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Oklahoma State University

The official magazine of Oklahoma State University

OSU Foundation names Blaire Atkinson as 7th president

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Blaire Atkinson

Former OSU Alumni Association leader Blaire Atkinson transitions to new role within the Cowboy family

No matter what Blaire Atkinson’s job has been, her professional mission to advance Oklahoma State University and strengthen its ties with the Cowboy family has remained the same.

This spring, the native of Vici, Oklahoma, transitioned her leadership role from the OSU Alumni Association to the OSU Foundation after being named its seventh president in December. The move is a homecoming of sorts for Atkinson, whose service to OSU began with a job at the fundraising organization in 2011.

At the Foundation, she provided strategic direction and oversight in human resources, marketing and communications, donor relations and special events as the senior associate vice president of development services before becoming president of the OSU Alumni Association in 2018.

“I am overwhelmed with excitement about the opportunity to serve the university as the next Foundation president,” Atkinson said. “I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to serve in an organization that has such a far-reaching impact at my beloved alma mater. The decision to transfer back to the Foundation from the Alumni Association was not made lightly, as I have tremendous enthusiasm and respect for the work done by the Association and believe I can continue to support their mission in partnership from the Foundation.”

James Farris Associates, an international human resources firm, facilitated finding a replacement for longtime president Kirk Jewell before his May retirement. The process utilized a well-rounded search committee comprised of OSU executives, Foundation staff and representatives of the organization’s board of trustees.

Jerry Winchester, chairman of the Foundation’s board of trustees, sat on the search committee. He said it was important the group found someone who could effectively implement the strategic and tactical plans of the Foundation in a way that was consistent with the direction of the university.

“The Foundation only exists for the benefit of the university, so we have to be strategically linked. Blaire understands this and has the skills to move us to the next level,” Winchester said. He added that in addition to being a helpful and considerate steward of donated resources, the Foundation needs to act as a force multiplier for the school, its stakeholders and alumni.

“Blaire has proven she can look at complex situations and build a consensus to move in the right direction while engaging all the various parties,” he said. “She will constantly push us to reimagine what we need to be in the future.”

Mike Holder, Oklahoma State University vice president for athletic programs and director of intercollegiate athletics, agreed.

“Blaire is a team player, and her passion for OSU will strengthen the relationship between the OSU Foundation and every facet of the university,” he said. “I’m excited about working with her, and I’m confident her unselfishness and big-picture perspective will help athletics compete at the highest level.”

Lyndon Taylor, head of the search committee and a former Foundation chairman, said he was eager to see how Atkinson will continue working with donors to advance the university.

“There is tremendous momentum at the Foundation, and we are excited that Blaire will continue the outstanding legacy of strong leadership,” he said.

Atkinson graduated from OSU with a degree in business administration and holds Senior Professional in Human Resources and SHRM Senior Certified Professional certifications. Prior to joining the OSU Foundation in 2011, she spent several years overseeing human resources at various organizations in Oklahoma.

Atkinson is dedicated to improving the state through quality education and is passionately devoted to OSU. She is a member of Leadership Oklahoma Class 30 and has been involved in various community volunteer organizations over the years. Atkinson and her husband, Matt, met at OSU and have three children, Wyatt, Westin and Morgan.

Kirk Jewell praised Atkinson’s selection: “I am thrilled with the appointment of Blaire to this position and am confident she will continue to exceed expectations by building upon the Foundation’s mission of uniting donor passions with university priorities to achieve excellence.”

The president provides general supervision and ensures appropriate control over the affairs of the OSU Foundation. The president also serves as a senior adviser to OSU administration on matters relating to the development, implementation and integration of private fundraising programs and activities. The president serves at the discretion of the board of trustees of the OSU Foundation.

“The Foundation employs incredibly talented people, all passionately committed to supporting quality education in the next generation — a passion I share and care deeply about,” Atkinson said. “I fully believe in the mission of our land-grant university to improve the lives of people in Oklahoma and the world through teaching, research and outreach. I am excited to help inspire others to support the impact Oklahoma State makes.” 

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