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Murray State College and the UCSO leadership meet to make merger official

June 30, 2021


In an historic move, the University Center of Southern Oklahoma (UCSO) in Ardmore has become Murray State College Ardmore.  The merger was approved by both chambers of the state legislature before being signed into law by Governor Kevin Stitt on May 18.  On Wednesday, June 30, Keith King, chair of the UCSO board, met with MSC board members and MSC President Joy McDaniel to hand off keys to the building.

The UCSO began in 1974 as the Ardmore Higher Education Center.  The original building, owned by Ardmore City Schools, served as a shared facility allowing faculty and administration from Murray State College, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and East Central State University to offer classes. The current location, which was built in 2017 at 2901 Mt. Washington Rd., is on 103 acres within city limits on the north side of Ardmore. 

In addition to offering associate degrees, the focus of Murray State College Ardmore will be bringing bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, most of which will be in electronic format, to Ardmore and surrounding communities.  This will be accomplished through existing two-plus-two agreements and partnerships with various universities throughout the state.

 “Students will start by earning associate degrees from Murray State and finish with the university program of their choice.  Our job will be to facilitate this opportunity and provide services to enhance student retention and completion, thereby supplying a ready workforce with associate and advanced degrees to serve local businesses and industry,” said MSC President Joy McDaniel.       

“As far back as 2017, former president of Southeastern Oklahoma State University Sean Burrage and I made a presentation to the UCSO board about trends we were seeing in enrollment and the potential devastating impact those trends could have on operations.  Murray was very pleased last fall when the UCSO board asked for suggestions and we began to work with renewed effort and focus on a proposal that would provide viability and stability to students and stakeholders in the Ardmore area and surrounding communities,” added McDaniel.

One of the first, most visible outcomes at Murray State College Ardmore will be a reduction in tuition for students.  Tuition rates at the UCSO carried an additional $41 per-credit-hour-fee charged for ooperations.  For a three-hour course, the cost to students would have been $123 higher if taken at the UCSO as opposed to enrolling directly with the colleges or universities offering courses.  Murray State College Ardmore tuition will be set to match the cost of attending in Tishomingo.

“Murray State has an established history and campus community in Tishomingo and that isn’t going to change.  We want to bring the same value and excellence in education to Ardmore and the surrounding communities.  We have the technical infrastructure and long-standing relationships with sister institutions that will allow us to bring in new and exciting options for students,” said McDaniel. 

“Students tell us often they wish they could stay at Murray to earn advanced degrees and now that will be possible.  It’s very exciting to think of how this merger will make a real difference in our 10-county service area,” added McDaniel. “This opportunity will make Murray State College stronger and more viable now and in the future.”

Enrollment is open at Murray State College for the fall semester, with scholarship opportunities available on a continuing basis.  For more information visit Murray’s website at or contact Paula Henley at