STILLWATER — Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis says people make a living by what they earn, but they make a life by what they give. It’s a message that Hargis exemplifies, said Calvin Anthony, chairman of the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges — the board that governs OSU.
“He’s been an inspiring figure for our entire community,” Anthony said. During his first three years as president of Oklahoma State, Hargis has worked to increase enrollment and student retention, foster creativity and raise more than $730 million. OSU’s 18th president is the second OSU graduate to serve as president of the university. He earned an accounting degree from Oklahoma State and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. Hargis came to OSU in 2008 after a legal and business career. He and his wife, Ann, work as a team. Whether the couple is hosting students for hamburgers or Hargis is making a pitch for OSU’s $1 billion fundraising campaign, his passion for the university is evident. Oklahoma State is closing in on the $1 billion mark in its Branding Success Campaign. Hargis said he is confident the university will get there. “When we do, we’ll probably just start again,” he said. Hargis said he loves being surrounded by students because their energy and enthusiasm is inspiring. One afternoon, Hargis noticed a group of students outside his window playing a game he didn’t recognize. Curious, Hargis went outside to watch. When the students recognized him and invited him to join their game of cricket, he didn’t decline. An advocate for creativity and imagination, Hargis has promoted entrepreneurial programs at OSU, including the start of an Institute for Creativity and Innovation.