While the day-to-day changes on campus may not be as noticeable, the university has changed tremendously in the past fifty years. And who better to provide testaments to the university’s growth than professors who double as alumni? Peggy Hill, Bill Hinkle and Earl Johnson provide insight into just how much this university has changed for the better by sharing their experiences as former students.
Probably the largest and most noticeable change that the university has experienced in the last century would be the campus’ immense expansion. It has grown from only 20 acres holding a single college when it was founded in 1894 to over 200 acres holding four colleges.
Hinkle, who enrolled in 1966, notes that the campus growth has allowed more students to live on campus. “Back in the day, it was like going to ‘13th grade’ because everyone simply drove to TU, went to classes, then drove back to their home in Tulsa,” he explains. “Very few people lived on campus.” The growth has included expansions for a lot of the older buildings, as well as the construction of new ones.
When Hill, who also enrolled in 1966, was a student, Oliphant Hall had only two floors and was home to the College of Liberal Arts. “The space now occupied by Languages was set up as two large amphitheaters, a bit like the one in Lorton, because basic classes would have 150-200 students each,” she explains. “7th Street was also open from Harvard to Delaware, and across the street from Oliphant was a sort of malt shop. It was either where the BSU is now, or the Physical Plant offices, and most everything south of 7th Street was a neighborhood with houses that graduate students could rent, or actual Tulsa residents!”
The campus’ expansion has led to a growth in the student population as well, with over 4500 students currently enrolled. Johnson is especially proud that the university can offer a home to an increased number of international students. “The international student population has become an even greater source of pride for TU as students from over 70 countries add to the broad diversity of our university experience,” he comments.
The university has seen a growth in curricula, too. Not only has the University of Tulsa developed new colleges and degree programs, but it also offers a variety of classes not offered fifty years ago.
“The curriculum back then was very different than the Tulsa Curriculum we have now. There were virtually no choices, even in your major. I still recall that everyone had to take three specific humanities classes, four specific social studies classes, one religion and one philosophy, and two English writing,” Hill explains. “We had a very strong liberal arts education, but almost no choices.”
Hinkle even has his very own Collegian story from his time here as a student. Serving as an editor during his junior and senior years, he faced his own share of controversy, the most notable of which involved the campus dorms. “When I was at TU, we only had two dorms, Lottie Jane Mabee and John Mabee. The women’s dorm had a curfew with hours ending at 11 p.m. Sunday through Friday and midnight on Saturday. You should have seen the number of coeds climbing out of the bottom floor windows into the waiting arms of their boyfriends most every night after rooms were checked by the dorm curfew squad,” he says.
“The men’s dorm did not have any curfew hours. So, for the sake of political correctness and great journalism, I decided to write an editorial to ‘right the wrongs’ of the current administration in terms of the unequal treatment of females at TU. My last line was exceptionally brilliant: ‘I guess the TU administration hasn’t figured out that a coed can get just as pregnant at 2 p.m. as she can at 2 a.m.’ Bad career move. The editorial was distributed on Thursday in the edition which proceeded Parents Day/Homecoming, so thousands of potential readers and parents would be on campus. Dr. Eugene Swearingen, the university president at the time, immediately enlisted his administrative team to comb the campus, picking up every Collegian so the highly-controversial editorial would remain out of sight.”
The University of Tulsa has come a long way since it was founded. Hinkle’s experience is just one of many these professors had at TU over the years, as they’ve seen the university grow and change.