History of the Ardmore Higher Education Center
From 1974 to 1989
Created by the Oklahoma State Legislature as a pilot project in higher education, the Ardmore Higher Education Program was the state’s first consortium model University Center. When the program originated in 1974, there were only ten courses offering classes from freshman through graduate-level and 110 students. Housed in Ardmore High School during its inaugural semester, the Ardmore Higher Education Program moved to the renovated Mt. Washington School in the fall of 1974 and increased its offerings to 24 courses. In 1977, the pilot program was made permanent by state statute and was placed under the administration of the Office of the Chancellor for Oklahoma Higher Education.
In the Early 1980s
The program had outgrown its surroundings due to quickly-increasing enrollment. A new building was constructed on property belonging to Ardmore School District. It was funded by a maintenance endowment from the Noble Foundation, which was matched by gifts for construction from the community-at-large. While the building was owned by the Ardmore School District, the program was awarded usage under a 20-year lease.
With expanded space, more than 750 students participated in 90 course offerings. Renamed Ardmore Higher Education Center, the program expanded, local involvement increased and an Advisory Board was formed in 1983.
1990 – Present
The Ardmore Higher Education Center continued flourishing throughout the 1990s and today, is providing educational opportunities to nearly 1,800 students per semester who enroll in more than 300 courses that are offered during the fall and spring semesters and 90 courses during the summer semester.
In 2012 the Oklahoma legislature officially changed the name to the University Center of Southern Oklahoma.
The University Center of Southern Oklahoma Today
Degrees are offered at the Associate, Bachelor (criminal justice, business management, elementary education, counseling, and nursing), and Master (business administration, education, human resources, and psychological services) levels. Individuals can also take courses that further their professional credentials as elementary school teachers, school administrators, school psychologists, school psychometrists, and licensed professional counselors. All degree programs are fully accredited through the participating college or university and students graduate with a degree from one of the institutional partners.
Students are either nontraditional, working adults, students who transfer to another college or university after completion of general education courses, or concurrent high school seniors. The average academic load per semester is two to three courses totaling six to ten credit hours.
Faculty and Staff
The University Center employs about ten staff members and provides office space to 15 individuals from the university partners. About 70 full-time and adjunct faculty members, all of whom are employed by their partner institutions, teach at the University Center. More than half of the ECU and SE faculty hold doctorate degrees. The faculty-to-student ratio averages 15:1.
The average tuition and fees for a freshman resident enrolled in 30 hours is $2,630.00. Scholarships, federal grants, and loans are awarded to qualifying students. Financial aid is administered through the university partners; the partners also award tuition fee waivers on a competitive basis based on financial need and academic achievement.
The 30,000-square foot University Center facility includes twelve classrooms, a library, administrative offices for University Center staff, and academic advisement/student services offices for the institutional partners. Due to the need for additional space, ten to twelve classrooms at Ardmore High School are used for evening classes.