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Event chair Cheryl Clerico speaks at the Stately Affair gala in Tulsa.
Event chair Cheryl Clerico speaks at the Stately Affair gala in Tulsa.

Millions raised for students at 2023 A Stately Affair Gala

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

A Stately Affair: It’s a summer night of glitz, glam and plenty of orange in downtown Tulsa, with the mission to raise money for Oklahoma State University’s presence in the city.

This year, the biennial fundraising event at the Cox Business Center raised $2 million for scholarships to benefit OSU-Tulsa and OSU Center for Health Sciences students.

Thanks to record attendance for the event and the tremendous generosity of donors, including the premier sponsor, the Cherokee Nation, and event chairs John and Cheryl Clerico, the future for OSU students in Tulsa is brighter — and more orange — than ever.

A Transformative Gift

“There has never been a better time to be a Cowboy in Tulsa,” said Dr. Johnny Stephens, president of OSUCHS and interim president of OSU-Tulsa. “We have so much to be proud of here and have momentum in this town like we’ve never seen before.”

OSU’s presence in Tulsa has been swelling in recent years, leading in workforce responsive investments and initiatives. In just the last year, OSU has established a new accounting program, new degrees and programming in the Tulsa-exclusive College of Professional Studies, and an industry-grade film lab in partnership with the Cherokee Nation. The Helmerich Research Center at OSU-Tulsa has also added the new LaunchPad Center for Advanced Air Mobility, in partnership with OSU’s Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education and Tulsa Innovation Labs.

From left: OSU-CHS and OSU-Tulsa President Johnny Stephens, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskins Jr. and OSU President Kayse Shrum pose at A Stately Affair in recognition of the Cherokee Nation’s Icon Award.
From left: OSU-CHS and OSU-Tulsa President Johnny Stephens, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskins Jr. and OSU President Kayse Shrum pose at A Stately Affair in recognition of the Cherokee Nation’s Icon Award.

OSU-CHS is the only institution in the state to experience enrollment growth every year for the last decade, and in 2023, it earned top spots in the annual “U.S. News & World Report” medical school rankings. OSU-CHS earned the No. 1 ranking in the percentage of graduates practicing medicine in health professional shortage areas, and No. 10 ranking in graduates practicing medicine in rural areas, which underscores its mission to educate physicians for rural and underserved areas.

The largest health care investment in downtown Tulsa is under development — the new OSU Academic Medical District. The district is a bold vision of treatment and research, which will include a new Veterans Hospital in Tulsa, the Oklahoma Psychiatric Care Center and a new biomedical research facility. OSU Medical Center also will undergo multiple phases of improvements and expansions in the coming years.

“It’s truly an amazing package of investments,” the Clericos said in a message to the A Stately Affair crowd. “Thank you to [OSU President] Dr. Kayse Shrum and Dr. Johnny Stephens in developing a brand new health care strategy for OSU in Tulsa.”

One of the institution’s momentous health care initiatives is the new OSU nursing bachelor’s degree program, which launched this fall. At the event, the Clericos pledged to match the first $1 million in donations to OSU scholarship programs, with their contributions going to the nursing program.

“There are lots of things to be happy about and support,” John Clerico said. “I encourage everyone to look at the package of new activities, new services, new facilities, decide where you think you have a particular interest, and let’s get behind this in a big way.”

A Dedicated Partnership

The Cherokee Nation, the event’s premier sponsor and recipient of the 2023 Icon Award, illustrated its generosity and continued its strategic OSU collaboration with a gift of $100,000.

“It’s not just a relationship, this is a partnership with the Cherokee Nation,” Stephens said.

The nation has proven to be a special partner for OSU in Tulsa and beyond, working closely with OSU-Tulsa on film education scholarships and initiatives, and partnering with OSU-CHS to build the only tribally affiliated medical school in the United States — the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation. Their collaborative efforts in recent years have already improved the lives of hundreds of students in the Tulsa area.

“It’s always been my dream since I was like 9 years old, making little films with my cousins back in Shawnee,” said Josiah Jones, a film workshop participant at OSU-Tulsa who has gone on to find work on local film sets. “I couldn’t have done it without the class and the scholarship that the Cherokee Nation and OSU-Tulsa provided.”

The Cherokee Nation scholarships have also benefited many of its young citizens, particularly student doctors at OSU-COM in Tahlequah. Four years after opening the Tahlequah campus, 160 students attend school there. The inaugural class will graduate in May 2024.

“We so much appreciate the partnership with the Cherokee Nation,” Shrum said. “I thank the Cherokee Nation for their vision, trust and what they do for Oklahoma State University and the state of Oklahoma.”

Generous Donations

Many other guests also graciously donated to help Tulsa students.

The George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and Ralph and Frances McGill each supported A Stately Affair this year with gifts of $50,000. Bank of Oklahoma, the Chickasaw Nation, Scott and Sarah Shepherd, Saint Francis Health System, OSU Office of the President and the John Steele Zink Foundation were all $25,000 sponsors for the event.

Impactful donations like these are what light the path for future generations in and around Tulsa to earn the skills they need to pursue their dreams.

If you would like to donate to provide scholarships to OSU students in Tulsa, contact the OSU Foundation in Tulsa at or 918-594-8500.

Photos by: Tom Gilbert

Story by: Aaron Campbell | STATE Magazine

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