OU President Joseph Harrose Jr. announced a $2 billion fundraising drive during the “A Time to Celebrate, a Time to Lead” event Friday night at the Lloyd Noble Center.
Leading: The University of Oklahoma’s Campaign for the Future, which began in July 2020, pledges $2 billion by June 30, 2027. $500 million of funds will go toward scholarships and student support, plus an additional $300 million to support recruitment and retention of faculty members Teaching.
Harrose said this decision is the latest effort to achieve academic excellence for all and create a place for learning and belonging, as outlined in the university’s Lead On strategic plan.
In addition, the campaign will fund OU’s initiatives to become a top-tier public research university, with goals to establish interdisciplinary research centers and foster “leading” public-private partnerships in aerospace, defense, energy, environmental sustainability, and the future of healthcare and societies. and global security.
“We have to be committed to academic excellence,” Harrose said. “Academic excellence and research excellence are essential to move an individual forward and (to stay) forward.”
During the ceremony, four spotlight speakers shared testimonies about how OU and its research schools have changed their lives.
Maria Molina, an expert in health and analytical sciences at OU, said she was awarded a scholarship from OU that allowed her to attend college without financial worries, which gave her the opportunity to pursue higher education in the United States as her parents had always dreamed of. Molina said that while attending OU, she was connected to undergraduate research opportunities that helped her explore her passion and shape her career goals.
“I hope one day I can give back to the university and help the next generation of students achieve their college dreams, just as my generous donors have done for me,” said Molina.
Doris Benbrook, a chair professor at Orlando Presbyterian University, said resources at the university allowed her to develop OK-1, a drug that has the potential to treat cancer without causing toxic side effects.
Benbrook said the drug was developed entirely in Oklahoma and is now undergoing its first human clinical trial at OU Stephenson Cancer Center. Benbrook said the project was supported by millions of dollars from the National Cancer Institute, the Presbyterian Health Foundation, and has been classified by the OU Medical School Alumni Association.
Kyle Harper, Senior Advisor to the President and Dean Emeritus, said his presence at OU changed his life and gave him a new perspective.
“Here I learned the truths of a liberal education,” Harper said. “True education is not just about knowing how to get what you want in life. It’s finding out what’s worthwhile in life.”
Harper said alumni have an obligation to make OU a better place than they received it, and said research universities are the guarantor of growth and prosperity.
Finally, 11-year-old Evelyn Kavanaugh, who lost part of her right arm in an accident as a toddler in Uganda before being adopted by a couple in Oklahoma, said she had always dreamed of playing the violin. Through OU College of Allied Health, she was able to get a 3D-printed prosthetic, which allowed her to hold a bow and play the music she loves.
Kavanaugh provided vocals to the audience, followed by a standing ovation.
Harrose said all of these speakers show the power that OU has to change people’s lives.
“All progress depends on a combination of courage and vision. Some call it urgent magic, but we know that deep down in people are the people who see the vision and respond to the call for a larger, healthier, more just society. Those who are willing to do what those who are willing to give need,” Harrose said. .
This is the time, Harrose said, to come together, to give, and to unite as one.
“What we are announcing tonight is the launch of the largest campaign in the history of the country for higher education,” Harrose said.
It is important to create a place of belonging and opportunity at the university, Harrose said, which is why he is investing in implementing the strategic plan and establishing the OU as a leading research university.
Harrose announced that during the two-year “silent phase” of the campaign, $600 million of the $2 billion target had already been raised.
Robert Ross, OU trustee, said after the ceremony that they are laying the groundwork for the next generation of OU students.
“I think it’s really important that we focus on the students, and make sure that anyone in Oklahoma who wants to come to OU can come here,” Ross said. “And that’s what the $500 million of the $2 billion campaign is about. It’s student-focused. He is focused on getting them here and making it accessible to everyone.”