Ary". Headquarters, United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2015.

Coordinates: 36°47′45″N98°40′06″W / 36.79595°N 98.66834°W / 36.79595; -98.66834