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President Kayse Shrum with students in masks on the first day of classes in Fall 2021.

Shrum commemorates 100 days as OSU president

Friday, October 8, 2021

Media Contact: Monica Roberts | Interim Assistant Vice President of Strategic Communications | 405-744-4800 |

Dr. Kayse Shrum began her OSU presidency 100 days ago by officially announcing Chad Weiberg as OSU’s director of athletics on July 1 and hasn’t stopped working since.

Through her first three months, OSU’s first female president has opened a new music school and the state’s first aerospace institute in the midst of a conference realignment and a pandemic that couldn’t stop a record enrollment class from returning to campus.

“I believe the best days are ahead, and I am excited about our future,” Shrum said in a video sent systemwide Friday. “For Oklahoma State University, our mission is clear, and I believe it is more relevant today than ever before.”

In her first few days on the job, Shrum both looked toward the future in setting up her cabinet while also keeping an eye on her past as she appointed a new president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences.

Shrum’s new cabinet members include Kyle Wray as her senior vice president for executive affairs, Brandee Hancock as chief legal officer and Dr. Johnny Stephens, who was named senior vice president for health affairs and the new president of OSU-CHS to replace Shrum.

Shrum also appointed Stephens as interim president of OSU-Tulsa to replace the retiring Dr. Pamela Fry.

The first building opening in Shrum’s tenure as OSU’s president was the new Hardesty Center for Clinical Research and Neuroscience in Tulsa on July 14. 

​​“Oklahoma State University is committed to solving our society’s most pressing issues,” Shrum said at the opening. “In fact, the opioid crisis was the first pandemic OSU endeavored to find solutions to.”                   

Shrum, along with the rest of the country, was blindsided in late July when news came out that the University of Oklahoma and University of Texas would be leaving the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference in the next few years.

“Our university enjoys a great brand known for education, research, and service, and we will move forward with strength,” Shrum wrote in a letter in response to the news.

Shrum and Weiberg maintained a united front during the next month, looking for ways to keep the Big 12 intact even with OU and Texas leaving. On Sept. 10, the Big 12 announced it was inviting Brigham Young University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Central Florida and the University of Houston to join its ranks.

The move was heralded for keeping OSU’s financial future strong and returning the conference back to 12 members.

The 2021-2022 school year began with OSU admitting its second-largest ever incoming class, as well as its most diverse. 

Shrum welcomed that class at freshman convocation in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Aug. 13, giving advice to new students and connecting with them over the fact that it was her first year on the job.

In the week of Aug. 16, there were two new announcements for OSU buildings. The OSU College of Veterinary Medicine dedicated its state-of-the-art Roger J. Panciera Education Center on the Stillwater campus to start the week. 

Then, in Oklahoma City, Shrum and state dignitaries dedicated the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education (OAIRE) at the OSU DISCOVER building in Oklahoma City.

“Oklahoma State University offers a complete turnkey solution for Oklahoma’s aerospace industry needs,” Shrum said at the opening. “From K-12 enrichment and workforce development, through faculty and graduate research to groundbreaking innovations in industry partnerships, we are leading the state to advance this important economic engine.”

A little over two weeks into the fall semester, Shrum and university leadership held a virtual town hall to address concerns over COVID-19 and discussed avenues for OSU faculty and students to continue its efforts to stop the spread.

With the help of University Health Services and a new system created by the Department of Institutional Research and Analytics, Shrum has seen concerns start to subside.

With the town hall, a Mask Up campaign and OSU’s Poke-a-thon vaccination program, the university has seen its vaccination numbers grow stronger and stronger.

On Sept. 1, Shrum added a new member to her team in Jerome Loughridge as the new senior vice president of operations to help oversee all five of OSU’s campuses.

A few weeks later, she attended the opening of the new Greenwood School of Music, which coupled with the relatively new McKnight Center for the Performing Arts, has put OSU on the map in the world of the musical arts.

“Over the past decade, the Cowboy family has intentionally woven visual and performing arts into the fabric of OSU's identity,” Shrum said at the opening of the school. “The Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music is the latest example of how we continue to elevate the arts as an integral part of OSU's land-grant mission.” 

More recently, Shrum has overseen OSU’s continued strong footing in the annual US News and World Report  rankings, its 10th-straight Heed Diversity Award and a visit from the director of the National Science Foundation.

A lot has been accomplished in her short time and she is looking toward the future with the New Frontiers Agricultural Hall set to open next year, along with the Ray and Linda Booker Flight Center. 

“As we plan for the future, we must challenge ourselves to think beyond the box, dream big and set our goals high,” Shrum said.

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