NORMAN — Business as usual was marked by some good news and cause for gratitude at a regular meeting of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents Thursday afternoon in Norman.
OU President David Boren announced that the university received the highest number (and greatest monetary value) of private gifts in any six-month period, with donations totaling almost $140 million.
“It really is remarkable, this kind of financial support,” Boren said. “Especially at a time when our state fund budgets are hard-pressed, we’ve absorbed more than $400 million in uncompensated fixed costs over the last three years. Our alumni and donors have stepped forward in such a generous way. This helps us keep pace with the rising costs for students in scholarships, just through private gifts.”
The record-breaking figure announced Thursday represents a jump of almost $54 million from private giving this time last year.
Norman couple Jon and Cathryn Withrow were recognized for recently establishing a $240,000 scholarship for doctoral students researching Autism Spectrum Disorders. The endowment brings the Withrows’ total donations to OU to almost $2 million.
“Jon and Cathryn are part of these (giving) statistics, and we’re very honored they could be with us today,” Boren said. “I should mention that Cathryn has worked with Norman Public Schools as an education aid for students with autism, and seeing their unrealized potential led her to create this initiative.
“This is truly incredible to see human beings drawing from personal experience to give back in a very special way. Jon and Cathryn are true stewards of this university.”
Notable among the regents’ actions Thursday was the approval of the Water Innovative Research Laboratory, which — though in its most beginning stages — would serve as a new facility to combine water research programs across OU.
“In terms of bringing clean water to the third world, preservation of water, purification of water and transportation of water, OU has become a leader, and this is the very first step to promoting that,” Boren said. “We look to a time when we’ll need more and hope this will become a central hub of related disciplines similar to the National Weather Center for meteorology.”