Edmond offers higher education options
EDMOND — Higher learning and cultural enrichment opportunities continue to be abundant in Edmond, home to two growing universities and a college that provide top-rated programs and entertainment opportunities.
The University of Central Oklahoma, a year removed from its 125th anniversary celebration, welcomed its largest freshman class to the campus at University Drive and East Second, just east of downtown Edmond, and offers nearly 120 majors and another 70 graduate programs. UCO is part of the state-funded Regional University System of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Christian University, which abuts the south edge of Edmond on Memorial Road east of Eastern Avenue, was established in 1950 in Bartlesville and moved to Oklahoma City two years later. It offers more than more than 80 areas of study as well as a broad involvement in overseas mission efforts. Oklahoma Christian is affiliated with Churches of Christ and is privately funded.
Herbert W. Armstrong College is a privately funded, liberal arts college at 14400 S Bryant Road in far north Edmond. It opened in 2001, and in addition to offering majors in theology, applied arts, liberal arts and science, regularly provides top-notch entertainment to the community in a state-of-the-art performance hall.
This year the college, which is sponsored by the Christian-based Philadelphia Church of God, opened a new campus in the United Kingdom.
University of Central Oklahoma
Welcoming the largest freshman class in its 126-year history last August, UCO over the past year put into service a new residence hall, added a bachelor's degree and five new minors to its art programs and opened a new branch in downtown Oklahoma City.
Lindsay Thomas, UCO communications and marketing coordinator, said UCO's combined enrollment of 16,910 full-time students included a freshman class of 2,432.
UCO offers 117 undergraduate programs and 70 graduate programs, Thomas said.
Thomas said during the past year, UCO embarked on a $15 million campaign to upgrade on-campus athletic facilities. That followed the opening of UCO's CHK/Central Boathouse in the boathouse district on the Oklahoma River south of Oklahoma City's downtown.
The downtown branch, 131 Dean A. McGee Ave., will serve Edmond residents who work downtown and now can take courses in both locations, Thomas said. UCO Downtown offers undergraduate and graduate courses from the university's six colleges, as well as the UCO College of Business' downtown MBA program, she said.
Athletic facility improvements will include upgrades to softball facilities and a new Sports Performance Center. Phase I will include locker rooms, weight training facilities, a student-athlete study center, hydrotherapy, coaches' offices and team meeting rooms, and is expected to be completed in 2018.
Phase II will include an indoor practice field, indoor track and wrestling practice rooms.
Thomas said that UCO's centennial observance last year included the inaugural class of the UCO Luminary Society, which recognizes those whose service and contributions have positively influenced the university.
Renovation of Old North, the first higher education institution in Oklahoma, is nearing completion, Thomas said.
When finished, it will include administrative offices, classrooms, conference rooms, an historical classroom and a territorial library.
Also to be completed as part of the Old North revitalization is an enhanced entrance that links the west side of UCO's campus with downtown Edmond.
Thomas said construction is underway on a 17,000-square-foot expansion of Mitchell Hall Theatre to include new rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms, classrooms, a green room, a costume shop and makeup lab, an open gallery, student study lounges, faculty offices and a storm shelter that can hold more than 700 people.
Construction is scheduled to start in December on the 56,000-square-foot Interdisciplinary STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Teaching and Research Center north of the W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute.
UCO again this year hosted the Endeavor Games, the nation's largest multisport, multi-disability event. The games feature athletes of all ages competing in events such as archery, cycling, power lifting, track and field, swimming and wheelchair basketball.
UCO President Don Betz said that even though UCO has welcomed students from around the world during its 126-year history, its main role is to serve residents of a 150-mile radius of the Edmond campus.
“Central is in and of this place, and has been since our beginning,” Betz said.
Oklahoma Christian University
A private, coeducational Christian liberal arts university, Oklahoma Christian set its fourth straight enrollment record for the fall, and topped 2,500 students for the first time in its history.
The top 11 enrollment totals have come over the last 11 years, said Communications and Marketing Director Wes
Oklahoma Christian also marked success over the past year in its Thrive fundraising drive, with more than 7,000 donators giving close to $24 million to help the university complete 12 on-campus projects.
Moreover, the school was tops in the nation with 82 percent of its 2014-15 first-time students returning, McKinzie said.
The U.S. News and World Report and The Princeton Review have recognized Oklahoma Christian as one of the best
universities in the western United States, McKinzie said.
Oklahoma Christian President John deSteiguer said he is excited by the university's continued growth.
“Students come from all over our state, nation, and world because they crave the supportive home and successful future OC offers,” deSteiguer said.
“Oklahoma Christian is a place where lessons are learned, lives are changed, and the world becomes better. An OC education is designed to help our graduates make a living; but more importantly, it's designed to help them make a life — a life worth living.”
McKinzie cited a recent study that rated Oklahoma Christian as one of the best higher education values in Oklahoma, considering the university's low net price combined with its graduates' high starting salaries.
The most popular courses by enrollment continue to be nursing, mechanical engineering, biology, computer science, accounting and psychology, McKinzie said.
Other distinctive programs include the honors program, interior design, electrical engineering, computer engineering, medical laboratory science, international business and vocational ministry, he said.
Oklahoma Christian has more than 80 fields of study, an undergraduate Honors program and graduate programs in accountancy, business administration, computer science, engineering, Christian ministry, divinity, and theological studies.
The university also made strides in its athletic status, completing its first full year as a member of the NCAA's Division II, and its men's cross-country team winning the Heartland Conference championship.
The Dub, a modernized fitness center, recently opened on campus, McKinzie said, along with Hartman Place, a new outdoor space for rest, recreation and remembrance.
Academic honors came as well, as the university's history journal captured first in the nation and its ethics team finishing third in national competition. The student public relations firm placed in the national top 20.
McKinzie said the coming academic year will include the opening of a new campus coffee shop and on-campus Chick-fil-A Express through the Thrive fundraising initiative.
Herbert W. Armstrong College offers courses in theology, liberal arts and applied arts and sciences.
According to its website, the college's objective is to teach its students how to live, with academic programs geared toward helping students develop to their full potential mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.
Its scenic, 170-acre campus offers students the advantages of both rural and close-by metropolitan American life. The campus includes dormitories, a library, a dining hall, a multipurpose indoor athletic facility, a pool, athletic fields, student lounges, a bookstore, administration offices, faculty homes and classrooms furnished with modern multimedia equipment.
Armstrong Auditorium is the campus's largest and most elegant building, and hosts world-renowned artists who perform for the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation's concert series. It also hosts forums, music department performances, church services and other events, said Shane Granger, Armstrong College marketing director.
Total enrollment remains close to 600, with just under 100 full-time students living on campus and the rest part-time students enrolled in online courses.
Granger cited a milestone in Armstrong College's development as a higher learning institution in January with the opening of a new campus in Edstone, United Kingdom.
At a glance
For more information about UCO, call 974-2000 or go to www.uco.edu
For more information about OC, call 425-5000 or go to http://www.oc.edu
For more information about Herbert W. Armstrong College, call 285-6000 or go to www.
For more information about Armstrong Auditorium and entertainment events, call the box office at 285-1010 or go to www.armstrongauditorium.org.