march 13, 2003

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Pickens Record Gift Takes OSU to Next Level

Mr. & Mrs. Pickens

Oklahoma State University alumnus Boone Pickens announced a $70 million commitment to his alma mater on March 6th -- the largest single gift ever to OSU. Pickens' total support of the university now approaches $75 million, making the 1951 graduate the university's largest single donor.

"I love OSU and am pleased to be in a position to help," said Pickens. "I hope my gift takes us to a new level of giving. I do want to see other alumni rise to the occasion. I have believed in this university since I graduated in 1951, and I have given to the total university and not just to athletics. This is a large gift. I understand that, but I do consider it a privilege to give it and to have the opportunity to give it. When you look back at it, (OSU) is the school I love."

"In the life of an institution, there are difference makers," said OSU President David Schmidly. "Boone Pickens has clearly established himself in that role at OSU through steadfast support of academics and now athletics."

Pickens intends to form a $20 million trust to support OSU's stadium renovation. The gift completes Phase One fund-raising for the Next Level Campaign and sets the stage for summer groundbreaking and the completion of the south stands renovation by the 2004 football season.

OSU Athletic Director Harry Birdwell said, "Boone's enthusiasm for OSU and his generosity have helped to put legs under some important dreams."

"He understands that the significance of OSU's participation in the Big 12 Conference goes beyond athletics, and his gift lifts the Cowboys to the next level in conference competition," said Schmidly.

In addition, Pickens announced plans to use an expected $15 million appreciation on the stadium trust to establish a Boone Pickens General University Scholarship fund. Until Thursday, Pickens had given OSU nearly $5 million, largely in support of academic programs. An OSU geology graduate, Pickens funded the Boone Pickens School of Geology in the Noble Research Center at OSU and a professorship in geophysics. He established a Boone Pickens Scholars Fund in geology and contributed to a number of scholarship, fellowship and professorship endowments at the university. He also supported a cancer research project in the College of Veterinary Medicine and initiated the Boone Pickens Mesa Vista Quail Research Project. Pickens is a major contributor to the OSU Golf Program and its award-winning Karsten Creek facility.

On Thursday, Pickens also revealed a $35 million testamentary gift in his will to support several academic and athletic projects at OSU.

Pickens came to OSU from Holdenville in eastern Oklahoma. Upon graduation he took a $290-a-month job with Phillips Petroleum. Three years later, he struck out on his own as an independent geologist. In 1956, he borrowed $2,500 to found a precursor to MESA Petroleum, which became one of the largest independent producers of natural gas and oil in the U.S.
Pickens has been inducted into the OSU Alumni Hall of Fame, honored with the university's Henry G. Bennett Award and awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree. His professional papers are in the Special Collections Department of OSU's Edmon Low Library. His autobiography, Boone, was listed for 15 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List.

In 1984, he told OSU graduates during a commencement address, "Your reputation for integrity, hard work and fair dealing will be your greatest asset in life." He credits his parents for the values that led to his success. His father was in the oil business, and his mother ran the Office of Price Administration during World War II.

Story Contact: Natalea Watkins