MAY 21, 2008

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Oklahoma family honors new OSU President Burns Hargis with $1 million endowed chair

Photo of Gene and David Rainbolt, Burns Hargis, and Robert Whitson.
Robert E. Whitson, vice president, dean and director of OSU’s division of agricultural sciences and natural resources; Burns Hargis, OSU System president and CEO; Gene Rainbolt, BancFirst chairman; and David Rainbolt, BancFirst president and CEO.

The Rainbolt family of Oklahoma City is honoring Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis with a $500,000 gift to establish an endowed chair within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. The chair will be valued at $1 million thanks to a dollar-for-dollar match by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

“We made this gift for many reasons.  My career has been involved with banks across the state in primarily agricultural areas of Oklahoma, and we wanted to see those rural towns flourish,” said H.E. “Gene” Rainbolt, chairman of BancFirst.  “But the triggering event was certainly when Burns accepted the role of OSU president. We believe he will be incredibly effective for OSU and the state of Oklahoma.”

Gene, along with son David, announced the gift at a special reception honoring the new president earlier this spring, and they hope the chair will encourage excellence in teaching and scholarship within the department of agricultural economics at OSU. 

“I am overwhelmed and honored by this generous gift from the Rainbolt family,” Hargis said.  “I greatly appreciate Gene’s confidence in me and his belief in the vital work being done by our agriculture college. This gift will strengthen the excellent work already being done by our faculty.”

Inspired by Hargis’ commitment to education, the family chose to establish the chair in agricultural finance because of their belief in Oklahoma’s agriculture industry and rural communities.

“Agricultural finance is very directly involved with banking on a variety of levels. We believe everything in our business begins with our customer: the producer and farmer.  The more prosperous they are the more successful we all are. We know that OSU is the home for Oklahoma agriculture and those farmers, which is what motivated us to make this gift in agricultural finance,” said Rainbolt.

The Rainbolt Chair will make a significant contribution to the economic well-being of farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma for years to come, said Robert. E. Whitson, vice president, dean and director of OSU’s division of agricultural sciences and natural resources.

“Today, more than ever, there is a need to educate students and agricultural clientele regarding financial and management issues in agriculture enterprises,” Whitson said. “Rising costs of seed, fuel and fertilizer are forcing farmers and ranchers to become better financial managers if they want to stay in business.”

Rainbolt also hopes the family’s gift will foster additional donations; particularly from federal agricultural lending organizations.   

“Our family’s ties with OSU are many.  I’ve long respected the department of agricultural economics; particularly Jim Plaxico, who is a friend and associate.  These ties reflect our respect for OSU as a high-quality educational institution,” said Rainbolt.

For more information on the OSU Foundation, visit www.OSUgiving.com or call (405) 385-5100.