By Jacob Longan
A group of generous Oklahoma State University supporters are making a real difference at OSU. The members of the President’s Fellows each donate at least $10,000 annually to allow OSU President Burns Hargis to address the university’s unbudgeted needs and opportunities. Since its inception four years ago, participants have contributed more than $1.3 million to benefit OSU’s students, faculty and campus.
“We are extremely fortunate to have dozens of households support this program every year,” Hargis says. “It provides unrestricted funding to address OSU’s greatest needs, including need-based scholarships, student and faculty research, campus beautifcation, equipment and diversity.
“The President’s Fellows are generously helping OSU achieve greatness in ways that would not be possible otherwise.”
He says one great example is the acceleration of construction of the Welcome Plaza, which has transformed the southeast corner outside the Student Union into a new gateway to Oklahoma State University.
Jennifer Grigsby is one of the most passionate supporters of the President’s Fellows. The 1991 accounting graduate is chairman of the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees and past chair of the OSU Alumni Association. She has endowed scholarships for accounting majors, veterinary medicine students and third basemen on the Cowboy baseball team. She was also the first donor to the President’s Fellows back in 2013.
“I love this concept,” Grigsby says. “There are obviously certain areas I’m interested in, but generally we as alumni and supporters have no way of knowing the university’s most immediate needs. I love that I write a $10,000 check every year, having no idea where the money is going, while being confident that it will go where it is needed most.
“I have complete faith in President Hargis. Every single day he sees opportunities to make a difference for a student, professor or program and we give him the ability to quickly seize those opportunities,” she says.
Each year, President’s Fellows contributors receive a report accounting for expenditures as well as an invitation to a dinner at the president’s house where recipients tell their stories.
“I love the immediate impact,” says Grigsby, the executive vice president and chief financial officer for Ascent Resources, an independent energy company based in Oklahoma City. “I hear from deans and professors all the time that immediate, unrestricted funds are the most meaningful way to support their schools. As a donor, I want to find ways to help OSU be better and those opportunities may have nothing to do with my specific passions or involvement at the university.”