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$1 million gift from OSU alumnus, XTO Energy Inc. creates three faculty positions in Arts & Sciences

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Microbiology, art and psychology receive first endowed faculty positions
View Full List of Endowed Faculty Chair Announcements 

(STILLWATER, Okla. July 24, 2008) – Oklahoma State University announced today a $1 million gift from Vaughn O. Vennerberg, II of Dallas, and XTO Energy Inc., located in Ft. Worth, to create three endowed faculty positions in microbiology and molecular genetics, art, and psychology.  Once fully matched dollar-for-dollar by T. Boone Pickens’ $100 million chair match commitment, as well as the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the gift will provide $4 million of impact in endowed funds.
A senior executive vice president and chief of staff at XTO, Vennerberg received his psychology degree from OSU in 1976. A 1972 graduate of Midwest City High School, Vennerberg began his career in the oil and gas profession with Texaco Inc. out of Tulsa. The gift creates the first endowed chairs/professorships for each department impacting three areas within the College of Arts & Sciences.
“This wonderful gift from Vaughn Vennerberg and XTO Energy, will make a significant and lasting impact on three different and important fields of study,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “We greatly appreciate Vaughn’s willingness to help in such a huge way and XTO’s commitment to higher education.”
The gift will establish the Vaughn “Trey” O. Vennerberg III Chair in Bioinformatics and Molecular Genetics, the Vennerberg Professorship in Art, and the Vennerberg Professorship in Developmental Disabilities in Psychology.
Vennerberg’s long-term goal is for the three positions to bring national academic recognition to OSU through outstanding research and to help recruit talented faculty and students. A psychology graduate and proponent of genetic research, he chose to make the gifts in areas that played a part in shaping who he is today.
“Genetic research is an issue that is very close to my heart and something that‘s affected my family personally.  Maybe this gift will eventually help improve the quality of life for individuals with genetic disorders as well as giving their families hope,” Vennerberg said.
The chair in art will focus on work currently conducted at the new, multi-disciplinary Doel Reed Center for the Arts in Taos, N.M. Reed was OSU's first professor of art, and OSU acquired the property last year.  Psychology will benefit from the funds for in-depth research and development in the area of adolescent developmental disabilities.
Vennerberg said the unique dollar-for-dollar match from T. Boone Pickens and the state regents did trigger his gift.
“I’ve wanted to give back to OSU for a long time.  I commend Boone Pickens, whose example of generosity prompted me to take this step. He’s a great man who is improving the quality of life for all Oklahomans,” Vennerberg said.
In order to take full advantage of the state’s dollar-for-dollar match, and make the most significant impact on OSU academics, Vennerberg made the gift prior to the July 1 change in the state’s endowed chair matching program.  This gift is part of the $66.8 million in endowed faculty gifts OSU announced earlier.
Endowed professorships and chairs are academic designations which provide support for faculty salary, graduate assistantships, equipment and research needs, as well as other support. These endowed faculty positions allow a university to attract and retain the best and the brightest academic minds in the world.

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