OU Launches Historic $2 Billion ‘Lead On’ Fundraising Campaign
NORMAN, OKLA. – The University of Oklahoma today announced the public phase of the largest philanthropic campaign in the history of Oklahoma higher education, enabling the university to fully deliver on its promise of changing lives and launching a new era of excellence at OU.
With a historic goal of raising $2 billion, “Lead On: The University of Oklahoma’s Campaign for the Future” supports OU’s core traditions of providing an unparalleled, affordable education; generating real-world impact through pathbreaking research and innovation; delivering world-class health care across the state; and creating a welcoming place for learning and belonging.
All three of OU’s campuses are positioned to benefit from the campaign, which will provide wide-reaching support for students, faculty and programs across the university.
“We see this as an extraordinary opportunity to shape our future into what we’ve always dreamed of, but never before been equipped to do until now,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Our goal is incredibly ambitious, but we know that through the unwavering loyalty of our OU Family, we will seize this moment to build upon our storied legacy. Together, we will achieve nothing short of transformation.”
The seven-year “Lead On” campaign has been gaining momentum since its quiet launch, which began July 1, 2020. Since then, $600 million has been raised toward the $2 billion goal. The campaign will conclude June 30, 2027.
In alignment with the university’s “Lead On, University” Strategic Plan, the campaign prioritizes increasing access through enhanced student support and programming, fostering faculty growth, creating research opportunities and encouraging a welcoming campus culture. Central to the campaign’s overall goal is a $500 million commitment to scholarship and student support, and a $300 million commitment to support the strategic recruitment and retention of talented faculty.
“The ‘Lead On Campaign for the Future’ is ambitious, far-reaching and unprecedented in OU’s history,” said OU Board of Regents Chair Frank Keating. “But, as with every effort taken at the University of Oklahoma, the campaign has at its core the goal of changing the lives for the better of our most important family members – our students. On their behalf, we dream no small dreams.”
“Lead On” is the university’s first comprehensive campaign in more than 20 years and comes on the heels of back-to-back record fundraising years for OU.
With the transition of the university’s advancement operation to the OU Foundation in March 2021, the restructured fundraising organization saw quick and early success, raising a record $237.9 million during the first year. Fiscal year 2022 proved even more successful, with $317.4 million raised from over 80,377 gifts – 54 of which totaled $1 million or more.
“As the recipient of a life-changing scholarship, I know firsthand how this campaign will create countless opportunities for students,” said Clay Dobbins, AIA, NCARB, a 2019 graduate of the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture at OU. “Receiving scholarship support allowed me to intern with an architecture firm in Oklahoma City, leading to a full-time position and launching my career. Donor support meant being able to achieve my dream of designing the future of Oklahoma.”
“Academic excellence requires strong student support programs,” said Zack Lissau, president of the OU Student Government Association. “Without scholarships, my peers and I wouldn’t be able to pursue our dreams, and many of these opportunities are made possible by OU’s donor community. Donor support creates countless opportunities for students with high aspirations. It is an investment that will benefit current and future students hoping to change the world without worrying about affordability or burdensome debt.”
Spearheading the charge to move the “Lead On” campaign forward are the Campaign Champions, a network of volunteer alumni and friends with deep admiration for the university and its purpose. Serving as campaign co-chairs are longtime OU supporters Jonny and Brenda Jones.
“‘Lead On’ is a call to action for the entire OU community,” said Jonny and Brenda Jones. “As donors ourselves, we have seen firsthand the impact that giving has on the enthusiasm of students, faculty, staff and alumni at OU. Giving to this campaign will help open doors to countless opportunities for those who wish to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the world.”
Below is a complete listing of the Campaign Champions:
- Jonny and Brenda Jones (Austin, Texas)
- Phil and Nancy Estes (Carson City, Nevada)
- Christy Everest (Nichols Hills, Oklahoma)
- Harold Hamm and Jane Hamm Lerum (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
- Bill and Sherri Lance (Sulphur, Oklahoma), representing the Chickasaw Nation
- Ken Levit (Tulsa, Oklahoma), representing the George Kaiser Family Foundation
- David Love (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
- Jenny Love Meyer (Nichols Hills, Oklahoma)
- David and Kim Rainbolt (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
- Dr. Jerry Ransom (Greenville, Texas)
- Jeff and Marisa Records (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), representing MidFirst Bank
- Regent Robert J. Ross (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), representing Inasmuch Foundation
- Bart Shelley (Nichols Hills, Oklahoma), representing Tim Headington
- Randall and Lenise Stephenson (Dallas, Texas)
- Steve Stephenson (Big Sky, Montana), representing the Charlie and Peggy Stephenson Family
- Ken and Laura Waits (Tyler, Texas), representing the Mewbourne Family
For more information about how to support the “Lead On” campaign, visit www.oufoundation.org.
About the University of Oklahoma
Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit www.ou.edu.
About the University of Oklahoma Foundation
To learn more about the University of Oklahoma Foundation, including different giving opportunities, visit www.oufoundation.org.