"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

125 years ago today

Old North, from a Christmas card this year
Today, 125 years ago, what is now the University of Central Oklahoma began as the first teacher's college in Oklahoma Territory.
This is my 26th year as a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, formerly Central State University, Central State College, Central Normal School. There's much to-do, as there should be this year about this milestone.
Prairie icon years ago
Within two years, what is now "Old North" was erected on the prairie. Many years later I actually attended my first journalism classes in the building. It was a strange circular journey in life that brought me back here to teach. The building has been closed for years now because of structural decay, and refurbishing and additions have been underway, as budgets and fund-raising allows. 
Today, except there's construction fence around her
Still, though, it is an icon for many Oklahomans. Almost anywhere you go in this state, when people hear you teach at UCO,   someone will say they went there, or a relative or friend did. They, and we, joke about the name changes, with "Central State" the most common, and usually, we just settle on "Central."
It's a good school, with many great programs, respected around the state, having grown from those small beginnings to about 17,000 students.
An earlier watercolor
All of this is, as my faculty colleagues joke, "In spite of," not being treated equally in budget allocations with other colleges in the state, and in the face of less and less state support.
But I'm proud of the place...we have great students and great alumni, and judging by their successes, I think we do great work.
I've painted "Old North" many times. Happy Birthday, UCO.


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