Phillips University was founded in 1907 under the name Oklahoma Christian University by Dr. Ely Vaughn Zollars in Enid, Oklahoma. For more than 90 years, Phillips University provided a high-quality, private education to thousands of students from around the world. The Phillips University experience was unique. The Phillips education centered around the four Pillars: spiritual development, intellectual development, and physical development as well as social interaction and growth.
Phillips University offered a climate of inquiry to the student, where, with his fellow students, he or she could grow, mature, and become a young adult, responsible for his or her own decisions. The University believed the student should be stimulated by a scholarly faculty both in the classroom and in the informal fellowship of campus life, and encouraged to venture into the fascinating world of ideas, thereby gaining insight into the rewards of intellectual curiosity. The aim of Phillips University was to enable students to acquire knowledge, develop judgment, and make decisions that are essential to a constructive, fruitful life. Kirby Hughes Gould ('83) described the Phillips University experience as follows -
It was a simple school teaching basic classes to ordinary people. Those people went on to be ministers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, business administrators; to serve their communities, their churches, their society. The magic and mystery of Phillips University cannot be explained, it can only be experienced. *
Many private liberal arts not-for-profit universities in the U.S. have experienced significant financial struggles over the years. Declining enrollment, pressure from low-cost state institutions, and inadequate financial support have contributed to the closure of many schools like Phillips University. Unlike these schools, Phillips University chose to tread a unique path. Rather than close the doors and walk away like so many others, the Trustees and administrators of Phillips University found a way to honorably close the school and sustain its ideals and mission for educating Christian leaders. Upon closure, the University paid all of its debts in full, worked to strengthen relationships with Phillips Theological Seminary, and invested most of its remaining assets in its educational mission through its own Seminary Scholarship Program and the Phillips University Legacy Scholarship and Leadership Development Program.
* Burke, Bob and Kenny A. Franks. In Reverence We Stand...Memories of Phillips University. Oklahoma Heritage Assoc. 2003.