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Former Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis plays piano at A Stately Affair.

Tulsa gala honors Burns and Ann Hargis for their leadership

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Editorial Coordinator | 405-744-5540 | editor@okstate.edu

Former Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis showed off his piano skills at the sixth biennial A Stately Affair in Tulsa.

It was a delightful surprise when he took to the piano keys and played “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Let the Good Times Roll.” And the good times did roll as the fundraiser recognized both Burns and Ann Hargis as the event’s Icons for their significant contributions to Tulsa and Oklahoma, as well as their unwavering support for OSU-Tulsa and OSU Center for Health Sciences. This year’s gala raised more than $1.3 million.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum proclaimed June 24 as Burns and Ann Hargis Day and handed the couple a key to the city during the gala at Cox Business Convention Center.

“It’s a great honor for me tonight as the mayor of Tulsa to say how grateful we are for the leadership of Burns and Ann Hargis and what they’ve meant for our city,” Bynum said. “[Burns] is someone who focused the Stillwater team on Tulsa, which I am especially thankful for.”

OSU-Tulsa trustee John O’Connor co-chaired the gala with his wife, Lucia.

“What an incredible night to be a Cowboy,” John O’Connor said. “Burns and Ann, thank you for your leadership. We’re so grateful for each of you.”

The connection between Tulsa and OSU has flourished during Burns Hargis’ 13 years of transformative leadership.

OSU-Tulsa has created pathways to higher education through new academic programs and partnerships as the city’s public, metropolitan urbanserving research university. New OSU-Tulsa initiatives under the leadership of President Pamela Fry include the college Park partnership with Tulsa Community College, the OSU College of Professional Studies and the 100 Points of Truth and Transformation.

During her time as OSU-CHS president, Dr. Kayse Shrum expanded access to medical care throughout the state with rural health initiatives and the opening of the new OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation, the first tribally affiliated medical school in the country.

OSU Center for Health Sciences’ partnership with the new Veterans Hospital in Tulsa, the National Center for Wellness and Recovery, and the Hardesty Center for Clinical Research and Neuroscience are each remarkable achievements in advancing the landgrant mission for all Oklahomans.

A Stately Affair raises money for scholarship funds that benefit students at OSU-Tulsa and OSU Center for Health Sciences.

It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to have financial security while in school, said Lynsey Baxter, an OSU-Tulsa materials science and engineering Ph.D. student.

“I know many students who were thinking about dropping out of their programs because they don’t have the financial stability that they or their families need,” Baxter said. “Gracious donations, like the ones given for A Stately Affair, are what give a lot of us the accessibility to pursue our dreams and passions that we otherwise might not be able to achieve.”

Kailee Roe is a medical student at OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and one of the OSU-CHS students who benefits from a scholarship.

“Of course it helps out financially, but it’s also a good morale booster because you realize that it is a difficult journey, but someone out there realizes your end goal and what you aspire to be … and they are kind of supporting you along the way,” Roe said.

The Hargises have enthusiastically united the broad OSU community of students, employees, alumni and donors behind a bold vision of a modern landgrant university that unites disciplines to better prepare students for success. The results have been historic.

Under Hargis’ leadership, OSU saw record enrollment and record fundraising, with pledges and cash surpassing the $1 billion Branding Success campaign goal nearly two years ahead of schedule. In total, OSU raised more than $2 billion in private support and added more than 81,000 new donors during his presidency.

In an effort to build on those new donors, the OSU Foundation established the 21st Century Cowboys group to reach alumni who graduated after the year 2000. Several members attended this year’s gala to salute the Hargises.

“Burns has made a huge difference in our university and its perception across the country,” said Jay Helm, an Oklahoma State Regent for Higher Education. “Burns and Ann, I hope you take with you all the heart and love and admiration from your fans and friends.”

Ann Hargis said the reason the gala is such a hit is because of the students.

“That’s what generates us to have such passion — to see these bright, talented students having a wonderful opportunity thanks to all of you, and watching them flourish going into their adult lives,” she said.

“This is the best job in the world,” Burns Hargis said. “We’ve been so blessed to have this job, and Tulsa has been such a special part of our time here.”


Photos By: Mike Tedford

Story By: Sara Plummer and Aaron Campbell

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