Since its beginning, the OU College of Professional and Continuing Studies (PACS) has evolved to meet the academic and professional demands of our students, becoming internationally recognized in higher education for serving nontraditional learners. Although some things have changed over the past 60 years, the college’s aim has remained the same: To fulfill the educational needs of a diverse group of learners.
Although PACS (then the College of Continuing Education) didn’t welcome its first students until 1961, the seed was planted decades earlier. The University Extension Division was formed in 1913 to provide off-campus services for adults, mainly serving those in rural Oklahoma. The division gradually expanded its programs, reaching nearly 18,000 people by the early 1950s. In July 1953, Thurman J. White, dean of the University of Oklahoma Extension Division, sent a report to OU President George L. Cross suggesting that the university expand the extension program beyond rural Oklahoma and into the non-rural population. The majority of extension work was going to the rural population. By that time, however, farmers represented only 25 percent of the population.
The idea was originally met with skepticism, but in 1957 the W.K. Kellogg Foundation approved a $1.845 million grant to build the Thurman J. White Forum Building and other structures to form the Oklahoma Center for Continuing Education (OCCE), what would later become a self-contained community for adult learners.
The Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree plan is approved by the OU Extension Council, the Council on Instruction, the OU Board of Regents and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
The Regents create the College of Continuing Education as an academic unit, appointing Thurman J. White as dean. In March, the first students are enrolled in the program.
OU President George L. Cross constitutes faculty for the BLS, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York awards a grant to implement the new BLS degree, one of the first degree programs in the country designed specifically for working adults.
The dean’s office is expanded to include administration functions.
The College of Continuing Education complex officially opens. All buildings except the Administration Building are completed, providing instructional, housing, and dining facilities for the college.
The college hosts its first Industrial Development Institute.
The first Bachelor of Liberal Studies degrees awarded to a graduating class of seven students.
Advanced Programs is established.
Time capsule is placed in Forum to be opened October 19, 2040.
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education officially approved the program for the Master of Liberal Studies degree.
OU President J. Herbert Holloman reassigns Thurman J. White to vice president of promotion and special projects and places Dr. Edward Katzenbach in charge of the Extension Division.
The College of Continuing Education changes its name to The College of Liberal Studies.
CIDL begins participation in “Talkback Television” to facilitate distance learning, specifically for the Masters of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science.
CLS institutes the BLS Upper Division to serve students who have completed lower division work.
CLS launches the Master of Liberal Studies with Museum Emphasis to serve active museum professionals.
Dr. James Pappas becomes vice provost for Continuing Education and Public Service.
CIDL becomes a member of the Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NPACE) program and adds two-way compressed audio and video education capabilities to two classrooms for engineering exchange courses between OU and Oklahoma State University and for delivery of the Master of Library Science and Information Studies to Tulsa.
The Sooner Flight Academy is launched.
The OU Aviation Department (established in 1947 as a Department of Aeronautics) is transferred to the College of Continuing Education and introduces two Bachelor of Science programs — Professional Pilot and Aviation Management.
The BLS/Administrative Leadership Concentration, a two-year weekend bachelor’s degree program, is created.
CIDL launches the OneNet audio/video system for distance learning.
CLS adds three career options in MLS — Administrative Leadership, Interdisciplinary Education, and Health and Human Services.
CLS begins offering online courses.
OU Outreach is created. Dr. Pappas becomes the vice president of Outreach.
CIDL implements IP Video conferencing capability in three classrooms.
The BLS/Internet Guided Interdisciplinary Studies option is developed as a curricular alternative using the Internet as a new teaching and learning tool. BLS degree options include Administrative Leadership, Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences.
The College of Liberal Studies is brought under the University Outreach umbrella.
Dr. Pappas becomes vice president of University Outreach and dean of the College of Liberal Studies.
Brock International Prize in Education established by John A. Brock of Tulsa.
CLS holds its 40th anniversary celebration in the form of a symposium at which Madeleine R. Grumet, dean of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill School of Education, is keynote speaker.
The Master of Liberal Studies 50/50 Administrative Leadership program is developed.
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approve 100 percent online degree options for both bachelor’s and master’s programs.
The Economic Development Institute is affiliated with the newly created International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
The Aviation department adds a third Bachelor of Science degree track — Aviation Management, Non-Flying.
The BLS and MLS Interdisciplinary Studies programs are offered online. All courses changed to three credit hours, letter-graded.
OU LEAN institute founded as part of a contract with the OKC Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB.
CLS offers travel/study program to Heidelberg, Germany.
First full-time faculty hired. First issue of the e-journal, Journal of Museum Studies, was published.
Aviation adds major and minor in Air Traffic Control.
Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is introduced.
First hybrid undergraduate course offered at selected sites in Oklahoma.
Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies approved.
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies approved.
The Bernard Osher Foundation awarded the first of two grants to CLS to establish the Osher Reentry Student Scholarship at OU.
First-ever master’s degree in prevention science degree approved.
Bachelor of Arts in Administrative Leadership approved.
Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership approved.
OU Aviation becomes nation's first university program to establish a direct hiring pipeline with American Eagle (now Envoy).
FAA designates OU Aviation as Technical Lead Institution for the Center of Excellence for Technical Training and Human Performance.
The College of Liberal Studies is renamed the College of Professional and Continuing Studies.
Martha Banz is appointed Dean of PACS.
OU LEAN institute rolls out a virtual Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification program.
Dr. Martha Banz is appointed Dean of PACS.
Sooner Flight Academy rolls out virtual camps, including a new Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) camp, along with an Augmented Reality app.
The WorkSooner program is launched.