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A Message from President Burns Hargis


It’s hard to believe we have completed another school year. It has been a remarkable year full of academic success, campus growth, excitement in athletics and countless other campus activities. I want to provide you with this update of the year and future plans.

Dr. Tererai Trent speaks at OSU’s Spring Commencement.
We held nine commencement ceremonies across our five campuses this spring, with around 4,500 students receiving degrees. The commencement speaker at our three undergraduate ceremonies in Stillwater was OSU grad Dr. Tererai Trent, who was awarded an honorary doctorate. She is one of our most amazing and inspiring graduates. A native of Zimbabwe, she overcame tremendous obstacles to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from OSU. Oprah Winfrey named Dr. Trent her “all-time favorite guest.” She shared the story of her struggle to get an education in her home country and her efforts to provide girls there the same privilege. Her remarks and most of our commencement ceremonies were streamed live and can be found on OStateTV.

The year started with enrollment across the entire OSU System of more than 36,000 students. The freshman class was the second highest in OSU history and, based on applications and admissions for the fall, we could see another record year.

A major factor in our enrollment success is the OSU experience. Many students tell us they select OSU after making their first campus visit. Not only is the campus beautiful, but our people are welcoming. Many say, “OSU feels like home.” And for most students, the experience only gets better. A national survey ranked OSU among the “happiest” universities in the U.S. for its student experience and willingness among graduates to “do it all over again.”

We took a huge step in securing the future of our osteopathic medicine program with the announcement March 31 of an agreement with Mercy Health System to manage the 249-bed OSU Medical Center in downtown Tulsa.

This public-private partnership with the nation’s sixth largest Catholic health care system will allow us to upgrade our facilities, enhance health care delivery and draw upon the expertise and capabilities of an established regional health care system with tremendous scale and scope.

OSU conducts innovative research and technology transfer vital to our nation’s future. Our total annual expenditures on research activities are approaching $200 million and our expertise extends to nearly every area of our lives – energy, agriculture, the environment, food, health, national defense, sensors, unmanned aerial systems and much more. As a comprehensive research university, OSU is a leader in enhancing the learning experience with undergraduate research that begins the freshman year. We are committed to investing in the human and physical infrastructure to grow our research activity and serve society even better.

Our unmanned aerial systems efforts have received national press regarding our work to use unmanned aerial vehicles to collect data to improve the warning time for severe weather and tornadoes. The UAVs also offer great potential for search and rescue as well as agriculture. OSU was the first to offer a master’s and doctorate option in unmanned aerial systems.

From left: Gary Sandefur, Thomas Coon, Ken Eastman, Keith Garbutt
Subject to Regents approval we will have four new senior administrators this July.

  • Dr. Gary Sandefur will be our new Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. He is a native of Oklahoma and comes from the University of Wisconsin where he served as Dean of Letters and Science.
  • Dr. Thomas Coon will be the new Vice President, Dean and Director of the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. He was Director of Extension and Experiment Stations at Michigan State University.
  • Our own Dr. Ken Eastman will be Dean of the Spears School of Business. He has been at OSU since 1989 and had been serving as Interim Dean.
  • Dr. Keith Garbutt will be the Dean of the OSU Honors College, after serving as Dean of the Honors College at West Virginia University.

We do thank Dr. Pam Fry for her great leadership as Interim Provost and are happy she will continue in her role as Associate Provost. We also thank Dr. Mike Woods for his excellent work as interim Vice President, Dean and Director of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. And, we wish Dr. Robert Spurrier a long and happy retirement from his longtime leadership of the Honors College.

Happy 100-year anniversary to Cooperative Extension and the Spears School of Business!

We join with states across the nation to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Cooperative Extension. As a land-grant institution, OSU was created to educate, conduct research and extend its knowledge and expertise to the people of Oklahoma. Cooperative Extension does just that in a variety of ways.

The OSU Spears School of Business is home to nearly 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students across a broad range of majors. A milestone during this centennial year will be the groundbreaking for a new state-of-the-art business building in the fall. It will be located on Hester Street where Hanner Hall now stands.

We welcomed Oklahoma Governor and OSU alumna Mary Fallin to campus this spring to help us celebrate OSU’s selection as one of five universities nationally to receive a $1.45 million grant from the National Math and Science Initiative. “OSUTeach” is an innovative program to increase the number of secondary teachers in STEM subjects. Only 45 universities will ultimately receive the grant and OSU is one of the first and the only university from our region.

We were pleased to have Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin attend the launch of our STEM-focused OSUTeach Program. Joining me, from left, are National Math and Science Initiative’s Ronda Brandon, OSU College of Education Dean Sissi Carroll, Gov. Fallin, UTeach Institute’s Kimberly Hughes and OSU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Bret Danilowicz.

We continue to raise funds for our Branding Success Campaign. Thanks to the leadership gifts of Boone Pickens, campaign co-chairs Billie and Ross McKnight, and the support of more than 97,000 donors, we surpassed our $1 billion goal in April of last year. We continue to raise funds for a number of priorities including the new Performing Arts Center and School of Music, an addition to the Human Sciences building and business building. We hope to top 100,000 donors before the campaign officially ends December 31. Thanks to all who have donated to Branding Success.

The Branding Success Campaign has allowed us to connect, often for the first time, with alumni and donors from around the country. First Cowgirl Ann and I have enjoyed meeting orange-clad supporters in Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Denver, Kansas City and elsewhere. We routinely have more than 100 alums join us at each event. We will attend an alumni event in Greenwich, Connecticut, June 8, and appreciate Dorothy and Gerry Mayfield serving as hosts. Look for one in your area!

From our Night with OSU in Orange County in February.

I am pleased that, for the second consecutive year, OSU received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award. Our diversity efforts support OSU’s land-grant mission and commitment to make higher education accessible to all who are willing and academically able. We have doubled the enrollment of minority students the last five years and today, one in four is minority.

We continue to move forward on various campus construction and renovation projects. We are making great progress on University Commons, a new 1,000-bed residence hall to replace Kerr-Drummond in the area of the old track on Hall of Fame. Also, the Atherton Hotel will undergo a much-needed remodeling and expansion. The hotel will be closed from May until next spring. The beautiful Legacy Walk provides an iconic pathway from Monroe to Hester Street.

To accelerate our effort to be America’s Healthiest Campus, Dr. Suzy Harrington was named OSU’s Chief Wellness Officer. Suzy is the first fully dedicated such officer among U.S. universities. In addition to physical and mental health initiatives for employees and students across the OSU system, efforts include research, which we share through our extension offices. Earlier this year, we were named both a Certified Healthy Campus and a Certified Healthy Business by the state of Oklahoma. Few universities attain both honors.

On the OSU Stillwater campus, we have launched the first university campuswide Pet Therapy Program in the nation and opened the Cowboy Walking Trails.

We have trademarked the name “America’s Healthiest Campus” and are committed to living up to it!

We have been delighted with the response to the opening of the OSU Museum of Art in the Postal Plaza Gallery in downtown Stillwater. The first formal exhibition marked the first time most of the items have been displayed since OSU started collecting them in the 1930s.

In August 2014, thanks to OSU alum and former State Senator Charles Ford, an exhibition will open featuring art from the Oklahoma State Capitol. We also dedicated the Doel Reed property in Taos, N.M. It will house visiting scholars and be the site of teaching and research.

Stiletto Series #2, 1989, by J. Jay McVicker, former OSU art professor
Around our other campuses, OSU-Tulsa is celebrating 15 years of providing Tulsa-area students the opportunity to complete their degrees from a flagship state university. Since opening in 1999, OSU-Tulsa has served more than 30,000 students.

OSU-Tulsa continues to “Orange Up” with the Campus Gateway Project. Located on historic Standpipe Hill, the project is creating an iconic entrance to campus and increasing OSU’s visibility in downtown Tulsa. And, the gala dinner “A Stately Affair” raised more than $500,000 in scholarships for students, including veterans and military students, at OSU-Tulsa and OSU Center for Health Sciences.

OSU-Oklahoma City has launched an aggressive campaign to encourage students to pursue a nationally respected OSU degree in Oklahoma City.

Also, for the second consecutive year, an OSU-OKC team won the Small Business Division of the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Competition. Students Shane Barlow, Jennifer Bradley, Amanda Sandoval, Mayra Tello, Mario Young and faculty adviser Amber Hefner created a business model for X-pert Shot, a gun range for training and recreational purposes.

In Okmulgee, the OSU Institute of Technology rolled out a 25-year campus master plan that will guide Oklahoma’s only university of applied technology as it develops facilities to meet increasing industry demand.

OSUIT dedicated the opening of the Chesapeake Energy Natural Gas Compression Training Center in the fall. The state-of-the-art facility is the first of its kind in the energy industry, training students to service and maintain gas compression equipment.

OSU continues to garner recognition for our people and programs.

OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences was named the most affordable veterinary college for in-state residents in the nation.

We have saved more than $31 million in energy costs since July 2007 through our partnership with alum Bill Spears’ energy education company, Cenergistic.

Chacey Schoeppel, a junior from Fairview, is a Truman Scholar. She is the 17th OSU student to receive the prestigious honor, which includes a $30,000 scholarship.

Harrison Schroeder, a junior from Shawnee, Kan., is one of only 12 nationally to earn the Washington Internship for Students of Engineering, or WISE.

The OSU Trumpet Ensemble Orange won the National Trumpet Competition this spring.

Also this spring, the OSU Meat Animal Evaluation Team defeated 11 others to win the national title.

Finally, the iconic and updated OSU Student Union was named the No. 1 Most Amazing Campus Student Union in the country. As the home to nearly 500 student organizations, the Student Union certainly offers amazing opportunities to be involved. Nice to see others recognize what we have known all along!

Ann and I continue to count our blessings that we have been given this opportunity to serve OSU. We love it! We hope you have a happy and healthy summer! Come see us!

Go Pokes!

Burns Hargis
President, Oklahoma State University

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A Message from President Burns Hargis