A Texas couple leading Oklahoma State University's $1 billion "Branding Success" fundraising campaign will give $15 million toward that goal.
OSU officials planned to formally announce the gift by Ross and Billie McKnight during Saturday night's Bedlam football game between the Cowboys and Oklahoma Sooners. OSU President Burns Hargis said the gift will raise the total amount given during the campaign to $650 million. OSU officials said the gift will be used to establish the McKnight Leader Scholars Scholarship Endowment, which will be used to recruit up to 50 students a year from rural areas and smaller towns outside Oklahoma, particularly in North Texas.
"This is a generous commitment from two of our beloved alumni who have a special passion to assist aspiring young men and women who have rural community backgrounds," Hargis said. "As a result of this wonderful gift . Oklahoma State further embraces an important aspect of our land-grant heritage to pursue students involved in exceptional programs such as 4-H and FFA in addition to the leadership opportunities available to all high school students in rural communities."
The McKnights are the co-chairs of the "Branding Success" campaign. They live in Throckmorton, Texas, where they manage banking, energy, real estate and ranching businesses.
Their gift will qualify for a dollar-for-dollar match by OSU donor Boone Pickens' Legacy Scholarship Match program, meaning its value will increase to $30 million.
"Oklahoma State means so much to both of us," said Ross McKnight, who as a student was president of OSU's student government association. "In addition to receiving an excellent education, we also met at OSU. Without Oklahoma State, Billie and I would not be where we are today. And, as students from rural communities, we discovered the same welcoming and friendly environment at OSU that we had experienced back home. To this day, we are both grateful to Oklahoma State."