- Associated Press - Sunday, November 23, 2014

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - A seven-year fundraising campaign has helped transform Oklahoma State University.

The campaign began in December 2007 with a goal to raise $1 billion. The Oklahoman reported Sunday (https://bit.ly/1vCqKsS ) that it officially ends on Dec. 31, but the goal was reached almost two years early and pledges continue to come in.

“It’s been the biggest thing, and for reasons beyond just the money,” OSU President Burns Hargis said. “What this did is surprised even the OSU family that this could be done. I don’t think anybody really thought of us in these terms. Just starting to believe is half the battle.”

Hargis said another significant result of the campaign is the number of donors, which currently totals 101,000.

The key is to keep in touch and show donors their gift is making the difference they intended, he said. Many are young people who don’t yet have the disposable income they will have later when they can make larger donations.

The campaign was launched shortly after Hargis was named OSU’s 18th president. The university was struggling with declining enrollment, cuts in state funding, problems attracting and keeping strong faculty, and how to fund the many capital projects needed on campus.

The fundraising campaign included a goal of raising money for endowed faculty chairs quickly before a moratorium on the state’s dollar-for-dollar match went into effect July 1, 2008.

Hargis turned to energy executive and OSU alumnus T. Boone Pickens, who agreed to match $100 million from other donors. If donors gave $100 million by July 1, Pickens would match it and the state would match both for a total of $400 million.

Public universities were not always so aggressive about fundraising, but that has changed as state governments reduce the amount given to higher education because of other funding priorities, Hargis said.

“We’re going to have to dramatically raise the private funds that are available. Otherwise we’re going to head right back where we were, where only the privileged could go to school,” he said.

In 1988, the state provided about 70 percent of the cost of education. Today state appropriations cover about 18 percent of the cost at OSU, he said.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com


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