**For Immediate Release**
A Snapshot of the Past
-released by OPSU Campus Communications 10-19-07
By Sara Jane Richter
Goodwell, Okla. - Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma, serves the broad five-state area of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. In 1909, OPSU will celebrate its Centennial. As OPSU prepares for the next one hundred years, alumni, staff, administration, friends, and faculty look to the past to see just where OPSU came from. One hundred years is a long time, so research into the past century of the school provides some interesting glimpses into the history of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Panhandle, and education. The beginnings of the university on the plains are rather unique.
Oklahoma realized a need for an institution of farmer learning in the Panhandle in 1907, the year Oklahoma became a state. Later that year, C. A. McNabb from Guthrie, Oklahoma, Secretary of the Oklahoma Board of Agriculture, requested farmers in the panhandle designate a temporary president and secretary preliminary to establishing an education facility called the Texas County Farmers’ Institute.
By February 1909, Oklahoma Representative E. J. Earle of the Commission on Agricultural Education and his House Bill #368 established a “district Agricultural School of secondary grade.” In May 1909, the Texas County Farmers Institute became Pan-Handle Agricultural Institute located in Goodwell with a budget of $5000. Initially, the First State Bank housed classroom and administrative space. Oklahoma residents paid enrollment fees of $1.50 while out-of-state students paid $2.50 a month. Courses of study included drawing, music, elocution, and debate, and by 1915, teacher preparation became a curriculum choice.
At first, female students lived with local families, but male students lived in tents pitched on the lone, windy Panhandle prairie prompting the school to be dubbed “Tent Town” or “Rag Town.” The first permanent building—Hesper—opened in May 1910 with great fanfare. As finances allowed, more buildings were built. In 1921, the Legislature changed the school’s name to Panhandle Agricultural and Mechanical College and allowed it to offer 2-year college degrees. The legislature authorized PAMC to offer baccalaureate degrees in 1926, making the institution a full-fledged college. In 1967, PAMC became Oklahoma Panhandle State College of Agricultural and Applied Science. Renamed in 1974, the college officially became Oklahoma Panhandle State University.
Now with 21 buildings, OPSU rests on 120 acres and has a 1200–acre range unit plus a 960-acre livestock and crops laboratory. With graduating classes of approximately 160 students, OPSU’s graduates go on to graduate and professional schools and find employment with government agencies such as NASA, public schools, and the private sector. From humble beginnings, OPSU sees nothing but a bright future and looks forward to the many Centennial activities to celebrate its High Plains legacy.