David L. Boren Hall History
The Honors Program was launched at the University of Oklahoma by George Lynn Cross in 1963 with professor Paul Ruggiers, who served as the first director until 1969. The program provided small classes in honors courses taught by outstanding professors for students who desired increased academic challenges.
The program continued to grow under the Jeffrey Marshall, director from 1969 to 1974; Gwenn Davis, 1973 to 1987; and Nancy Mergler, who became the fourth director in 1987. A member of the psychology faculty, Mergler later went on to be Provost of the Norman campus in 1996.
The Honors program is a major attraction for outstanding high school graduates. By the year 2000, the University of Oklahoma ranked first in the nation per capita among public universities in the number of national merit scholars enrolled. Almost 10 percent of the entering freshman class had been selected as state Regent's Scholars for ranking in the top one half of one percent nationally in standardized academic test scores.
When David Boren became president of the University in 1994, one of his goals was to provide intense intellectual challenges at a comprehensive public university that would equal those available at smaller private institutions. In order to put more emphasis on the Honors Program and to provide it with more resources, the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents in 1996 approved former President Boren's request to elevate the Honors Program to college status. At Boren's recommendation Steve Gillon, professor of American History at Oxford University in England, was named as the first Dean. Gillon, a distinguished scholar who had taught at Yale and Brown Universities before going to Oxford, was also widely known as the official historian of national television's History Channel.
A combination of private gifts, including one anonymous gift of $5 million from an OU graduate, and public bond funds helped make possible the expansion of the faculty and the restoration and expansion of the existing residence hall as it became home to the new Honors College.
Investments in the Honors College have enriched the entire university as all honors faculty teach classes in their own fields outside of the Honors College. In addition, the Honors College serves as a catalyst for enhanced academic achievement at the entire university. More than half of the students who end up graduating with honors degrees were not qualified to enter the program when they first enrolled as freshman. They earn admission to the program during their college careers through improved academic performance. By the year 2000, 1700 undergraduates were participating in the Honors Program each year.
Adams Center History
Constructed as a residence hall in 1964, Adams Center was officially named in 1965 for K.S. “Boots” Adams, a former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Phillips Petroleum Company. Adams and the company made one of the first large private gifts to the university during the administration of former President George Lynn Cross. Adams was a civic leader in Bartlesville and the state.
The center is made up of four residential towers: Tarman, Muldrow, McCasland and Johnson. These were named in honor of four prominent individuals who distinguished themselves as leaders in their own communities and among OU alumni.
Tarman Tower - is named for long time Norman resident Fred E. Tarman. From 1922 until his death in 1977, Tarman worked at the Norman Transcript newspaper where he served as the editor and publisher. He served as one of the three original trustees of the University of Oklahoma Foundation and played a large role on several university committees.
Johnson Tower - is named for the family of Neil Johnson, a pioneer resident of Norman, who was a founding member of the OU Dads’ Association, an organization that in 1994 merged with the OU Mother’s Association to form the Parents’ Association.
McCasland Tower - named after T. Howard McCasland, who distinguished himself as a student athlete and as a generous alumnus. As a student the University of Oklahoma, McCasland played football and basketball, while holding numerous leadership positions on campus. Following his service in World War I, McCasland became a key figure in several alumni organizations. He too was an original trustee of the University of Oklahoma Foundation, and in addition, served as President of the OU Dads’ Association, President of the Alumni Association, and he was a charter member of the Touchdown Club. In 1959 he received the Distinguished Service Citation from OU in recognition of his extraordinary efforts.
Muldrow Tower - named for Hal Muldrow, who served as a former state senator and a two-star General who commanded Oklahoma’s famed 45th Infantry Division, better known as the “Thunderbirds.” Muldrow, during his four years as an undergraduate, was involved in the ROTC program and lettered three times as a lineman for the Sooner football squad while gaining a position as a leader in the Student Council. Like Tarman, he also served as one of the University of Oklahoma Foundation’s original trustees. Muldrow helped to co-found the successful Agar-Ford-Jarmon & Muldrow Insurance Agency in Norman.
Cate Center History
First occupied in 1949 as a freshman women's dormintory, Cate Center was originally called the Women's Quadrangle and housed 53 women. Today it is a coeducational residence hall. In 1960, the Women's Quadrangle was renamed Cate Center in honor of Roscoe Cate.
Cate was born on January 16, 1906 in McAlester, Indian Territory. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1926 with a degree in journalism. In 1937, after being employed as a writer of several local newspapers, Cate returned to the University of Oklahoma to become the editor of Sooner Magazine, OU's official publication for alumni. In 1944, his keen eye for business attracted the attention of George Lynn Cross, and Cate became the chief financial adviser to the president. Six years later, the Board of Regents appointed him Financial Vice President of the University.
Couch Center History
Built in 1966 to house and provide dining services for undergraduates, Couch Center was one of the final building complexes constructed under President George Lynn Cross' administration (1943 - 1968). Part of the efforts of George Lynn Cross to sustain the University's growth through the expansion and modernization of the housing system, Couch Center allowed OU to expand by enabling the university to house 833 additional students and providing facilities to feed even more.
Couch Center was named for Dr. Glenn Carmer Couch (1909 - 1966). A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Couch rose from a job as an assistant in a botany classroom to become Dean of the University College and one of the most popular administrators in the school's history.
Born in July 25, 1909 in Alfalfa County, Oklahoma, Dr. Couch received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Ecology from the University of Oklahoma in 1931 and in 1937, respectively Couch's first love was botany. In 1932, he began his service with the University as a botany classroom assistant. He earned his PhD at Ohio State in 1940, and in 1941 he returned to the University of Oklahoma to become an associate professor of botany. As a professor, Couch worked to develop improved teaching methods. He continued to teach students for the remainder of his career, even after his appointment as Dean of the University College in 1945.
When Dr. Couch was named Dean of the University College, he was charged with advising campus freshmen. His personal contact with nearly every student made Couch a prominent and well-liked figure at the university.
In 1963 Couch developed the University Scholars program, which was a tuition, fees and book scholarship awarded to 50 top high school seniors each year who chose to attend the University of Oklahoma. During his time as dean of the university college, Dr. Couch also served as chairman of the pre medicine advising committee. He continued his own scholarly research until his death on November 5, 1966.
Walker Center History
Walker Tower was constructed in 1966 during the final phase of former President George Lynn Cross' plans to expand university housing to accommodate the enormous growth OU's student body had experiences during his tenure. Initially a part of Couch Center, the residential tower had been given the name Couch North. However, the Board of Regents officially changed the name of the building to Walker Tower in 1970 to honor Edward A. Walker, a prominent banker and Oklahoma City resident.
Edward A. Walker was born on March 8, 1871, in Johnson County, Illinois. He pursued a liberal arts education at various schools and colleges, and ultimately studied law at the University of Texas. In 1896, Walker was quickly admitted to the bar of Oklahoma Territory and established a legal practice in Ardmore, Oklahoma. After nearly nineteen years of serving society's disadvantaged, he became a bank executive. Walker served as president of three banks; Tradesmen's National in Oklahoma City, Love County National in Marietta and First National of Ardmore. In addition, Mr. Walker became involved in the petroleum industry and real estate.investment. According to the 1931 edition of "Who's Who in Oklahoma, " his real estate holdings across the state exceeded those of any other individual. In 1938, Walker was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in recognition for his years of success and service to his community.
Edward A. Walker died on May 31, 1951. Following his death, his widow, Mrs. Mary Walker, continued the couple's devotion to education, including the University of Oklahoma and to charity. Mrs. Walker died in 1965. Her will designated that property and money be given to the University of Oklahoma as a memorial to her husband, the late Edward A. Walker, attorney, banker, oilman, and philanthropist.