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Shrum named OSU president

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Kayse Shrum was named the 19th president of OSU last Friday, becoming the first female president in the university’s history.

Kayse Shrum set up the first Native American medical school in the country, secured a $197.5 million investment from Purdue Pharma to pay for the National Center for Wellness and Recovery and became Oklahoma’s first secretary of science.

All within one year.

That’s your new Oklahoma State University president.

Shrum was named the 19th president of OSU last Friday, becoming the first female president in the university’s history. She has served as president of OSU’s Center for Health Sciences since 2013.

“I recognize the historic nature of this,” Shrum said. “I hope that this moment inspires all of those women, young and old, to dream big.”

Shrum’s goals include further growing the university from an academic and social perspective.

“What I would love to continue forward is focus on academic excellence and growing academic programs and research and really continuing to build on the student experience and how we support students and make this a wonderful experience for them,” Shrum said.

Shrum was raised in Coweta and is proud of her Oklahoma roots. She completed her undergraduate studies at Connors State College. After that, Shrum received her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, which was her first step in a long and successful OSU career.

After being a student, assistant professor and dean at OSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, Shrum was named president of OSU Center for Health Sciences in 2013, becoming the youngest and first female president of a medical school in Oklahoma history.

Her medical background allowed her to help the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shrum was a member of the COVID-19 taskforce in Oklahoma and served 15 months as Gov. Kevin Stitt’s secretary of science and innovation.

Shrum has won many awards for her work. She was Journal Record’s 2019 Woman of Year, and won the 2019 Tulsa Osteopathic Medical Society Osteopathic Impact Award. She also completed executive leadership and management training programs at Harvard University

During her undergraduate years, Shrum was a star softball player, even turning down opportunities to play at Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska.

Shrum and her husband Darren, who will become the first “first Cowboy” in OSU history, have six children, five of whom attend OSU. Three of their children are adopted and from Ethiopia.

"It's an honor (to be the first 'first Cowboy')," Darren said. "It's just an incredible opportunity. It's just a once-in-a-lifetime position for Kayse and I. I have no problem supporting her 1,000%."

Months before Shrum was chosen, President Burns Hargis noted that he would want to see an OSU alumni fill his vacancy.

“That’d be great if we could find an OSU grad,” Hargis said. “It gives you instant credibility with the faculty, students, donors and alumni. I think it really helped me a lot to know that I drank the same Kool-Aid.”

When the board introduced her, regent Joe Hall was particularly excited because of Shrum's strong resume and OSU ties.

"Our national search brought us back home with the selection of Dr. Kayse Shrum," Hall said. "Dr. Shrum is well known and respected not only by the Regents and our university community but by the state and national community as well."