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Dallas engineer endows $1M scholarship through estate

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Grateful for the experiences he encountered during his 40-plus years after graduation, Oklahoma State University alumnus Michael Harris and his wife, Patricia, provided $1 million for OSU in their estate plan to create the Michael Harris Endowed Scholarship in Mechanical Engineering.

Harris hopes the gift will encourage future OSU students to pursue an excellent education and world-class business opportunities.  

“Our gift will not be the largest the Foundation receives by any means, but our hope is that it may help a good student that needs some financial assistance stay in school and finish their degree,” Harris said. “Scholarships like we are setting up might have helped me if I had encountered financial problems at that point in my education.”

Although Harris and his wife included provisions to support OSU in their wills 25 years ago, they only recently designated their planned gift to support a scholarship endowment they believe will significantly impact students.  

“We were excited to help the Harris’ put in place an arrangement that will benefit engineering students for generations to come,” said Gary Clark, OSU Foundation vice president and general counsel. “Planned gifts, such as the one provided by the Harris family, are essential to the future of OSU. We are so grateful for the many OSU alums who have made the decision to give back to the university.”

At the encouragement of a coworker, Harris enrolled at OSU in 1960 after serving in the Army Reserve. After graduating with a mechanical engineering degree in 1966, Harris began working as a project engineer for Phillips Petroleum. Before retiring, he was stationed in Bartlesville, New York, the North Sea, Venezuela and Dallas. Harris credits his successful career and world travel to time spent at OSU.  

“The School of Mechanical Engineering gave me confidence to function as an engineer by applying our newly learned skills before graduating,” Harris said. “Learning to ask faculty and staff for their help and insights in achieving my own goals established an approach to dealing with projects that I use to this day.”

The Michael Harris Endowed Scholarship benefits junior or senior-level mechanical engineering students in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.  

“We are glad to be in a position to help both individual students and OSU,” Harris said. “Hopefully, the students who benefit from the scholarship will realize the importance of making similar gifts, and will continue to support OSU.”  

Mike and Patty Harris reside in the Dallas area, enjoy frequent international travel and actively participate in OSU events.    

The OSU Foundation is grateful to the Harris family for their loyal support of OSU. Planned gifts like the Harris’ are vital to OSU’s future and provide lasting support for the university. Their gift creates a legacy that will endure at OSU very prominently.  

The OSU Foundation serves as the private fundraising organization for OSU, as designated by the OSU Regents. Its mission is to unite donor and university passions and priorities to achieve excellence.

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