A "New Frontier" for agricultural sciences

Fergusons

Oklahoma State University alumni Kayleen and Larry Ferguson at the New Frontiers campaign launch. The Fergusons donated $50 million to the New Frontiers campaign through the Ferguson Family Foundation, and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources will be renamed the Ferguson College of Agriculture.

Oklahoma State University’s New Frontiers project received a $50 million gift from alumni to rename and build a new facility for the agricultural college, OSU announced on Wednesday.

The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources will be renamed the Ferguson College of Agriculture, named after OSU alumni Kayleen and Larry Ferguson. The name change is pending approval from the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents.

The Fergusons, through the Ferguson Family Foundation, pledged a designated $25 million to start the fundraising campaign to construct a new, innovative teaching and research building to replace Agriculture Hall, as well as a $25 million endowment for the college’s operations.

The New Frontiers campaign is seeking to raise $50 million in private support to construct the $100 million facility, which is set to break ground in the spring of 2021. The vice president for agricultural programs and dean of the agricultural college, Thomas G. Coon, said the New Frontiers program and the significant gift it has received will usher in a new era of innovation to the university’s historic department.

“I think having that noteworthy of a gift come for our college of agriculture, it supports the heritage of the institution,” Coon said. “At the same time, it’s not just about the past. It’s about projecting our college forward as a leader nationally and internationally.”

President Hargis said the expansion of the agricultural college will not only benefit the university but also the multibillion-dollar industry of agriculture in Oklahoma and the region.

“The Fergusons’ gift ensures we can always recruit and support the brightest minds in the world,” Hargis said. “The Ferguson College of Agriculture will be a destination for researchers, professors and students. One can only imagine what discoveries will be made and how the world will change because of the work being done in OSU Agriculture.”

Gov. Kevin Stitt, an OSU alumnus, was in attendance for the announcement and spoke on the impact of agriculture in Oklahoma. The governor said across the 77 counties of Oklahoma, there are currently 38,000 farms that amount to $42 billion in direct economic activity for the state, employing over 300,000 Oklahomans.

“The success and rich history of agriculture in our state is due, in a large part, to this institution and what it means to this state, the natural resources that this university contributes to,” Stitt said. “So I commend the university for the innovation, for the teaching, the research and the extension efforts that have been critical to the growth of our state. OSU really sets the pace in research for our entire state.”

After announcing the $50 million gift and renaming of the agricultural college, Larry Ferguson said he hopes this venture will have a global impact and inspire others to do the same.

“We want to be able to impact people throughout the world and help feed the world," Ferguson said. “I really believe that Oklahoma State can be a center point, can be a light in feeding the people of the world. It’ll make a tremendous difference.”

The new building, which is set to break ground in 2021, is expected to be completed by 2023. It is set to be built diagonal from the original Agriculture Hall, east of Monroe Street and north of the Henry Bellmon Research Center.

Correction: It was previously stated the New Frontiers campaign will raise an additional $50 million, but it will raise $50 million total.

news.ed@ocolly.com