Created by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a doctoral degree-granting research university serving the educational, cultural, economic and health-care needs of the state, region and nation.
The University's first president, David Ross Boyd, arrived in Norman in August of 1892. By 1895, there were four faculty members, three men and one woman, and 100 students enrolled.
Today there are more than 30,000 students at the University. It is Norman's largest employer, and the city itself has grown to a population of more than 110,000 residents.
The Norman campus serves as home to all of the university's academic programs except health-related fields. The OU Health Sciences Center, which is located in Oklahoma City, is one of only four comprehensive academic health centers in the nation with seven professional colleges. Both the Norman and Health Sciences Center colleges offer programs at the Schusterman Center, the site of OU-Tulsa.
OU has more than 2,600 full-time faculty members, and has 20 colleges offering a variety of bachelor's, master's, doctoral and doctoral professional, as well as multiples graduate certificates.
It is a majestic campus with meticulously manicured grounds. There are sculptures by internationally renowned artists, serene park and fountain settings, and soaring Prairie Gothic architecture in every direction.
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art has been acclaimed as one of the finest university art museums in the country, and it recently received the largest gift of French Impressionist paintings - the Weitzenhoffer Collection - ever given to a university.
Boomer and Sooner are the costumed mascots that represent the University and the OU Athletics Department. The characters are an extension of the Sooner Schooner and its horses to be enjoyed by fans -- especially children -- at all OU athletics contests.
The mascots were introduced at the Big Red Rally on campus on August 26, 2005. A number of groups participated in the process of researching and devising the new mascots over a period of nearly three years.
The OU Athletics Department and student leaders recognized the need for a mascot to provide representation at all OU athletics contests as well as attend charity events and visit children's hospitals.
With that in mind, student congress passed a resolution in favor of the development and implementation of a unified mascot. The Mascot Committee was formed and began work on what would become Boomer and Sooner.
The school colors of crimson and cream became official over a century ago and you can still see those colors worn proudly by Sooner athletes and fans alike on gamedays or when they want to show their love for the university.
In the fall of 1895, Miss May Overstreet was asked to chair a committee to select the colors of the university. The committee decided the colors should be crimson and cream and an elaborate display of the colors was draped above a platform before the student body.
The student body approved with great enthusiasm and immediately pennants, banners, badges and decorations of every description appeared on the streets, in the windows, at chapel, in classrooms, and all public places; however, local merchants could not supply the demand.
Even though the school colors have evolved to crimson and white over the years, you can ask any self-respecting Sooner what the colors are and they will proudly announce "Crimson and Cream."
On gamedays, a sea of crimson rolls through OU's home arenas and all Sooners are urged to wear the official colors to show the rest of the country what school spirit and Sooner Pride are all about.
During Oklahoma football and baseball games from 1915-1928, Mex the Dog wore a red sweater with a big red letter 'O' on the side. One of his main jobs was to keep stray dogs from roaming the field during a game in the days when the football field was more accessible to non-ticketholders.
Before his career as a mascot, Mex was just a helpless 'dog waif.' Then, a U.S. Army field hospital medic found him in Mexico in 1914 during the Mexican Revolution unrest. Mott Keys was stationed along the Mexican border near Laredo, Texas, and found the dog among a litter of abandoned pups one night on the Mexican side.
Mex was adopted by Keys' company, and when Keys finished his duty and moved to Hollis, Okla., he took Mex. He later attended OU and Mex followed him again.
At OU, Mex's experience as an Army medic company mascot landed him the job with the football team and a home in the Kappa Sigma fraternity house. He quickly became Oklahoma's most famous dog. 'A joyous staccato bark cheered Sooner touchdowns' at football games and a 'victory woof' punctuated home runs at baseball games. But Mex began to gain national attention in October of 1924 when the OU football headed north to play Drake.
Mex did not board the train in Arkansas City, Kan., as the OU football team and its boosters switched cars to head for Des Moines, Iowa, and the game. Missing their beloved mascot, the Sooners were shut out by Drake, 28-0. The headline from the Arkansas Daily Traveler on October 28, 1924 left no doubt as to the cause of the humiliating loss: "Crushing Defeat of Bennie Owen's Team is Charged to Loss of Their Mascot Here."
A 50-cent reward was offered. Mex was eventually discovered in Arkansas City pacing the train station platform. OU grads J.D. Hull, Hughes B. Davis and J.C. Henley recovered Mex and the men drove him to the next Sooner game against Oklahoma A&M in Stillwater.
Mex died of old age on April 30, 1928. He was so popular among students and faculty that the university closed for his funeral and procession on May 2, 1928. He was buried in a small casket somewhere under the existing stadium.
The Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band has been supporting Sooner Spirit for nearly a century. Unlike many other college bands, which began as military drill units, the Pride of Oklahoma had its beginnings as a pep band.
In the early years of the 1900s, both townspeople of Norman and students of OU participated in a band that played for football games.
Professor John Merrill started the first band in 1901, which was composed mostly of townspeople and disbanded after each football season. Lloyd Curtis founded the first continuous student band in 1904.
Today, the 300-member Pride of Oklahoma has members representing virtually every college and major on campus. The Pride of Oklahoma stands for excellence in musicianship, academics, school spirit, and commitment to our role in the surrounding community.
"Boomer Sooner" rings out at the end of each rehearsal, and that song is still the defining element of the University of Oklahoma.
Maybe that is why Sooner fans love the band so much: There is nothing that can compare to the first "go-go" at a football game when the Pride of Oklahoma marches the interlocking "OU" down the field playing "Boomer Sooner.
The Sooner Schooner is a conestoga (covered wagon) reminiscent of the mode of travel used by pioneers who settled Oklahoma Territory around the time of the 1889 Land Run.
Powered by matching white ponies named Boomer and Sooner, the Schooner races across Owen Field in a triumphant victory ride after every OU score.
The Schooner was introduced in the fall of 1964 and become the official mascot of the Oklahoma Sooners in 1980.
The Ruf/Neks, OU's all-male spirit squad, maintain and drive the Schooner. Mick Cottom, a freshman Ruf/Nek member from Liberty Mounds, Okla., has the distinction of being the first person to pilot the Schooner across Owen Field in 1964.
The Sooner Schooner and accompanying ponies are kept at the Bartlett Ranch in Sapulpa, Okla. Charley F. (Buzz) Bartlett and his brother, Dr. M. S. Bartlett, organized the Doc and Buzz foundation in 1964 for the purpose of presenting scholarships to deserving students. The most sentimental thrust of the foundation was the support of the OU mascot.
The sight of the Sooner Schooner rolling across the field is one that Oklahoma fans (and most opponents) will always cherish as one of the best traditions in college athletics.
At the University of Oklahoma, we seek to learn lessons from history. These lessons help us to create a fairer society for the future.
While many people know the nickname Oklahoma Sooners is uniquely linked to the University of Oklahoma and has become synonymous with excellence, some aren't aware of the roots, which reach to our state's Indian Territory origins.
Originally the home of several tribal nations of the Southern Plains, Congress set aside Indian Territory in 1830 as part of its forcible relocation of numerous tribal nations from their ancestral homelands via the Trail of Tears. Following the U.S. Civil War, some tribal nations lost portions of their new land in Indian Territory due to renegotiated treaties, which became known as the Unassigned Lands.
Pioneers, known as Boomers, vigorously campaigned to settle the Unassigned Lands, which were later incorporated into Oklahoma Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory became known as the Twin Territories.
Famously, Oklahoma Territory was opened for settlement through land claims races, or Land Runs, and in 1889, thousands made their way to the Twin Territories to participate in the first of these dramatic events. Each race began with a pistol shot, and those who jumped the gun were called Sooners. Later, Indian Territory was opened for non-native settlement, and in 1907 the Twin Territories were merged into one state ? Oklahoma ? which is the joining of two Choctaw words, "okla" and "homma," meaning "red people" or American Indian. Due to the enthusiasm of many pioneers and their descendants, "Sooner" came to denote energetic, "can-do" individuals.
The university embraces the complexity of our heritage. OU athletics teams were called either Rough Riders or Boomers for 10 years before the current Oklahoma Sooner nickname emerged in 1908.
Taken together, Oklahoma Sooners reflects our state's American Indian and pioneer heritage and, today, symbolizes a special university spirit that values resilience and perseverance as well as the inclusivity that unites all who are a part of the University of Oklahoma family.
When OU's first president David Ross Boyd stepped off the train in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1892, he was greeted with a barren expanse of prairie, no tree in sight. His only remark at this sight was "What possibilities!" At the University of Oklahoma, we have that same spirit: anything can grow if you have the drive to make it so.
In 1905, Arthur M. Alden, a student in history and physiology whose father was a Norman jeweler, wrote the lyrics to the fight song, borrowing the tune from Yale University's Boola Boola but improvising the words.
A year later, an addition was made to it from North Carolina's I'm a Tarheel Born and the two combined to form the university's fight song today. One of the most recognizable college fight songs in the country, Boomer Sooner immediately evokes enthusiasm from OU fans and sends chills down the spines of those who dare to oppose them.
Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner
Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner
Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner
Boomer Sooner, OK U!
Oklahoma, OK U!
I'm a Sooner born and Sooner bred
and when I die, I'll be Sooner dead
Rah Oklahoma, Rah Oklahoma
Rah Oklahoma, OK U!
The Pride of Oklahoma proudly plays perhaps the most popular and recognizable state song in history. Oklahoma! is the final rousing chorus of Rodgers and Hammerstein's epic musical.
Breaking all Broadway box office records when it opened in 1943, Oklahoma! was the first collaboration between the legendary pair who were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their seminal work.
Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin' lazy circles in the sky.
We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say:
We're only sayin',
You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!
Although heard at every Sooner football game, O.K. Oklahoma is perhaps the least familiar of all OU fight songs. Unlike Oklahoma, it didn't come from a popular song, and unlike Boomer Sooner itself, it wasn't created from existing songs.
Fred Waring (the same man who financed and promoted the blender named after him) was one of the most popular bandleaders of the early 20th century. His group, known as "Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians" (or "Fred Waring and the Singing Pennsylvanians") had best-selling records and top-rated radio programs of the day for various sponsors, including Ford, General Electric, and a few cigarette companies.
In 1939, Waring's show was on the NBC Red Radio Network, one of two owned by NBC's parent company, RCA. (In 1943, under FCC orders to break up a broadcasting monopoly, NBC sold its other network, the "Blue" network, to Edward J. Noble. It eventually became ABC.) As was the habit in those days, the program was named after its sponsor, so it wasn't the "Fred Waring" show, it was the "Chesterfield Hour."
As part of a promotion, Waring would compose a new fight song for any college or university whose students or faculty submitted enough signatures on a petition. The University of Oklahoma students rose to the challenge in 1939, and in response, Waring composed the music and lyrics to a new song, O.K. Oklahoma.
O.K. Oklahoma premiered in a live broadcast on December 1, 1939. Since then it has continued to be a part of Oklahoma football games. Today, it is played as the football team scores extra points after a touchdown and the Sooner Schooner rolls onto the field.
Somewhere through the years, this verse that begins with the song's name was dropped from the Pride of Oklahoma's playlist. The current arrangement, made by world-renowned composer and arranger John Higgins at the request of then-new band director Gene Thrailkill in the early 1970s, does not even contain music for the verse. (Pride Alumni who remember starting at rehearsal letter "A" are only skipping a Higgins-composed introduction.)
Higgins' arrangement is at least the third performed by University Bands on a regular basis - after the song premiered on the NBC Radio network, director William Wehrend wrote to Waring asking for the arrangement, promising that in return, the bandsmen pledged to smoke only Chesterfields!
The following is the original first verse of the song:
O.K. Oklahoma, K.O. the foe today.
We say O.K. Oklahoma, the Sooners know the way. 'Ray!
S double-O-N-E-R-S! We'll win today or miss our guess.
O.K. Oklahoma, K.O. the foe today.
We'll march down the field with our heads held high,
Determined to win any battle we're in,
We'll fight with all our might for the Red and White.
March on, march on down the field for a victory is nigh.
You know we came to win the game for Oklahoma,
And so we will or know the reason why!
We'll march down the field with our heads held high,
With ev'ry resource we'll hold to the course,
And pledge our heart and soul to reach the goal.
March on, march on down the field as we sing the battle cry.
Dig in and fight for the Red and White of Oklahoma,
So we'll take home a victory or die!
Every fan who wears the official colors, each current student and student-athlete and all OU alumni are encouraged to stand and raise one finger in the air during the playing of the Chant -- a symbolic gesture that shows the greatness of the university and the unity between all Sooners. The Chant was written in 1936 by Jessie Lone Clarkson Gilkey, who directed the OU girl's glee club from 1936 to 1938 and was voted Outstanding Faculty Woman in 1937.
Our chant rolls on and on!
Join heart and song
In alma mater's praise
Of campus beautiful by day and night
Of colors proudly gleaming Red and White
'Neath a western sky
OU's chant will never die.
Live on University!
In the fall of 1895, the first football game and first oratorical contest were held. It became necessary to formulate a yell. A number of University students formerly from Southwest Kansas College at Winfield, and members of the Sigma Nu fraternity suggested the original yell. Because it was hard to yell continuously and some felt it should be patterned after the Kansas yell, which would be short, appropriate and easy to give, a different version was presented and adopted.
Hi rickety whoop-te-do
Boomer Sooner, Okla-U!,
Hi rickety whoop-te-do
Boomer Sooner, Okla-U!