Bacone College is Oklahoma's oldest continuing center of higher education and began in 1880. With the help of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, Professor Almon C. Bacone, a missionary teacher, started a school in the Cherokee Baptist Mission at Tahlequah, Indian Territory. The only faculty member, Professor Bacone, enrolled three students and began his work. By the end of the first semester, the student body had quadrupled; by the end of the first year, student population was fifty-six and the faculty numbered three.
Seeing the need to expand, an appeal was made to the Creek Tribal Council for 160 acres of land in Muskogee, the "Indian Capital of the World." The land was granted, and in 1885 Indian University was moved to its present site. In 1910, it was renamed Bacone Indian University after its founder and first president and was later changed to Bacone College.
Classes from first grade through four years of College met in Rockefeller Hall, a three-story building made possible by a $10,000 contribution from John D. Rockefeller. "Old Rock," as it came to be called, served as classroom, dormitory, dining hall, chapel, teacher quarters and administration building. It was razed in 1938 and Memorial Chapel was built in its place.
Professor Bacone dreamed of a school, based on Christian principles, for the education of American Indians. The college has retained its Christian heritage, but is not reserved strictly for American Indians. Its Mission Statement calls for meeting the "needs of American Indians in a multicultural setting." All students, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or religion are welcomed and encouraged to attend Bacone College. Throughout its history, the College has attracted Indian and non-Indian students. Bacone attempts to prepare students to function in the mainstream of society, without losing their culture and heritage.
The College has never lost its concern for the individual student. Learning is seen as a way of life that encourages flexibility, breadth of perspective, and respect for the contributions made to the quality of human existence by those of all ages and races. As the student body has grown and the needs of society have become more complex, the curriculum has changed to meet the needs of the students.
Bacone College accepts students with learning and physical disabilities and provides reasonable accommodation to help them be successful. Depending on the nature of the disability, some students may need to take a lighter course load and may need more than four years to graduate. Students needing accommodation should apply as early as possible, usually the semester before they plan to attend classes. Immediately after admittance, students need to identify and document the nature of their disabilities. It is the responsibility of the student to provide the College with appropriate materials documenting the learning and/or physical disability. This documentation usually consists of a recent high school Individualized Education Program (IEP) or results from testing done by a psychologist, psychiatrist, medical doctor and/or qualified, licensed individual. The College does not provide assessment services for students who may be learning disabled nor does the College have structured programs available for students with emotional or behavioral disabilities
The campus contains many reminders of Bacone's history, tradition, and goals. One of these is a small cemetery, the final resting place of Bacone Presidents Almon C. Bacone (1880-1896) and Benjamin D. Weeks (1918-1941), as well as others associated with the school over the years. Another reminder on the west side of the campus proper is a stone pulpit that marks the spot on which President Bacone and two Baptist missionaries who were also trustees of Indian University, Joseph Samuel Murrow and Daniel Rogers, knelt in prayer to dedicate to the Christian education of American Indians the 160 acres of land received from the Creek Indians.
Today the College offers an opportunity for reflection upon how we, of all races and ethnic backgrounds, can live, study, work and worship together in order to strive not only for a meaningful educational experience, but for a society committed to Christian values and principles.