BURNS HARGIS: investing in higher education | New

My wife, First Cowgirl Ann, and I have been truly blessed to serve Oklahoma State University. It was the most rewarding period of our career. We will miss the incredible energy of our campus.

As we conclude our 13-plus years at OSU, we would like to warmly thank the leaders and citizens of Stillwater. We have accomplished a lot together. The city and the university have a long and successful partnership that has created one of the best college towns in America.

I also want to thank the heads of state throughout my years in the state of Oklahoma for their support and commitment to higher education. They prioritized state universities and colleges while making tough funding decisions for Oklahoma residents.

The most recent example is the fulfillment of the pledge to fund the state’s innovative and transformative twinning program for endowed chairs.

Funding is the biggest challenge facing higher education institutions in Oklahoma and the state’s dollar-for-dollar correspondence program, enacted 35 years ago by an OSU alumnus and then the governor. Henry Bellmon, urged donors to “partner” with the state to attract and retain faculty for success.

The program worked so well that the state was forced to cap it in 2008. Just before the cap went into effect, the late Boone Pickens offered Oklahoma State a $ 100 million challenge match. University which triggered a wave of donations. Boone’s gift demonstrated the power and potential of the state twinning program, but it was also a significant addition to a backlog.

This spring, heads of state solved the backlog and gave Oklahoma a huge boost to higher education.

The Endowed Chair program strengthens faculty recruitment initiatives by providing a consistent source of investment to support our faculty in their teaching, research and service activities in critical disciplines such as energy, engineering, agriculture and medicine.

In turn, the program, especially investment in research, will contribute to the development and advancement of the economy of our state. And it attracts students with stronger academics and broader opportunities.

There are many people to thank for this momentous bill: Governor Kevin Stitt, President Charles McCall; President Pro Tem Greg Treat; the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of House and Senate Supply, Senators Roger Thompson and Chuck Hall, and Representatives Kevin Wallace and Kyle Hilbert; and the senators and representatives who supported the bill.

I am ending my term as OSU President knowing that the state’s higher education institutions are in a better position today because of the wise action of the leadership of Oklahoma.

I also leave knowing that the future of the state of Oklahoma is bright under the leadership of its new president, Dr. Kayse Shrum. She is ready to guide the university to continued success. Go Pokes!

Burns Hargis is retiring as president of Oklahoma State University on July 1.

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