Donors give $17 million to OSU's "Branding Success"

(STILLWATER, Okla., Oct. 7, 2011) – Oklahoma State University, which has reached $819 million in commitments to the $1 billion Branding Success Campaign, is publicly launching fundraising efforts for two exciting projects that will provide more opportunities for students to secure a superior education.

Lead gifts and commitments totaling more than $17 million have been designated for the new business school building as well as the Learning and Student Success Opportunity (LASSO) Center. At a public celebration Friday in the Student Union, OSU President Burns Hargis thanked donors for supporting these priorities of Branding Success: The Campaign for Oklahoma State University.

"Adding a state-of-the-art business building and the LASSO Center are two huge steps forward as OSU transforms into a premier modern land-grant institution," Hargis said. "The Spears School of Business is a leader in many areas, and these new facilities will take it to another level by creating a learning space that gives our students more advantages in the business world. The LASSO Center is already making a difference as we seek to improve our retention rate by offering help to all students."

Business school building to replace mid-1960s structure

The Spears School of Business has more than $15 million in commitments toward its goal of $60 million in private support for the building. The 200,000-square-foot facility will replace the college's current home, which has stood at the corner of Morrill and Hester Avenues since the mid-1960s. The new building will feature a naturally lit all-purpose atrium, an outdoor terrace and two auditoriums seating 300 and 150 people. Meeting rooms for collaborative group work, incubators to facilitate entrepreneurship, and gathering rooms will encourage cross-disciplinary interaction among faculty and students.

"This building will exude professionalism, which will help our students by exposing them to the type of environment they will find in the working world," said Larry Crosby, dean of the Spears School of Business. "It will also foster a sense of pride among the alumni, encouraging them to come back to campus and see this impressive structure and its prominent location."

Another highlight of the building will be the Chesapeake Energy Student Success Center, named in honor of Chesapeake Energy Corporation's $5 million gift. The 4,200-square-foot center will support students' pursuit of academic excellence by streamlining the process for enrollment, career guidance and overall involvement in the college.

Four departments will be housed in the center. Student Services will offer academic advising for all undergraduates. Career Services will provide career development opportunities, programs, internships and opportunities to network with corporate recruiters. Professional Success Passport will identify and encourage participation in activities offered by the School's 20 student organizations. Finally, the Business Writing Lab will provide assistance on assignments, résumés and other projects.

Also included in the center will be other spaces such as a conference room and team rooms.

"Chesapeake is one of the largest employers of OSU graduates, and their reinvestment in the University benefits both their company and our institution," Crosby said. "We are deeply appreciative of their commitment to the state and giving back to the citizens of Oklahoma in a very significant way."

LASSO Center a key to increasing student success

The Learning and Student Success Opportunity Center offers advising and programming to help students transition to independence by promoting academic and personal success through the formation of close mentorships and personal connections with the University.

"OSU can help develop the positive leaders of tomorrow only if it can ensure that all students who enroll have the optimal chance to succeed," said Provost Robert Sternberg. "The LASSO Center will provide the mentorship and guidance to all students in need of help in order to maximize their chances for success."

Carl and Marilynn Benbrook Thoma are giving $1.25 million with the first portion already supporting additional tutors and advisers for freshmen. The Thomas will meet with Sternberg after each academic year to determine the most effective use of their gift.

Paul and Ann Milburn are also supporting tutors with a $1 million gift that has both immediate and long-term impact.

"We are so grateful to the Thomas and the Milburns for their support, which allows us to greatly expand our services in an effort to reach all students who need help," Sternberg said. "It is gratifying to know that there are visionary and generous donors who are committed to the success of the university and its students."