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A Message from our Senior Fellow

At Dunham College you can have the best of the large and the small.  Outside our doors await all the opportunities that a major research university like OU offers.  But within we have something far more special than a typical dormitory:  we have a community made up of fellow students, as well as dedicated faculty and staff who combine to give our home a culture all its own.

Having a good time is a serious business at Dunham College, where you’ll find things like game nights, watch parties and All-College dinners.  However, you have the opportunity for more than that here.  When the American poet and essayist Wendell Barry writes, “It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are,” he epitomizes the spirit that imbues our college.  Your years in university should be about more than factual knowledge or career skills:  they should give you the chance to a wiser, deeper and more aware of how you can best serve yourself and others.  Our college motto—“Integrity, Perseverance, Wisdom”—defines three qualities that can only be won by experience:  either your own or that of other people.  When we read great books we can learn from the experience of others, giving ourselves better tools to face the challenges that lie before us.  And we can do the same when we form meaningful relationships with others, sharing life with them and hearing about their stories and the way they view the world.  This doesn’t mean that we’re principally interested in relationships because of what they can teach us.  They are themselves one of the most important purposes of human life.  To build sustaining relationships we have to do more than sit in front of the television with someone.  We have to really get to know another person and care about what that person has to tell us.  A small college is one of the best ways there are of making this happen, because it gives us shared purposes within a shared place. 

 Our College Council, made up of Dunham undergraduates, play a key role in shaping the community and its traditions, while our faculty fellows teach courses in the building and oversee special extracurricular programs based around two themes that are at the heart of our college culture:  leadership and personal development, and books and ideas.  They will bring in guest speakers to talk about poetry or volunteer opportunities, or lead forums on recognizing your vocation and cultivating your gifts.  In our monthly Socratic Club we gather around an important piece of writing, whether from ancient Greece or contemporary America, and talk about it not for the sake of a grade but because of the pleasure and sense of meaning that can be found in figuring it out together. 

If you’re an OU student, or you’re thinking about becoming one, please drop by Dunham College for a closer look.  Consider joining the first generation of Dunham fellows, as we shape the culture and traditions of an institutions that we hope to pass on to others for decades to come.

History of Dunham College

Dunham College was established in 2015 as one of two inaugural residential colleges of the University of Oklahoma. Created at the initiative of OU President David Boren, Dunham College and its sister college, Headington College, transformed the cultural and physical landscape of the university by providing a vibrant residential, social and academic experience.

In establishing the college, President Boren observed, “I see this as a vibrant community, where attachments are made between students, faculty and the university itself. It’s one thing if you are a commuter student living off campus and another if you live in the heart of campus. You feel it beating. You are a part of it and it is a part of you.” The goal is to create a permanent hub of activity on campus to be enjoyed by students throughout their undergraduate years.

There are three main parts to Dunham College: the College as a living space; the College as a learning place; and most importantly, the College as a fellowship.

Dunham offers an historic residential college model through an innovative scholarly community dedicated to a vibrant, engaging, and creative life. The institution draws on the best traditions of the University of Oklahoma to create a unique living and learning experience that places a premium on community, independence, and the pursuit of the very best in all aspects of life.

Student-led and student-designed programming and social events, unique seminars, creative and contemplative spaces, and close, informal interaction with the college faculty and staff are foundational to the experience of this student-governed college.

Dunham Shield

The shield of Dunham College is inspired by historical Dunham family shields from England. The Dunham shields of that time frequently featured azure (blue) and or (gold). The azure signifies integrity and the or signifies wisdom. The cord that separates the blue and gold pays homage to Mr. Dunham’s service in the United States Marine Corp.

One of three animals was frequently found on Dunham crests of England. The boarhead, the weasel, and the sparrow. The boarhead indicated a family that would not back down from a fight. The weasel indicated a family that was very cunning. The sparrow indicated a family that was quick to answer the call of the king. To add an Oklahoma flavor to the Dunham College crest, the sparrow was adapted to a scissortail fly-catcher, the state bird of Oklahoma, but the desire to be “quick to call” in times of need remains the same.

Our Benefactors: Linda and Archie Dunham

Linda and Archie Dunham are longtime friends of OU, often hosting student scholarship and alumni events. Mr. Dunham, who was born in Durant, OK, and raised in Ada, OK, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geological engineering from OU in 1960 and a Master of Business Administration degree from OU in 1966. Mrs. Dunham, who also grew up in Ada, attended East Central University.

After graduating from OU, Mr. Dunham worked for Conoco Inc., where he rapidly rose through the ranks and served in almost every area of the company. He was Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Conoco Inc. from 1999-2002, after being elected President and CEO in 1996. He became Chairman of ConocoPhillips Company in 2002. He was instrumental in orchestrating Conoco’s IPO separation from DuPont in 1998, the largest in US history, and in negotiating the merger of
equals between Conoco Inc. and Phillips Petroleum Company in 2002. Mr. Dunham currently serves on the Board of Directors of Union
Pacific Corp and Louisiana-Pacific Corp and is
the Chairman of Chesapeake Energy. He is also
a member of Deutsche Bank’s Americas Advisory Board. Previously, Mr. Dunham served on
the boards of DuPont, Conoco, ConocoPhillips, Phelps Dodge and Pride International. Mr.
Dunham currently serves on the Commission
on National Energy Policy and is a Board member of the CEO Forum. He is the past Chairman
of the National Association of Manufacturers,
the United States Energy Association and the
National Petroleum Council. In 2005, he was
appointed by President Bush to the President’s
Commission on White House Fellowships. In
2002, he was appointed by President Bush to the
President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure. He served in the US Marine Corps from 1960-64 and currently serves as a member of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. In 1998, Mr. Dunham was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

In addition to their support of Dunham College, Mr. and Mrs. Dunham have also invested in several other areas of the University of Oklahoma. They have helped create the Dunham Scholars Program in the Price College of Business, e Archie W. Dunham Student Leadership Center in the Oklahoma Memorial Union, the Archie and Linda Dunham Engineering Leadership Center in the Gallogly College of Engineering and generous scholarships in the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, the Gallogly College of Engineering and the Price College of Business. Mr. Dunham has also served as a Trustee at OU with the OU Foundation, Inc.