On May 7, 1851, the Cherokee Nation founded the Cherokee National Female Seminary at Tahlequah, the same year that it opened a male seminary in its territory. This was after its removal to Indian Territory and part of its building institutions to support its future.
On March 6, 1909, after statehood, the State Legislature of Oklahoma passed an act providing for the creation and location of Northeastern State Normal School at Tahlequah, Oklahoma for the training of teachers. For this purpose, it purchased from the Cherokee Tribal Government the building, land, and equipment of the Cherokee Female Seminary.
In 1921, the name was changed to Northeastern State Teachers College as it had expanded to a full four-year curriculum. In the 1950s Northeastern emerged as a comprehensive state college, broadening its curriculum at the baccalaureate level to encompass liberal arts subjects and adding a fifth-year program designed to prepare master teachers for elementary and secondary schools.
With addition of graduate-degree programs, in 1974, the Oklahoma Legislature authorized changing the name of the institution from Northeastern State College to Northeastern Oklahoma State University; in 1985 it authorized a change in name to Northeastern State University. In 1979, NSU opened its College of Optometry, making it one of 14 schools in the United States to offer a doctorate degree in that field.
In the early 21st century, NSU is the fourth-largest university in Oklahoma. On March 6, 2009, NSU celebrated its centennial with Founders Day celebrations.
The Tahlequah campus, which spans over 200 acres (0.81 km2), was developed on the grounds of the Cherokee Female Seminary. The original building for the seminary is now used as Seminary Hall, an academic building. The campus has numerous classroom, laboratory, residential, and athletic facilities. In recent years the university constructed a $10 million Science Center, funded by a bond issued by the university.
NSU offers 69 undergraduate degrees, 18 graduate degrees and 13 pre-professional programs in five colleges (Business & Technology, Liberal Arts, Education, Optometry, and Health & Science Professions). The student-to-faculty ratio is 26 to 1, and in the Spring of 2008 the total enrollment for the Tahlequah Campus was 6,216. There is also a distance-learning program, by which students who cannot attend the university due to work or family obligations can complete courses via the Internet or videoconferencing.
The academic buildings are located throughout the campus. The buildings are:Seminary Hall
The Science Center
The Business and Technology Building (formerly Practical Arts Building)
The Fine Arts Building
The W. Roger Webb Educational Technology Center (formerly NET Lab)
Bagley Hall (Education Building)
John Vaughan Library
The CASE Building (Center for Admissions and Student Enrollment)
Northeastern has nine residence halls. They are the following:Haskell Hall (Second and Third floors only)
Isabell Cobb Hall
North Leoser complex
South Leoser complex
NSU's athletic teams are known as the RiverHawks. The university competes at the NCAA Division II level as a member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA). The university previously competed in the Lone Star Conference before joining the MIAA in 2012. It was accepted into the MIAA on July 30, 2010 during the conference's expansion from 12 to 16 members. NSU began play in the MIAA in the 2012-13 academic year. NSU offers eleven sports including football, baseball, softball, men and women's basketball, men and women's soccer, golf and tennis. In 2003, the men's basketball team won the Division II national championship, beating Kentucky Wesleyan 75–64.
NSU announced on May 23, 2006 that they would be dropping "Redmen" in favor of a new mascot to represent the school. Although the "Redmen" name was not deemed to be hostile or abusive towards Native Americans by the NCAA, restrictions connected to the use of American Indian nicknames could have affected future NSU athletic competitions had NSU not taken the initiative to comply before the Redmen name became an issue. The university announced its new athletic name as the RiverHawks on Nov. 14, 2006.
There are several restaurants on, or just off NSU's campus some of which include the Iguana Cafe, El Zarape, Sam & Ella's Chicken Palace (Pizza), The Town Branch Eatery & Pub, Flo's Cafe (located on campus in the Florence Willson Hall), and Vidalia's. The night life includes Ned's and Effex. Most notable to the nightlife around Northeastern State University was the infamous Rockhouse (located at 902 N. Grand). This legendary establishment was the hub of most campus activity and inspired the writers of the movie Animal House.
There are several campus organizations such as RHA (Residence Halls Association), NAB (Northeastern Activities Board), NSUSF (Northeastern State University Student Foundation), and NSGA (Northeastern Student Government Association) that provide alternate activities, usually free of charge for students to enjoy on campus. The NSGA is the official organization to represent the students of NSU. The purpose of the NSGA is to establish a representative student government and to provide a forum for student's views and ideas for the purpose of promoting and representing the students of NSU. RHA caters to on-campus residents and hosts such annual events as "Welcome Week Luau," Freshman Move-in Day, Mardi Gras, and "Resident Round-up". Northeastern State University also has a several fraternities and sororities located on the Tahlequah campus.
Created in 1993, the building serves as a place where musicians can practice performing and listeners can enjoy the music. In addition to a performance venue, the Jazz Lab is also the site of the jazz program offices and classes. The university has two student jazz ensembles, as well as several different combo groups, ranging in style from fusion, to Latin, to straight ahead. Recently the university has been awarded a bachelors in music- jazz studies degree. Every year the NSU Jazz Ensemble performs with regional, national, and international guest artists at the Jazz Lab. Many famous musicians have performed at the jazz lab since its creation such as T.S. Monk, Henry Johnson, Diana Krall, Mulgrew Miller, Bobby Watson, Bob Mintzer, Slide Hampton, Robin Eubanks, Wynton Marsalis, and Bobby Shew.
NSU's Muskogee campus was opened in 1993 as a 27,700-square-foot (2,570 m2) facility located on 23 acres (93,000 m2). The campus offers upper-level and graduate courses in education, business, general studies, nursing, industrial management. In 2001 the NSU Muskogee opened the Mike Synar Center in honor of Mike Synar, former U.S. Congressman from the 2nd District of Oklahoma from 1979 to 1995. The Mike Synar Center is a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) facility that is used for offices and classrooms. The center also houses the Master of Business Administration and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program for the campus.
NSU's Broken Arrow campus was opened in 2002 with a little over 1,000 students. Funding for the campus came from a one-half percent sales tax which was approved by Broken Arrow voters. The first phase of the campus included an administration building, a maintenance facility, and two classroom buildings. In 2004 the campus began a $26 million expansion made possible by Tulsa County's Vision 2025, which also funded Tulsa's new BOK Center. The expansion doubled the size of the campus and also allowed room for up to another 5,000 students. It also added a library along with science and classroom buildings. Construction was completed in the fall of 2007.Phyllis Fife, painter