Cameron’s first 100 years detailed in “Pride of the Wichitas: A History of Cameron University”

Photo of book coverThe Oklahoma Heritage Association has released "Pride of the Wichitas: A History of Cameron University," the latest edition in OHA's Oklahoma Horizons Series. The monograph was written by Dr. Sarah Eppler Janda, associate professor of history, who devoted more than a year and a half researching and writing Cameron's 100-year history from its inception as the Cameron State School of Agriculture in 1908 through the university's yearlong Centennial Celebration. "Pride of the Wichitas: A History of Cameron University" can be purchased for $29.95 at the Cameron University bookstore and in the CU Office of Public Affairs in the Administration Building, Room 150.

"When asked to write a comprehensive history of Cameron as part of the university's Centennial Celebration, I was initially overwhelmed by the thought," says Dr. Janda. "As my work progressed, I came to realize that Cameron's history is so much more than a dry, institutional analysis. There exist numerous poignant stories of dedication, success, turmoil and challenge which led me to a full understanding that Cameron has impacted the lives of thousands of individuals throughout its rich 100-year history."

"Pride of the Wichitas: A History of Cameron University" offers a comprehensive narrative of Cameron, starting with its simple beginnings in the basement of a bank building in downtown Lawton and detailing the institution's transformation into the University of Choice for southwest Oklahoma. The volume features countless anecdotes about Cameron students and faculty and also chronicles the abundant community support that has sustained and nurtured the school's growth for more than 100 years. 

Dr. Janda enlisted history students Joyce Turner, Kyle Lewis, Kris Underwood, Eric Nabinger, Kevin Chandler and Tyson Moll to write essays for the book. Introducing those students to research techniques and mentoring their work has been, for Janda, the most rewarding part of the project.

"Rarely do history students and faculty conduct research together," Janda explains. "The first time I met with my students in the university archive, I began to see the benefits of this sort of approach. I am so appreciative of their hard work, enthusiasm and willingness to contribute to the book."

Cameron President Cindy Ross provided the foreword for the volume, referring to it as "an important tribute and testimony to those who came before us. It is also a promise to those who will come after us, for it reveals the constant nature of Cameron University and its unwavering commitment to students."

CU student Jim Horinek volunteered to help with the photographs required for the volume, scouring the university archives and then scanning and cropping the more than 100 images that appear in the book. He also took some of the photos that appear.

Katherine Liontas-Warren, CU professor of art, contributed original artwork for the end pages.

Sarah Eppler Janda joined the faculty of Cameron University in 2001. She received her Ph.D. in American history in 2002 from the University of Oklahoma. She is the author of "Beloved Women: The Political Lives of LaDonna Harris and Wilma Mankiller," which offers a comparative analysis of two prominent Native American women and the interplay between feminism and Indian identity in their politically active lives.