University of Oklahoma President David Boren announced today the discovery and unveiling of a piece of the University’s early history.
A building plaque from 1892, which originally was affixed to the front of the University’s first building, has been discovered and returned back to the University. The plaque, made completely of stone and etched with the names of the University’s first regents and Oklahoma’s territorial governor, A.J. Seay, will be installed and permanently displayed in Oklahoma Memorial Union.
“This plaque from the University’s first building is a glimpse into the early beginnings of the University of Oklahoma,” Boren said. “I am thankful for Mr. David Harper’s preservation of this history. We look forward to sharing it with many more generations of OU alumni.”
The plaque first came into the possession of Harper, a former OU employee, in 1967. Having just recently graduated from Norman High School, Harper worked on OU’s campus in the summer of 1967, where he discovered the stone in a University storage facility, where items designated for surplus or demolition were stored. Rather than let the large stone be destined for disposal, Harper asked to keep it safe, holding on to it for more than 40 years.
Harper approached Boren about this piece of history after meeting him at a Norman, Okla., voting location for the November 2012 presidential election. Harper offered to return the plaque to the University, noting Boren’s interest in the preservation of the University’s history.
After receiving the plaque from Harper, Boren directed David Levy, OU historian and David Ross Boyd Professor, and John Lovett, curator of the Western History Collection and director of Special Collections at OU, to verify the plaque’s history. Utilizing both the markings on the plaque itself and archived information within the University, Levy and Lovett were able to confirm the origin of this historic piece.