Phillips University is still a live presence academically through the Phillips Legacy Foundation. Likewise through its alumni, it maintains an Internet presence. Digital copies of the Phillipian, the school yearbook, are available through Ancestry.com. Internet Archive has early catalogs and bulletins of Oklahoma Christian University. The pillars from the Sunken Garden serve as a logo for the school.
Phillips University, originally called Oklahoma Christian University, opened in Enid, OK in September 1907. Founded by the Disciples of Christ, the school was renamed Phillips University in 1912 to honor T.W. Phillips, one of its founders.
Phillips University was comprised of four colleges—Education, Arts and Science, Bible and Fine Arts. It also had a graduate school to train Disciples of Christ ministers. The 1927 Phillipian shows a student body of around 350 and a faculty of 33. The largest student organization was the Ministerial Association, with over half of the student body as members. This group provided pulpit supply for 70 area churches. The Zollars Literary Society, named for the school’s founder, had 50 members. Other prominent student organizations were the Masquers, a drama group; the Red Peppers, a school spirit group; and the Gridiron Club, representing the football team. Phillips University had its own National Guard unit.
Phillips became known for its strong music program. In April 1933 the school inaugurated the Tri-State Music Festival. In 1936 Professor Maurits Kesner started the Enid Symphony Orchestra. The school sponsored an orchestra, both men’s and women’s glee clubs, and a vespers choir.
Phillips experienced financial difficulties throughout the 1970's and 80’s. In 1987 the city of Enid purchased the school campus and rented it back to the Trustees in an effort to keep it open, splitting off the seminary, which moved to Tulsa. In 1993, Phillips Trustees repurchased the campus, but financial problems forced them to close the doors in the fall of 1998.
After the final sale of assets of the School all the outstanding debts were paid. Remaining funds after settlement of the debts were used to form the Phillips Legacy Foundation to provide scholarships for students to attend other institutions. The Legacy Foundation continues as a strong presence.
Bricks and Mortar
The 1927 Phillipian shows a relatively small campus composed of Old Main, the Bible College, the Fine Arts Building, the girl’s dormitory, and the Gymnasium. Built in 1907, Old Main was destroyed by fire in 1947. The campus landmark today is the 1949 Marshall Building, which housed the Bible College and the Chapel.
After Phillips closed, the Campus was sold to a group consisting of local civic leaders and Northern Oklahoma College, a two year state supported Junior College. Northern Oklahoma College currently operates the campus as a satellite to their main campus in Tonkawa, Oklahoma.
Marshall Building. (https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/15000868.pdf)
Team name: Haymakers
Colors: Maroon and Black
Phillips fielded an intercollegiate football team for the first time in 1908, its second year of existence. By 1920 the Haymakers had developed as a regional power and were a member of the Southwest Conference. In both 1920 and 1921 they were considered to be a Division-I program. The 1922 team scored 403 points in an eight-game schedule, losing only to Texas. Through the years the Haymakers played and defeated Oklahoma A&M, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Haskell, Wichita State, Texas, Denver, Hardin-Simmons, TCU, Arkansas, and Baylor. Phillips dropped intercollegiate football after the 1932 season.
The greatest player Phillips ever produced was Steve Owen, who played tackle in 1917-1918, captaining the 1918 team. Owen went on to play professionally at Kansas City and Canton before joining the New York Giants in 1927. He remained with the Giants as a player and coach through 1953. Owen is a member of professional football Hall of Fame.
Phillips played in the Oklahoma State Conference in 1926. That season, coached by former Phillips quarterback Everett Shelton, who went on to a Basketball Hall of Fame career as a coach at Wyoming, the Haymakers had a 4-4-1 record. They defeated Arkansas City (KS) JC, Randolph (TX) College, East Central (OK) State, and Central (OK) State. The Haymakers lost to College of Emporia (KS), the University of Texas, Tulsa, Southwestern (OK) State and Southeastern (OK) State. They played a 7-7 tie with Northwestern (OK) State.
In 1926-27 Phillips fielded teams in basketball, track and tennis. The most successful sport ultimately became baseball. Coached by Hall of Fame coach Joe Record, Phillips participated in three NAIA national tournaments. The basketball team made two appearances at the NAIA tournament in Kansas City.
1918 Phillips University Haymakers. Steve Owen is labeled #14. (National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Guide, <archive.org/stream/officialnational09nationa#page/n110/mode/2up>) accessed 10-28-2017