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Oklahoma State University

BURNS HARGIS: Up Close event offers students look at OSU, Stillwater

Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2015 8:15 am

The fall semester is in full swing and that means we are already working hard to attract students for fall 2016.

Oklahoma State University welcomed the second largest freshman class in university history of 4,177 students this semester. The class is 30 percent minority, making it the most diverse ever.

Attracting students to OSU is a team effort that extends beyond the campus to the broader community. Stillwater really is the quintessential college town and is frequently included on national lists of best college towns.

OSU hosts prospective students to Stillwater for campus visits year-round. In fact, we have one of our biggest recruitment efforts of the year scheduled for Nov. 2. Our Up Close event provides transportation to campus for high school juniors and seniors from across Oklahoma and north Texas.  

These students get an in-depth look at academic opportunities while exploring campus and interacting with current students and faculty. Students experience the energy of the campus as they visit labs and studios, participate in mock lectures, tour housing options and more.

Oklahoma State's partnership with Stillwater takes center stage this next week during our annual Homecoming celebration. The theme for this year's week-long event is “Stillwater, Still Loyal, Still True.” We expect more than 80,000 fans at walkaround Friday evening.

The seeds were planted for Homecoming with a small town harvest carnival in 1913. Today, “America's Greatest Homecoming Celebration” draws tens of thousands of alumni, family and friends back to Stillwater each fall.

Oklahoma State University shares with Stillwater and the surrounding area in a number of ways. One of the most visible is the arts. Our music, theater and art students and faculty offer the community first-rate cultural events and experiences.

To better highlight the activities in this area, we have formed the School of Visual and Performing Arts. It includes the Departments of Music, Theatre, and Art, Art History and Graphic Design.

With the OSU Museum of Art's Postal Plaza Gallery downtown, the Doel Reed Center for the Arts in Taos, and plans for a new Performing Arts Center, enthusiasm and momentum for the arts at OSU is at an all-time high. The new School of Visual and Performing Arts will better coordinate our programs.

We've recognized a number of highlights this semester and one I am most proud of is our continued excellence in diversity. For the fourth consecutive year, OSU has received the national Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from the prestigious INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

Thanks to the work of Jason Kirksey, vice president and Chief Diversity Officer, and his team, Oklahoma State is a community that respects and values every member. We take diversity seriously and recognize the benefits. We are encouraged by progress across many fronts.

One initiative of note was the launch in August of the OSU Center for Sovereign Nation Engagement and Partnerships. While OSU is a leader, this center will help us increase the number of American Indian graduates.

First Cowgirl Ann and I hope to see you at Homecoming! Go Pokes!

Burns Hargis is president of the University of Oklahoma State.

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