Boone Pickens Remembered at OSU
Courtesy GAVIN LANG, OSU
A catalyst for the rise of Oklahoma State football and a presence at every Cowboy home game for years, the legendary Boone Pickens is permanently honored with the statue unveiled at the stadium in November that bears his name.
Sculpted out of bronze by Enid-based artist Harold Holden, the nine-foot-tall statue is located immediately west of Boone Pickens Stadium and was unveiled before OSU’s Nov. 28 game against Texas Tech. At that time, Pickens became the third person memorialized with a statue on the Oklahoma State campus, joining former president Henry Bennett and OSU’s first African-American student, Nancy Randolph Davis.
During the span of his long career, Pickens created thousands of jobs and made billions of dollars— for others as well as himself — and he wasn’t timid about spreading it around. “I like making money. I like giving it away…. not as much as I like making it, but it’s a close second,” he often said.
The breadth of his philanthropy — which approached $1 billion — included health and medical research, treatment and services; entrepreneurship; kids at risk; education and athletics, with a particular focus on his alma mater, Oklahoma State; corporate health and fitness; and conservation and wildlife management.
In many ways, Pickens was a record-setting philanthropist. His $165 million gift to OSU in 2005 was the single largest gift for athletics in NCAA history, and the $7 million donation to the American Red Cross in 2005 was the largest individual contribution in the 150-year history of that organization. His unprecedented giving to OSU athletics triggered a renaissance in the Cowboy football program and was a key factor in its first Big 12 championship in 2011 and its first BCS Bowl win in the Fiesta Bowl matchup with Stanford in 2012.
On May 21, 2008, Pickens gave $100 million for the endowment of major faculty chairs and professorships at Oklahoma State. The OSU School of Geology already bears his name from previous gifts to OSU.
Over the years, Pickens donated close to $600 million to Oklahoma State, split virtually equally between athletics and academics. Backed by the record donation in 2005, Pickens and OSU athletic director Mike Holder set into motion the acquisition of land that has produced OSU’s sparkling Athletic Village, which now includes the Sherman Smith Training Center, the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center, O’Brate Stadium and OSU’s track and field facility.
“We could never thank him enough for all that he did for our university,” Holder said. “He gave us everything he had and all that he asked in return was that we play by the rules and dream big.”
In 2010, OSU launched its campus-wide “Branding Success” campaign and T. Boone Pickens again led the charge with yet another $120 million gift to his alma mater.
A hall-of-famer in both Oklahoma and Texas, Pickens was a world leader on the energy front with the launching of the Pickens Plan, a unique private sector initiative formed to address the economic and national security threats posed by America’s reliance on OPEC oil.
“He was just an old country boy from Holdenville, Oklahoma, but he could think his way around any Noble Prize winner,” OSU President Burns Hargis said. “Boone was a legend, a change agent, a life force that rarely comes along.”