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A Message from President Burns Hargis

President Burns HargisDecember 2012

Dear Friends,

With record enrollment (state record highs of 4,289 freshmen and 37,052 across the OSU system), record fundraising (we’re closing in on our $1 billion Branding Success goal), and record new and renovated facilities that have transformed our campus, momentum and excitement at Oklahoma State University are at all-time highs. All this contributes to OSU’s land-grant mission of teaching, research and outreach.

We have enjoyed a great fall semester and are excited to recognize undergraduates and graduates during December commencement ceremonies. Distinguished alumnus and Oklahoma Chief Justice Steven Taylor will speak at our undergraduate ceremonies.

Telling our story is one of the primary purposes of OState.TV (, which launched online in September and serves as a single point for videos about OSU activities and people. You can easily search the channels by topics or colleges/campuses. OState.TV also offers great potential as an outreach tool to extend our learning and knowledge to a broader audience, and it serves as a valuable laboratory for our broadcasting students. In addition to the website, an app is available in the Apple store and an Android app is coming soon.

OState.TV features live events such as our TEDxOStateU conference. Alumni, headlined by Boone Pickens, faculty and students discussed important topics we face today as a society. TED talks are devoted to “ideas worth spreading.” TED is an acronym for Technology Entertainment and Design. This was the first of what we expect to be regular TEDx events at OSU. All presentations from the event are available at OState.TV.

The number one goal at Oklahoma State is to graduate our students and prepare them for success. Thanks to the work of OSU Career Services, we have been the only university in Oklahoma recognized by The Wall Street Journal for best preparing students for the workforce. We hold regular career fairs for our students and all three fairs this fall set attendance records.

OSU is committed to diversity and we were delighted to see our success in this important area recognized nationally when we received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award from Insight into Diversity magazine. This year, minority students accounted for an all-time high of 26 percent of the incoming class. 

Many undergraduates pursue graduate work and we are pleased the Graduate College hit a record enrollment this fall of 5,062.

Wellness is an important area of emphasis at OSU, which is championed by the First Cowgirl Ann Hargis. We have extended the use of campus facilities to employees at no cost to them and continue to strive to be America's HEALTHIEST Campus. Our wellness efforts cover all the bases – nutrition, mental and physical well-being, exercise, smoking cessation, recreation and more.

The Riata Center for Entrepreneurship in the Spears School of Business is only four years old, but continues to receive national recognition. The Riata Center won the prestigious NASDAQ Center of Entrepreneurship Excellence Award and was ranked among the best by the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine.

Recognizing that Native American children are at the highest risk for type-2 diabetes, Nutritional Sciences in the College of Human Sciences has teamed with the Chickasaw Nation to create Eagle Adventure, which addresses the issue through the tradition of storytelling and lessons. The program has received the Champion of Oklahoma Health award’s highest honor.

The School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration will be hosting its ever popular Wine Forum of Oklahoma in April of 2013. The theme is “Of Wine, Women and the West” and will feature TV’s Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, and Napa Valley wineries owner Beth Nickel. Vintners, many with Oklahoma connections, showcase their wines, offer classes on the wine industry, and provide great food. I hope you will consider attending.

College of Education graduate Elaine Hutchison, who is a mathematics teacher in Fairview, has been named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and is now in the running for National Teacher of the Year. It is the second consecutive year an OSU grad has earned the honor. In partnership with NASA, we hosted a downlink with the International Space Station for Stillwater sixth graders. It was a great event and you can watch it on OState.TV.

In the College of Arts and Sciences, physics faculty and students made significant contributions in the discovery of the Higgs boson, the long sought-after particle that gives mass to all things.

We are delighted to be one of three universities selected to establish a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter. Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honor society. It celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. This is a strong endorsement of the quality of those disciplines.

In the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, faculty from landscape architecture and plant and soil sciences teamed to release two new hybrid Bermuda grass varieties that offer improved winter hardiness and outstanding color and texture for golf course fairways, sports fields and high quality lawns.

Thanks to the continuing generosity of OSU graduate and former Chairman of Phillips 66, Wayne Allen, the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology has awarded elite scholarships to Mallory Hosey, who won the $15,000 W.W. Allen Boys & Girls Club Scholarship, and Seth Cleary and Clay Newton, freshmen who join the growing list of Allen Scholars. Each Allen Scholar receives approximately $86,000 in scholarship, enrichment activities and a study-abroad experience.

The OKState Racing student club broke its own 24-hour mileage and endurance world record for a compressed natural gas-fueled Formula race car. The students designed and built the racer and their work demonstrates CNG’s potential as a high-performance transportation fuel. I had the thrill of driving the car on an episode of “Inside OSU,” which can be seen at OState.TV.

The OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences continues to excel and is raising funds to add an Academic Center, which is essential for the recruitment and retention of highly qualified faculty and students. 

The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine welcomed a record first-year class this semester with 115 students. That is important as the state faces a shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in rural areas. The OSU Center for Health Sciences launched an initiative to recruit rural high school students to study medicine and become rural physicians.

With increased enrollment over the last several years, OSU-Oklahoma City has introduced a “commit to complete” initiative to improve retention and graduation rates. The academic adviser staff has been increased and the Student Success Center revamped.

OSU Institute of Technology has developed a five-year strategic plan to best support today’s job market. Efforts include increasing workers in the compressed natural gas industry and offering technical training for U.S. veterans reentering the civilian workforce.

As you can see, our faculty, researchers, staff and students are doing great things. Ann and I are truly blessed to have the opportunity to serve this remarkable University. Thank you for your support. Without it, this progress couldn’t happen. Together, OSU will become a premier land-grant university. 

Happy Holidays and Go Pokes!

Burns Hargis
Burns Hargis
President, Oklahoma State University

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