By Mark Rountree
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Oklahoma State University supporters are putting their money where their hearts are. The university’s Branding Success fundraising campaign is up to $940 million. More than 81,000 donors have contributed as the university nears its goal of $1 billion. The funds are going to student scholarships, endowed professorships and facility improvements.
The fundraising campaign began on Feb. 26, 2010 with the goal of reaching the $1 billion mark in five years. Less than four years into the campaign, the university appears to be on the brink of surpassing that lofty goal.
“We hope to hit the $1 billion target by late spring/early summer, but we will keep raising much-needed funds until the campaign ends at the close of 2014,” said Gary Shutt, director of communications at OSU. “We have been pleased with the broad support for the campaign.”
Construction boom on campus
The completion of several construction projects will be a focus at Oklahoma State in the coming year.
Mike Buchert, the director of long-range facilities planning at Oklahoma State, said OSU is in a building boom. He said history shows that every 20 years or so, institutions go through periods of expansive building. Oklahoma State is in such a boom now.
Five construction projects totaling $41.5 million are under way, including a $19 million indoor practice facility on Hall of Fame Avenue. Construction of the building is expected to be completed this spring, said John Houck, senior project engineer. He said that synthetic surfaces will be installed inside and outside of the building in May. The 84-foot building has more than 93,000 square feet and covers 2.15 acres. The multipurpose training facility will be used by all of OSU’s athletic programs.
Just north of the training center, construction continues on a $7.5 million tennis complex that will include six indoor courts with spectator stands and locker rooms. The target completion date for the tennis complex is October.
The $4 million Monroe Street project between University and Hall of Fame avenues is nearly completed. The project includes new water lines, sanitary sewers, storm sewers and wider sidewalks to account for the large amount of pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
Work continues on a four-story parking garage north of Murray Hall on the southwest side of campus. The 600-car capacity garage project is expected to be completed by the end of spring break.
Renovation work continues inside the old Stillwater post office at West Eighth Avenue and Husband Street. The $4 million project, which is expected to be completed by the end of the summer, will turn the 14,000-square foot building into an OSU art gallery.
A new four-story student residential hall is planned to replace the aging Kerr-Drummond Hall. The new hall will feature accommodations for approximately 900 students. The new residential hall will be located in the northwest part of campus at the present site of the Kaye Barrett Droke Track and Field Center on Hall of Fame Avenue.
A new track facility will be constructed at the Athletic Village, north of the indoor training facility and east of the new tennis complex.
Renovation and repurposing of the Edmon Low Library also is on the agenda. In November, the OSU/AM Board of Regents began a selection process for a consultant to assist in the preparation of a plan to take the library from a storehouse of materials to a space for computerized research, individual and group study and interactive instruction. The $1.6 million project includes the construction of the Math Learning Success Center at the library.
The university will continue to evaluate its handling of a recent student sexual misconduct incident.
President Burns Hargis called for a task force to conduct an investigation of the university’s actions in a case that led to charges being filed against a male student by three other male students for sexual battery.
The Oklahoma State University/A&M Board of Regents hired higher education attorney James Sears Bryant to assist in the internal investigation. Hargis said he “applauds the regents’ hiring of an independent advisor to conduct a thorough and objective review.”
Oklahoma State launched OState.TV last fall. The video-based, web-exclusive platform showcases any number of activities and events at the university. The university will continue to seek out new and innovative ways to use the online platform. In October, approximately 20 presentations made at a TEDxOStateU event were posted on the site, attracting 20,000 viewers from 31 countries.
“Isn’t that incredible?” said Hargis. “OState.TV is going to be fabulous.”
Shutt said the university has only scratched the surface of the full potential of OState.TV.
“It allows OSU to better tell its story and offers great potential for teaching, outreach and entertainment,” Shutt said. “We will continue to produce live events such as the discussion between Stillwater sixth-graders and the international space station and TEDxOStateU. We also will continue to present student performances such as Handel’s Messiah, showcase student successes and feature OSU faculty experts. We plan to offer live OSU Cowboy and Cowgirls athletic events this spring.
“We will continue to involve students in the production of video, using OState.TV as a learning lab. And we will emphasize user-generated content, encouraging students and alumni to share their videos about OSU.”
More instructors on the way
Due to an increase in enrollment, including close to 4,300 freshmen in Stillwater and 37,000 students systemwide, the university has funded an additional 42 faculty positions this fiscal year. Shutt said a budget priority for FY2014 will be the addition of 50 more faculty positions that would maintain the student-faculty ratio of 19:1.
“While budgets have been particularly tight since the economic downturn in 2008, our priorities and budget increases have been focused on our core mission of instruction, research and service,” Shutt said.
What’s on the schedule in 2013?
Students and faculty get back to business Monday when classes resume for the spring semester.
OSU will hold a Phi Beta Kappa installation ceremony at Old Central on Jan. 17.
Beginning Feb. 18, OSU will host Research Week, an annual campuswide event that recognizes faculty and student research.
Deep-sea explorer Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic, will be the keynote speaker.
On April 2, the OSU Spears School of Business will host television newsman Tom Brokaw as part of its executive speaking series in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
The annual week-long Creativity Festival, which showcases student and faculty creativity, begins April 9.
The OSU School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration will host the Wine Forum of Oklahoma in April.
Spring break is March 18-22, and finals week is April 29 through May 3.
Graduate school commencement is May 3, while the undergraduate commencement is May 4.