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Commencement Speaker

Spring 2021 - V. Burns Hargis, OSU President


OSU President Burns Hargis



V. Burns Hargis was named the 18th President of Oklahoma State University and the OSU System in December 2007 and took office March 10, 2008. 

Hargis oversees one of the nation’s most comprehensive land-grant university systems with more than 35,000 students, 7,000 employees, and campuses located in Stillwater, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Okmulgee.


As president, Hargis has enthusiastically united the broad OSU community of students, employees, alumni and donors behind his bold vision of a modern land-grant university that cuts across disciplines to better prepare students for success. The results have been historic.


He has guided OSU to record enrollment and record fundraising, with pledges and cash surpassing the $1 billion Branding Success campaign goal nearly two years ahead of schedule. In total, OSU has raised more than $1.7 billion in private support and added 67,000 new donors during Hargis’ time as president. OSU’s giving has focused on student scholarships, faculty and other vital resources and programs.


Hargis also oversees a construction boom that is transforming the OSU campus to be more competitive in academics and athletics. Most recently, the crescent-shaped business building and spectacular McKnight Center for the Performing Arts are new campus icons. Guided by Hargis’ vision, the OSU campus has never looked more beautiful.

Hargis and his wife, First Cowgirl Ann, are active across campus, interacting regularly with OSU’s diverse student body. Strong proponents of wellness, they have led OSU’s initiative as America’s Healthiest Campus. They also have taken OSU’s story of success to alumni around the world.

He has held several leadership positions related to intercollegiate athletics, serving on NCAA, Football Bowl Championship and Big 12 Conference boards.


Hargis, who holds degrees in accounting from Oklahoma State University and in law from the University of Oklahoma, is the second OSU graduate to lead the university as president. Oliver S. Willham, who served as president from 1952 to 1966, graduated from then Oklahoma A&M in 1923.


Before being named OSU President, Hargis had a long and distinguished legal and business career, with active civic and philanthropic leadership across many fronts. He also is familiar to many Oklahomans through the political perspective and wit he provided on the award-winning television program “Flashpoint.”

Prior to coming to OSU, he was Vice Chairman of Bank of Oklahoma, N.A. Before joining Bank of Oklahoma in 1997, Hargis practiced law in Oklahoma City for 28 years, most recently with the firm of McAfee & Taft. He is a former president of the Oklahoma County Bar Association, former president of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Hargis served as vice-chairman of the Oklahoma State Election Board, the Oklahoma Constitutional Revision Commission, and served as Chairman of the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services. He is a former member of the Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Hargis was a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of Oklahoma in 1990.

A firm believer in the power of imagination and collaboration, Hargis was the first chair of the Oklahoma Creativity Project. He has served and chaired many boards, including the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges of Oklahoma State University.

Hargis received the state’s highest honor when he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2009. In the fall of 2020, Hargis announced his intent to retire as president of OSU at the end of June 2021. He and his wife, Ann, have two children and three grandchildren.

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