Burns Hargis, the president of Oklahoma State University, announced his retirement Friday after more than 12 years as president.
Hargis announced his retirement, effective July 1, at the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents meeting in Stillwater Friday morning. The Regents say the search for his replacement has already begun and will name one before Hargis' exit.
"This has just been the time of our lives," Hargis said. "Ann and I have just absolutely loved it. It exceeded all of our expectations. If you ever get a chance to be a university president, do it."
Hargis became OSU’s 18th president on March 10, 2008 overseeing more than 35,000 students and 7,000 employees on campuses in Stillwater, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Okmulgee.
He hallmarked his career at OSU by increasing fundraising support for the university, leading an effort with the OSU Foundation to raise more than $1.7 billion dollars in private support and add 67,000 new donors.
Under Hargis’ vision of transforming OSU into a more competitive academic and athletic school - the campus expanded numerous times with key initiatives during his tenure. The most recent additions include a new business building and the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts, which attracted world-class performing artists including The New York Philharmonic during its opening season in 2019 and early 2020.
His wife Ann, also known as ‘The First Cowgirl,’ has been active as OSU’s first lady. She is known for interacting and occasionally giving them rides around campus on her bright orange golf cart named Clementine. She started several key initiatives of her own including Pete’s Pet Posse, a pet therapy program, and other efforts focused on making OSU a more healthy and active campus.
Before becoming OSU’s president, Hargis was the vice chairman of Bank of Oklahoma. He also practiced law for 28 years - and is a former president of the Oklahoma County Bar Association and Oklahoma Bar Foundation.
In addition, he ran for Governor in 1990 and is known for his 15 years of commentary alongside Mike Turpen on KFOR TV’s Sunday morning news show ‘Flashpoint’.
Hargis was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2009.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"America's brightest orange shines because of the work, dedication, and pride Burns Hargis and Ann have for the entire Oklahoma State community and will leave a remarkable legacy. On behalf of all Oklahomans--thank you Burns and Ann." - U.S. Senator James Lankford
"My sincere congratulations to Burns Hargis today upon announcing his plans to retire next year as president of Oklahoma State University. Along with First Cowgirl Ann Hargis, Burns has overseen an extraordinary resurgence at OSU during the past 12+ years and has been a transformational leader. As a graduate of OSU, I am proud of my alma mater. As governor, I am grateful to both Burns and Ann for their exceptional service." - Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt
"President Hargis has had an exceptional tenure as President of Oklahoma State University. His achievements in education are consistent with his contributions in banking, the law, and in public policy. He is a valued and preeminent alumnus of the University of Oklahoma College of Law and is a tremendous ambassador for the state of Oklahoma these many years. He’s rightly beloved by proud Cowboys everywhere, and our entire state owes him deep thanks for his service to higher education in Oklahoma. Burns is a friend, and I count myself fortunate to have served alongside him. My heartfelt congratulations to you, Burns, on a well-earned retirement!" - OU President Joseph Harroz, Jr.