For 110 years, East Central University has served the greater Ada community, the region and the state itself with educational opportunities designed to empower its students to understand and transform the world around them.

Since its founding as East Central Normal School in 1909 and as part of the Regional University System of Oklahoma, ECU has been a beacon of higher education in the south-central portion of the state.

The university was renamed East Central State Teachers College from 1919-1939, East Central State College from 1939-1974 and East Central Oklahoma State University from 1974-1985 before finally becoming East Central University in 1985.

ECU has educated four governors – Robert S. Kerr, former governor of Oklahoma; Ernest McFarland, former governor of Arizona; George Nigh, former governor of Oklahoma; and Bill Anoatubby, current governor of the Chickasaw Nation.

In more than a century, ECU students have gone on to become leaders in the business world, and in education, science, politics and athletics. Many have made a name for themselves, not only at a local and state level but nationwide.

The educational experience students obtain at the university has certainly played a role in many of their success stories.

One way the university prepares its students for the future is a Memorandum of Understanding Agreement recently established between ECU and Oklahoma State University – Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, called the “3+1 Program.” OSU-CHS will admit ECU students who desire to become primary care physicians in rural and underserved Oklahoma. The “3+1 Program” then allows ECU students to complete their pre-doctoral medical training in seven years through three years of undergraduate education.

The university made the commitment to prepare students for graduate research in 2015 with the opening of the Raniyah Ramadan Center for Undergraduate Research and Learning. The center, established by Dr. Tawfik and Siham Ramadan and their family in honor of their late daughter Raniyah, sets the stage for many of its students to have a smoother transition into graduate school. The center features two biology labs and one each for chemistry and environmental health science.

The Chickasaw Business and Conference Center, which opened in 2013 and houses the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business, was installed with the latest in technological resources to enhance the students’ real-world learning experience, including the Kellogg & Sovereign Consulting LLC Financial Lab, which streams live stock market data.

In recent years, the Lanoy Education Building, which houses the College of Education and Psychology, has received major upgrades, technological and cosmetic, while being an anchor of the university since its beginning. Through these advances, the classroom training experience for future teachers has been tremendously improved.

The Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019. The center includes the spacious Ataloa Theatre, which features many concerts and stage productions. The facility also houses the Kennedy Band Hall and Pogue Art Gallery. Celebrations are in the planning process, and Ada and surrounding communities will be invited to take part in the planning as well as determining how the fine arts center can better serve the community.

ECU has ranked high in various educational website surveys and is making an impact on the community as well.

The university was recently ranked third in Oklahoma by the website Best and was also rated third in the state and second in public institutions within the state for low to zero debt by its students, according to the website The Student Loan Report.

ECU is making an economic impact locally, according to a recent report released by the State Chamber Research Foundation. The university is ranked second in the Regional University System of Oklahoma and third among the entire regional universities in the state in economic output. In the latest report, ECU generated expenditures of $96.5 million in fiscal year 2016 and supported $150 million in total economic output. ECU produced $9.80 in economic output for every dollar of state appropriations the university received.

The university has more than 70 degree programs and is divided into three colleges and two schools, including the College of Education and Psychology, the College of Health and Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business and the School of Graduate Studies.

Nicknamed the Tigers with Roary as its mascot, ECU also supports 11 NCAA Division II varsity sports — six for women and five for men — as they compete in the Great American Conference.