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President Emeritus Burns Hargis (center) celebrates Oct. 14 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Hargis Leadership Institute.

Hargis Leadership Institute aims to encourage students to explore leadership potential

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Editorial Coordinator | 405-744-5540 |

OSU President Emeritus Burns Hargis is creating a legacy of leadership with the OSU Hargis Leadership Institute.

President Hargis, former First Cowgirl Ann Hargis and OSU students launched the new program with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and block party celebration Oct. 14 on the Student Union Plaza.

The Hargis Leadership Institute was initially funded by a $2 million endowed Chair for Ethical Leadership donated by OSU alumni Carol and Frank Morsani. Hargis, who will hold the endowed chair, will be a frequent guest speaker, mentor and fundraiser for the institute.

“The overarching vision of the Hargis Leadership Institute is to help every OSU student find the leader within them,” Burns Hargis said. “This institute will provide an opportunity for all of our students to explore and nourish their leadership potential.”

“OSU’s leadership programming concentrates on impacting students for a lifetime to help set them on a path to continually explore, grow and serve,” said Josh Taylor, director of the newly established institute.

President Emeritus Hargis speaking at the ceremony
President Emreritus Burns Hargis

The institute will support leadership programs across the university. Taylor said this new institute aims to give student organizations new tools for discovering and developing leaders at OSU.

The institute will also house three competitive leadership scholarship programs: the President’s Leadership Council, the McKnight Scholars Leadership program and the Devon Ingenuity Scholars.

The President’s Leadership Council is a competitive scholarship and leadership program for freshmen that teaches the importance of leading and serving throughout life. Hargis himself was a member of the first President’s Leadership Council at its inception in 1967.

The McKnight Scholars Leadership program provides a four-year, outof-state tuition waiver and offers an opportunity to develop essential leadership skills through exclusive coursework and seminars. The McKnight Scholars Leadership program was founded by a $10 million endowment from Ross and Billie McKnight.

The Devon Ingenuity Leadership Program was funded by a gift from Devon and includes scholarships for sophomores and juniors in STEM fields. The program specifically develops emotional intelligence, team leadership and collaboration, and effective communication skills.

“President Emeritus Hargis is beloved by OSU alumni and donors who are eager to support important Hargis initiatives,” said Blaire Atkinson, OSU Foundation president. “Through this fall’s Hargis Legacy Celebration fundraising efforts, we have raised more than $1 million, in addition to the Morsani endowment funding, to set this program up for success. We are grateful for the many donors who stepped up to show gratitude for the transformational impact the Hargises have made at OSU and believe this institute will expand their impact for generations to come.”

The institute’s immediate programming will include leadership coaching programs, conferences, retreats and seminars. The institute is designing its academic offerings as it collaborates and partners with academic colleges, businesses and industries.

OSU students who want to lead and serve in college and beyond may learn more about the OSU Hargis Leadership Institute at

Photos By: Gary Lawson

Story By: Jane Braden | STATE Magazine

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