Oklahoma State University

06/18/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/18/2024 08:44

Critical new funding to propel STEM, Polytech, engineering and ag programs across the state’s largest university system

Critical new funding to propel STEM, Polytech, engineering and ag programs across the state's largest university system

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Media Contact: Lance Latham | Chief Communications Officer | 405-744-4800 | [email protected]

President Shrum thanks governor and legislature for critical investments to build a STEM-enabled workforce and deliver better health outcomes

Oklahoma State University has secured a record-setting state budget allocation of $156.5 million to bolster Oklahoma's STEM workforce, the OSU Extension and experiment station network, and advance key One Health initiatives statewide.

The funding includes $80 million for expanding life science facilities at OSU. The allocation, which will come from the state's Legacy Capital Financing Fund, will be bolstered by an additional $80 million the university aims to raise through private donations to build a new, state-of-the-art life and physical science building on the OSU-Stillwater campus to replace the current buildings, which were constructed between 1938 and 1960.

The newly proposed 220,000-square-foot facility will cater to undergraduate science students and is expected to serve upwards of tens of thousands of graduates across the OSU System for decades to come.

In 2023, the OSU System produced 37% of Oklahoma's STEM graduates - over 10% more than any other higher education system in the state. OSU President Kayse Shrum said the new building will be instrumental in the university's goal to increase the number of STEM graduates by at least 500 students annually.

Dr. Shrum expressed gratitude for the record funding support, which she said reflects the state's and OSU's shared vision to increase the number of STEM graduates in Oklahoma, enhance the recruitment of top researchers, address Oklahoma's health challenges and elevate the Oklahoma economy.

"I am honored to lead the most extensive university system in a state that recognizes the significant impact of investing in higher education," she said. "By prioritizing these investments, we drive economic growth, cultivate a skilled and STEM-enabled workforce, safeguard our nation, and improve health outcomes for all Oklahomans.

"On behalf of the Cowboy family, thank you to Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Legislature for the confidence in Oklahoma State to wisely steward these resources and work together to build a better, stronger, healthier and more prosperous Oklahoma. This support enables us to continue our impactful work in education, research and Extension programs, deepening our commitment to serving the state."

Shrum also acknowledged the vital work of Rep. John Talley, who presented House Bill 2893. He said the funding would bolster OSU's position as a leading national research institution, promote collaboration and innovation through resource sharing across academic disciplines, and empower OSU to recruit and train aspiring professionals in health, veterinary medicine and other STEM fields facing critical staffing shortages in Oklahoma.

"This is a significant win for OSU and represents a major step forward in the university's statewide impact," Talley said. "The state-of-the-art facilities will not only enhance access to STEM education but also address the pressing need for skilled professionals in Oklahoma's workforce."

Other key Oklahoma legislators also voiced strong support for the legislation.

"OSU continues to serve all of Oklahoma and is a statewide leader in STEM education," Sen. Chuck Hall said. "They are proactively addressing the challenge of building the high-tech, science-based workforce Oklahoma will need to compete in the years to come."

Rep. Kevin Wallace said OSU has long been a leader in STEM education.

"This new funding will help support its efforts to educate thousands of new students in areas critical to Oklahoma's economy," Wallace said. "Supporting this legislation was an honor and I know it will deliver long-term benefits for all Oklahomans."

The remaining $76.5 million in state appropriations for OSU will be used for continued investment in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as One Health and human performance research, and increased compensation for Extension and experiment station educators.