East Central University (ECU) is a four-year public university in Ada, Oklahoma, located in the south central region of the state. The university also has courses available in McAlester, Shawnee, Ardmore, and Durant.
The university began in 1909 as a normal school that taught high school and college classes. Some of its more famous alumni include former NFL player Mark Gastineau, past governors Robert S. Kerr and George Nigh, former U.S. Representative Lyle Boren, Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Tom Colbert, and U.S. Army General James D. Thurman.
The university was founded as East Central State Normal School in 1909, two years after Oklahoma was admitted as the 46th U.S. state. Its establishment was the product of the intense lobbying efforts of the 25,000 Club, a local booster group. As a normal school, East Central provided four years of "preparatory" (or high school) study, followed by two years of college work. Classes were initially held in local churches and public school classrooms. Graduates of the normal school program received lifetime teaching certification statewide.
The 1910 Oklahoma Legislature funded faculty salaries and a building on a 16-acre (65,000 m2) site donated by a Chickasaw allottee. In 1919, the normal schools were authorized by the Oklahoma Legislature to offer four years of teacher education, to offer bachelor's degrees, and were designated teachers' colleges.
Expanding beyond education degrees, in 1939 the school became East Central State College. In 1974, the state legislature renamed the state colleges, and it became East Central Oklahoma State University—a name it retained until 1985 when it gained its present name.
East Central is divided into 5 academic units (three colleges and two schools) with 68 degree programs. They are:
ECU serves roughly 4,500 students and is perhaps best known internationally for its cartography program, as only a few such programs exist. ECU is also home to an Environmental Health Science Program, one of only 30 programs nationally accredited by the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (http://www.ehacoffice.org/).
East Central is one of four participating institutions offering courses at the Ardmore Higher Education Center. There are also Distance Education sites located in Shawnee, OK, through the Gordon Cooper Technology Center and McAlester, OK through the Eastern Oklahoma State College. ECU offers online graduate and undergraduate courses.
East Central's athletic teams (the "Tigers") have competed in the NCAA Division II Great American Conference (GAC) since 2011, after competing in the Lone Star Conference of the NCAA from 1995 to 2011. Athletics offices are located within the Kerr Activities Center. In 1993, the Tigers won the NAIA national football championship against Glenville State 49-35 at ECU's Norris Field. In 2011 women's soccer won the inaugural GAC regular season Championship and the Conference tournament Championship. On November 20, 2008, the Tigers Men's Basketball team and Texas Tech set a school record for points scored in a game in a 167-115 loss to the Red Raiders.