A higher education joke asks: Is it a university with a football team, or a football team with a university? Dr. Charles Dan Procter, president of the Oklahoma College for Women (now the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma), joked at a Rotary event in Iowa in October 1950:
“In Oklahoma, we’re trying to build a university the football team can be proud of.”
In February 1951, George L. Cross, president of the University of Oklahoma, went before a state appropriations committee. After being questioned why the Unversity needed so much money for education, Cross quipped:
“We’re working to develop a university the football team can be proud of.”
Cross didn’t get the money he had asked for, but his joke became famous. The almost identical Procter line. made a few months before this, has never been credited.
Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society
Charles Dan Procter
Dr. Charles Dan Procter served as the sixth president of the Oklahoma College for Women from 1943 to 1958. President Procter masterfully guided the Oklahoma College for Women through World War II. Procter headed up a state committee to sell bonds to finance the war effort. As a result, he forged several initiatives that benefited his institution. His efforts are reflective today on the now named University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma library, Fine Arts building, Student Union, Gary Hall, and the Historic Administration building, Austin Hall.
Wikipedia: George Lynn Cross
George Lynn Cross (May 12, 1905 – December 31, 1998) was a botanist, author, and the seventh and longest serving president of the University of Oklahoma from 1943 to 1968. Cross oversaw the expansion and construction of numerous university buildings and helped lead the college through the 1960s protest period.
Cross was known for his public speaking ability and quick wit. His most famous quote came at a budget meeting with state legislators. After a long presentation and 45 minute justification of the OU budget,a legislator asked him why the university needed more money. A frustrated Cross replied “I would like to build a University of which the football team could be proud.”
31 October 1950, Mason City )IA) Globe-Gazette, “Oklahoman Speaker at Rotary Forum,” pg. 3, cols. 1-2:
He quoted Lincoln, who said it is “good to be proud of your city but better to have your city proud of you.”
“In Oklahoma,” said the speaker, “we’re trying to build a university the football team can be proud of.”
(Dan Procter, president of the Oklahoma College for Women, Chickasha, OK.—ed.)
7 February 1951, Morning World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “Short Short Sports Stories,” pg. 22, col. 3:
Dr. George L. Cross, president of Oklahoma University, drew some chuckles from a state legislative committee with the declaration, “We’re working to develop a university the football team can be proud of.”
7 February 1951, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Sport Trail” by James E. Doyle, pg. 26, col. 1:
That’s the Spirit!
The University of Oklahoma came up with an All American lineman yesterday in the person of President George L. Cross, who knocked a state legislative appropriations committee for a loop with the line: “We’re working to develop a university that the football team can be proud of.”
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
3 November 1957, Niagara Falls (NY) Gazette, “Carnival” (comic strip), pg. 18, col. 1:
“"And as president I want to assure the trustees that we are doing the best we can to make Yahoo U. the kind of school our football team can be proud of.”
14,000 Quips and Quotes:
For Speakers, Writers, Editors, Preachers and Teachers
By E. C. McKenzie
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books
The head of a Mississippi college says he is trying to develop an educational institution the football team can be proud of.
The Norton Book of Sports
By George Plimpton
New York, NY: W.W. Norton
University of Oklahoma president:
“I want a school my football team can be proud of.”
The Oklahoma Sooners and the Greatest Winning Streak in College Football
By Jim Dent
New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books
A sleepy-eyed senator said, “I would like to ask the good doctor why he thinks he needs so much money to run this university?” Cross was floored. Then he pulled himself up and delivered one of the most famous lines in the history of the University of Oklahoma:
“Sir, I would like to build a university the football team can be proud of.”
The room fell silent. Seconds later, it was filled with laughter. But Cross didn’t get the funds.