Community and Location
The University is linked by tradition to the geographic region of southeastern Oklahoma and north central Texas. Although new programs have produced many changes in the geographic origin and the ethnic backgrounds of the student body, they are still primarily products of small towns and rural communities in Oklahoma and Texas. The present student body numbers approximately 4,000. Students are served at eight different locations, including a branch campus in McCurtain County.
Located in the southeastern part of Oklahoma in the city of Durant, the main campus is 15 miles from the Oklahoma-Texas border; 90 miles north of Dallas, Texas; 160 miles southeast of Oklahoma City; and 15 miles east of Lake Texoma (one of the largest man-made lakes in the world with approximately 580 miles of shoreline). Durant is a city in excess of 12,000 people. It is surrounded by productive farm land, excellent grazing land, three rivers, and a state park and recreational area. The economy of Durant is changing from one that has been primarily agricultural to one that is more diverse. This change has been influenced by the recreational opportunities at nearby Lake Texoma which serves more than five million visitors annually.
History of Development
On March 6, 1909 the Second Oklahoma State Legislature approved an act designating Durant as the location for a normal school to serve the following 12-county region: Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Choctaw, Latimer, LeFlore, Love, Marshall, McCurtain, McIntosh, Pittsburg, and Pushmataha. Southeastern Oklahoma State University first opened its doors to students on June 14, 1909, as Southeastern State Normal School. The early program of instruction consisted of four years of high school and the freshman and sophomore college years. The first sessions of the school were held in temporary quarters. In 1910, the Normal School Building, later called Morrison Hall, was constructed on Dr. J. L. Schuler’s peach orchard.
The original purpose of Southeastern was the education of teachers for the public schools of Oklahoma. The two-year graduates were awarded life teaching certificates. In 1921, the institution became a four-year college and was renamed Southeastern State Teachers College. The primary function remained that of teacher education and the degrees of Bachelor of Arts in Education and Bachelor of Science in Education were authorized.
In 1939, the purpose of the college was expanded. Courses leading to two newly authorized non-education degrees – Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science – were added. At this time, the college was renamed Southeastern State College. In 1954, the curriculum was enlarged by the addition of a graduate program leading to the Master of Teaching degree. In 1969, the name of the degree was changed to Master of Education.
On May 27, 1968, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education designated Southeastern as an Area Community College. While retaining previous functions, the college moved in the direction of providing greater post-secondary educational opportunities by expanding its curriculum to include new programs in areas such as business, technology, aviation, and conservation.
In 1971, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education requested that the state supported institutions of higher education review and evaluate their functions as members of the State System of Higher Education. Upon completion of the review, a comprehensive “Plan for the Seventies” was prepared by each institution and submitted to the Regents. On June 1, 1972, Southeastern submitted its plan to the Regents. They approved the plan on March 29, 1973.
On August 15, 1974, the name of Southeastern State College was changed to Southeastern Oklahoma State University by an act of the Oklahoma State Legislature. Since 1974, Southeastern, through institutional reorganizations, has continued to diversify, so that, presently, there are four academic schools:Arts and Sciences, John Massey School of Business, and Education and Behavioral Sciences. and Graduate & University Studies.