Dr. Kayse Shrum hit the ground running last week when she took office as the 19th President of Oklahoma State University. She started her first official day on the job Thursday by introducing the university’s new Athletic Director Chad Weiberg at a press conference.
She also planned to make the rounds on campus to say hello and meet with students, deans and administrators in her first few days.
Getting her administrative team together and announced will be a priority following a number of retirements. A number of functions are currently being performed by interim administrators.
“Many of the senior leadership have exited so really an opportunity to start a new chapter,” Shrum told the News Press. “And for all of us to start at the same time and really go forward in this next year looking at, ‘What does a Land Grant university look like in the future?,’ creating that vision and a strategic plan. Those are the first two items on the agenda: the leadership team and our strategic planning.”
She loves the Land Grant mission because it represents access to education but also because it works toward solving society’s most pressing needs.
As has been seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, that goes far beyond agriculture, although that will always be a foundation of a Land Grant university, she said.
“But the modern day Land Grant university is so much more than that,” Shrum said. “And again, we’re going to be taking the lens of ‘How do we use the resources here?’ to solve society’s greatest needs through research in a way that enhances the student experience?”
She is very proud of the entire OSU system for the role it has played in public health when called upon by Gov. Kevin Stitt to innovate.
“Oklahoma State University stepped up in a major way,” she said. “We went from one of the lowest testing capabilities in the United States to one of the top and I really have never been more proud to see a graph going in the right direction. Just knowing that medicine – and I think this is the unique intersection of what we can do as a Land Grant – because we have agriculture, we have medicine, we had vet med, all of those things are really important in a pandemic and will be going forward. That’s another big area for Oklahoma State University going forward.”
During that time, OSU established its abilities at a national level, she said. People were looking at OSU and asking how it put that together so quickly for the state.
Shrum said the infrastructure and environment built while President Burns Hargis led the university means she can turn her attention to academics, student experience and research.
She appreciates the beauty of the campus, the excitement and the positive energy, in addition to the facilities.
“It really allows me to kind of take a look at other things and what we’re doing there,” Shrum said. “For me the students are always at the center of what we do and really looking and reimagining ‘What does the college experience need to look like for a student today?’ as we’re planning for the future.”
She said she feels very fortunate to also be a mother of six college students, five of whom are attending OSU, because it gives her a better understanding of student needs.
“I want to make sure that students have a wonderful experience as well as an education that prepares them for a career in the future where they can go out in the world and make a difference. I think the same is true for the university. We have so much to offer here … like we showed in the pandemic, we can make a major difference in the state, in the world and in our society through what we do here every day. And that’s what really excites me.”