STILLWATER — Standing on the plaza just outside the newly renovated Oklahoma State University Student Union, billionaire philanthropist T. Boone Pickens said Wednesday that the university is a different place than it was in 2005.
It's no surprise. An extra $1 billion has a tendency to change a place.
Branding Success, OSU's fundraising campaign, reached its $1 billion goal 18 months ahead of schedule, university officials announced Wednesday. The campaign is scheduled to wrap up at the end of 2014.
Although it's already reached its mark, the campaign will continue until the 2014 end date, said OSU President Burns Hargis. The university still needs to raise funds to build a number of new buildings, including a new facility for the Spears School of Business and a performing arts center OSU officials plan to build at the southeast corner of campus.
“We have a lot to do,” Hargis said.
Included in the $1 billion raised was $515.9 million for student support, including student scholarships. Funds from the campaign created nearly 1,000 new scholarship funds, which will generate scholarships for thousands of students, Hargis said.
A large portion of that total came from Pickens, who pledged $120 million in matching funds for student scholarships.
Those scholarships have contributed to enrollment growth at OSU, Hargis said, including among students from outside Oklahoma. OSU's freshmen make up the largest first-year class in state history, and Hargis said about 30 percent of those students come from other states.
The largest share of the out-of-state students comes from Texas, he said, with students from Kansas and California also making up a smaller but still substantial percentage.
Since the campaign began in 2007, it has allowed the university to create about 130 new faculty positions, Hargis said. That puts the university in a better position to compete for talented professors with colleges and universities nationwide.
Money raised during the campaign has also gone to fund new buildings and other campus enhancements, Hargis said, including the new Price Family Garden, adjacent to the university's Atherton Hotel.
Although upgrading campus facilities doesn't necessarily contribute to the university's academic mission directly, new buildings like the performing arts center and the university's new Postal Plaza art gallery help advance the university because they help attract talented teachers and researchers.
“Facilities don't transform a place,” Hargis said. “What transforms it is the people.”