David Ross Boyd stepped off the train in Norman, Oklahoma, on August 6, 1892, and looked toward the southwest. There was not a tree or shrub in sight, wrote the former Kansas school superintendent just hired to serve as the University of Oklahoma s first president. Behind me was a crude little town of 1,500 people, and before me was a stretch of prairie on which my helpers and I were to build an institution of culture.
By 1895, five years after the University s official founding, the school boasted four faculty members (three men and one woman) and 100 students. Today the campus is home to more than 30,000 students and 2,700 full-time faculty and is one of the most respected public universities in the nation, with twenty-one colleges offering hundreds of majors at the bachelor s, master s, and doctoral level.
OU s remarkable journey from that treeless prairie to its present standing as a world-class institution of learning unfolds in "The Sooner Story. "Arriving upon the university s 125th anniversary, the book updates a history that last left off in 1980, when William Slater Banowsky was at the helm. Author Anne Barajas Harp examines the school s history through the lens of each presidential administration from the beginning of David Ross Boyd s tenure to the present moment in David Lyle Boren s presidency, now in its third decade. In describing what each president encountered in his turn, she captures the unique character, challenges, and accomplishments of each administration, as these reflect the university s growth and progress through the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Discouraged? Boyd wrote at his arrival in 1892. Not a bit. The sight was a challenge. "The Sooner Story" conveys the inspiration and excitement of meeting and renewing that challenge over the past 125 years."
The Sooner Story
University of Oklahoma Press
The University of Oklahoma, 1890-2015