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Oklahoma State University Receives $25 Million Gift from Alumni Ross and Billie McKnight to Establish Performing Arts Programming Endowment

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Oklahoma State University’s planned performing arts center received a major boost today with a $25 million gift from alumni Ross and Billie McKnight to establish an endowment to support programming.

“This visionary gift from the McKnights will ensure our new performing arts center truly maximizes the opportunities for cultural enrichment that the magnificent modern facility will afford,” said Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis. “As a result of the generosity of the McKnights, we will be available to present celebrated national and international performing arts productions and artists that will enhance the cultural experience on campus, in the Stillwater community and across the region.”

The 93,000-square-foot performing arts center will be named The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts at Oklahoma State University. The center will stand prominently along the southwest corner of University Avenue and Hester Street within walking distance of the student union, the Atherton Hotel and the ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center. 

The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts will be one of Oklahoma’s premier cultural institutions, creating an environment for artistic expression that allows Oklahoma State and the Stillwater community to express — and be recognized for — their passion for the arts on a global stage.

Billie and Ross McKnight, Oklahoma State University alumni and philanthropists

“Billie and I made this commitment to fulfill the vision of the performing arts center to expand the number and type of cultural opportunities available at Oklahoma State through vibrant performances and educational experiences,” said Ross McKnight. “We see our gift enabling students at Oklahoma State to achieve their fullest potential through interaction with some of the finest artists in the world. We believe these experiences will inspire students to express their own talents through music and performance.”

The endowment will allow Oklahoma State to explore unique opportunities to work with several of the country’s top symphonies, institutions, artists and traveling musical groups to bring once-in-a-lifetime entertainment and learning opportunities to Stillwater.

The McKnights’ generosity complements a number of donations to the performing arts center including a $15 million maintenance and operations gift from philanthropists and OSU alumni Frank and Carol Morsani.

“The McKnights and others who have already committed gifts to The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts represent a significant milestone under the leadership of President Burns Hargis toward achieving the goal of making the arts a vital part of the Oklahoma State experience,” commented Joe B. Hall, chairman of the OSU/A&M Board of Regents.

The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts will feature state-of-the-art technology designed to enhance the performance and audience experience. It will include an acoustically perfected 1,100­-seat performance hall, 222­-seat recital hall and an outdoor amphitheater with a large viewing screen for broadcasting performances in the hall as well as other performances from anywhere else in the world.

The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts will also include a new home for the Department of Music and its master class curriculum. Teaching studios for one-on-one lessons and ensemble rooms for small or large groups will be located in the center. These spaces will be engineered with the latest acoustics and technology for instruction, practice and performance.

The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts at Oklahoma State University is expected to open in 2019.


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President Burns Hargis announces a transformative gift from Billie and Ross McKnight for Oklahoma State University!

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