Oneok Gives $1 Million to OSU-Tulsa

Although talks began 18 months between Oneok executives and Oklahoma State University about a $1 million gift to OSU-Tulsa, the real decision was where to target the money, said OSU-Tulsa President Gary Trennepohl.
Tulsa-based Oneok Inc. gave $1 million to Oklahoma State University on Tuesday to establish a faculty chair in finance. The money creates the first endowed chair in finance at OSU-Tulsa.
Finance was the area Oneok and OSU-Tulsa officials could agree on, Trennepohl said.
“It was a combination of what the company wanted and what the university needed,” he said. “You have to get those things to match. The company hires all kinds of people. We had a lot a dialogue of what best suited their needs and what they wanted for their company.”
Once fully matched dollar-for-dollar by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and T. Boone Pickens’ chair match commitment, the gift will provide $4 million in endowed funds for OSU-Tulsa.
“We focused on finance because there is a shortage in finance, said Oneok Chief Executive John Gibson.
“This is a natural fit for us because of our location in Tulsa and our demand for finance majors,” he said.
The impact of the Oneok gift will be leveraged by Pickens’ historic $100 million academic donation on May 21. Pickens’ donation was used to match other donor gifts to faculty chairs and professorships in the area of the donor’s choice. As a result, the donors’ original gifts will quadruple once matched by the state.
Gibson said endowing the chair through the OSU Foundation is a result of the company’s commitment to higher education and a strong relationship with the university.
“We have more than 100 openings right now,” Gibson said. “Most people obtaining their degree want to live to in Tulsa. It was a good fit for us.”
Most importantly, there is a shortage of strong finance majors coming out of college with a broad view of the business world, Gibson said.
“With our knowledge and staff here, we can offer that,” he said.
Any graduate hired by Oneok is placed into a four month training program where they learn about the distribution company, natural gas liquids as well as accounting, marketing and engineering.
“They see it all,” Gibson said.
The training give new hires a look at all the opportunities at the company while providing the company a view of the candidate.
“We work at developing them, trying to figure out where they will go next,” Gibson said. “Finance majors can go into a lot of different places. They have that fundamental ability at analysis. We spend a lot of time looking at what we did. We need to spend time looking at what we need to do.”
Professorships and chairs are academic designations whose privately funded endowments provide support for faculty salary, graduate assistantships, equipment and research needs, as well as other support.
In order to take full advantage of the state’s dollar-for-dollar match, and make the most
significant impact on OSU academics, Oneok made the gift prior to the July 1 change in the state’s endowed chair matching program. This gift is part of the $68 million in endowed faculty gifts OSU announced this summer.

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