From an All-Girls School to one of the World’s Most Prestigious Universities


If it had not been for the school’s struggles during its first years, the University of Tulsa may not have been. Today though, Tulsa is home to one of the most prestigious private universities, The University of Tulsa. With an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church, and just like the state itself, the university offers a diverse program offering in computer science, clinical & industrial/organizational psychology, petroleum engineering and more.


Among the staff are political scientist Robert Donaldson, psychologist Robert Hogan and Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. The Gilcrease Museum is managed by the University with what is known to be the largest collection of American Western Art in the world.


The University of Tulsa began as a Presbyterian School for Girls in Muskogee. It was situated in Indian Territory and offered Creek girls a primary education. In 1894, it became Henry Kendall College. William A. Caldwell was the first president until 1896 with William Robert King taking over afterward. During King’s tenure as president, the college was moved to a larger campus and opened with the third president’s tenure.


Over the next decade, The University struggled and the 1906 – 1907 school year would have only 27 graduates. By administration’s request, the Synod of Indian Territory would take control and the trustees would look at alternate options for the school’s future. The town of Tulsa would approach the administration and the school was moved to the smaller town.


Two months before Oklahoma became a state, the school opened with 35 students who attended classes in the First Presbyterian Church while the campus was still being built. In 1908 the first building was completed, Kendall Hall, and soon after two other buildings were built. In 1972, Kendall Hall was the last of the three buildings that was still standing; it was razed but its bell is displayed in Bayless Plaza.