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UCO is one of the state’s oldest  institutions of higher learning, founded in 1890 as the Territorial Normal School. Today, we’re a thriving metropolitan university. Check out highlights from our history below. 

2019 — Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar is named the 21st president of Central, becoming the university's first female president.

2017 — Old North, the oldest building of higher education in Oklahoma Territory, reopens after a multi-year, multi-million-dollar renovation.

2015 — UCO celebrates its 125th birthday with a yearlong UCO@125 celebration.

2015 — Central officially establishes itself as the place “where art meets the river” on the Oklahoma River’s boathouse district with the grand opening of the CHK|Central Boathouse.

2013 – President Betz is inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame as part of the 2013 class.


2012 – Central moved up the ranks among the top colleges and universities in the nation, once again ranking as the top public regional university in the state according the 2013 Best Colleges list from the U.S. News and World Report. In 2012, Central ranked number 27 in the list of Tier One institutions in the “Top Public Schools: Regional Universities – West” category. Central also moved to number 72 in the overall list of regional universities in the West, up from number 81 the previous year.

2011 – Don Betz is named the 20th president of Central.

2009 – Central dropped the “k” in its website address, moving from to

2008 – Wei Chein, Ph.D., assistant dean for the College of Mathematics and Science, received two major awards honoring his role as an outstanding educator and leader. He was awarded the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Regional University/Community, as well as an Oklahoma Medal for Excellence Award from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

2007 – Music Theater sophomore Lauren Nelson was crowned Miss America 2007. Additionally, the EPA recognized Central as a national leader in energy efficiency.

2006 – Central became the first major Oklahoma university to have 100 percent of its energy supplied by wind power. The Edmond university was also named an Olympic community partner and Olympic/Paralympic training site.

2004 – The Jackson College of Graduate Studies celebrated its 50th anniversary. The UCO Passport globalization program also began, with the initiative to annually expand understanding of different cultures through a festival event featuring a different country each year.

2003 – The formation of the Oklahoma Center for Arts Education is announced, and a redesign of the university logo is released.

2002 – UCO Jazz Lab opened to the public, offering classes during the day and live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

1997 – Roger Webb was named the nineteenth President of Central.

1996 – The new Education building was dedicated, and the Max Chambers Library addition officially opened.

1992 – Former state governor George Nigh was named the eighteenth President of Central.

May 18, 1990 – During the Edmond university’s Centennial Year, legislation was passed changing the name to the University of Central Oklahoma.

April 13, 1971 – The state legislature officially changed the institutions name to Central State University.

November 9, 1972 – Old North Tower was officially dedicated as a national historic site.

1971 – The college was authorized to grant the Master of Arts in English and the Master of Business Administration degrees.

1969 – The Master of Teaching degree became the Master of Education.

1954 – The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education gave Central permission to offer a Master of Teaching degree.

1939 – The state legislature passed a law renaming the institution. The new Central State College was authorized to grant degrees without teaching certificates.

1921 – The graduating class had nine members, and its members were the first to receive four-year degrees.

December 29, 1919 – The State Board of Education passed a resolution making Central a four-year teachers’ college conferring bachelor’s degrees. It was renamed the Central State Teachers College.

1904 – Territorial Normal became Central State Normal School. Statehood was still three years away.

June 16, 1902 – The Alumni Association is formed by graduates of the Territorial Normal School.

1897 – The first graduating class – two men and three women – received their Normal School diplomas.

January 3, 1893 – Occupancy of the Old North Tower began. The school first operated as a normal school with two years of college work and a complete preparatory school.

Summer, 1892 – Work began on Old North Tower, the first building on campus.

November 9, 1891 – The first class, a group of 23 students, met for the first time in the Epworth League Room, located in the unfurnished First Methodist Church. A marker of Oklahoma granite was placed in 1915 near the original site by the Central Oklahoma Normal School Historical Society. It can be seen at Boulevard and Second Street.

October 1, 1891 – Richard Thatcher is elected as the first President of the Territorial School of Oklahoma.

December 24, 1890 – The Territorial Legislature voted to establish the Territorial Normal School. The Territorial Legislature located the new school in Edmond. But first, Oklahoma County had to donate $5,000 in bonds, and Edmond had to donate 40 acres of land within one mile of the town. Ten of those acres had to be set aside for the new school. The remaining land had to be divided into lots that would be sold to raise money for the new school. Once this was accomplished, the city of Edmond also donated an additional $2,000 in bonds.