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February 19, 2012

Oklahoma State University Research Week starts Monday

STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State University’s ninth annual Research Week kicks off Monday, as the school plans on paying special tribute to its role as a land-grant university.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act of 1862, which created land-grant universities. OSU has embraced its land-grant role, said Stephen McKeever, OSU vice president for research and technology transfer and Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Technology.

Many of this year’s Research Week events, which includes speakers, symposiums, performances and presentations, will focus on how OSU has succeeded in meeting its land-grant mission. The themes this week, he said, will be innovation, entrepreneurship and student involvement.

“150 years is a reason for celebration,” he said. “We’re on the right path, and this is exactly what a land-grant university is meant to do.”

By seeking ways to commercialize technology at OSU, McKeever said the university can — and already has — significantly contributed to the Stillwater economy. There have been a number of direct and indirect jobs in Stillwater from high-technology companies that benefit from OSU-sponsored innovations, in turn boosting city tax revenue, McKeever said.

“All of these (high-tech companies) are only here because the university is here,” he said. “It’s kind of subtle and kind of hidden and we tend to take it for granted, but that part of the economy simply wouldn’t still be here.”

And there is more room for growth, McKeever said. He recently visited the University of Utah, which is known nationally for its ability to commercialize university-founded technology, he said. As it turns out, McKeever said, much of OSU’s policies mirror those at Utah — suggesting the school is taking the right steps toward commercial success.

The keynote speaker at this year’s Research Week will be Daymond John, entrepreneur and star of ABC reality show “Shark Tank.” John, who founded the clothing brand FUBU, will discuss his successful branding techniques that helped him thrive as an entrepreneur. He will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Wes Watkins Center.

In addition, Robin Rasor, president of the Association of Technology Managers, an international group of technology researchers, will discuss how educational institutions can transfer groundbreaking technologies from university campuses to the U.S. marketplace. She will speak at 11 a.m. Monday at the Jones Conference Room in the ConocoPhillips Alumni Center.

Also, Richard Sudek will present his take on why investors don’t want to work with universities. Sudek is part of Tech Coast Angels, a group of more than 300 investors from California who have invested more than $120 million in start-up businesses. He will discuss how the fast pace of investors is often in contrast with the slower, bureaucratic pace of universities. He will speak at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at 108 Wes Watkins Center.

The OSU Wind Ensemble will also perform at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Seretean Center Concert Hall. The arts are an equally important component of the Morrill Act, McKeever said.

“Although science and technology will move society forward, arts and humanities make society a more wonderful place to live in,” he said. “All needed to be folded into the Morrill Act.”

Research Week runs through Friday. For a full list of events throughout the week, visit http://researchweek.osu.edu.

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