President Shrum’s Leadership Draws Praise as She Marks First Year in Office

President Shrum’s Leadership Draws Praise as She Marks First Year in Office

Since taking office as Oklahoma State University’s 19th president on July 1, 2021, Dr. Kayse Shrum has been busy. 

From navigating conference realignment and ever-changing developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, to launching a strategic planning initiative for the university’s future and raising over $180 million to support university programs, she has seized every opportunity to elevate OSU. She also manages to continue her own academic research and lead her family as a mother of six adult children.

On the one-year anniversary of her presidency, we look back at Dr. Shrum’s first year at the helm of the OSU system through the words of students, faculty and staff. 

Burns Hargis, former OSU President

“I commend Dr. Shrum on navigating several major challenges and completing a successful first year. Her leadership and vision are guiding Oklahoma State as it delivers on its land-grant mission to best serve students, our state and the world. I join the entire OSU community in congratulating Dr. Shrum on her first year as president and wish her continued success.”

Dr. Trudy Milner, OSU/A&M Board of Regents

“[Dr. Shrum’s] engaging style has brought new energy and excitement to our campus and system. More opportunities and challenges are no doubt ahead. I genuinely believe Oklahoma State’s future is as bright as ever because we have the leadership to drive success.”

Chad Weiberg, OSU Athletic Director

“Neither of us asked for something as significant as conference realignment to happen, and certainly not in the first month of our new roles. However, it did happen, and so you deal with it. And that was what impressed me the most about President Shrum. She didn’t back down and she didn’t shy away from the difficult questions or decisions. Instead, she stepped up and did what good leaders do — she led. And in the process, she provided confidence to our coaches, our staff and our faculty, as well as our alumni and donors, that Oklahoma State was going to be just fine. In fact, we found opportunity in the midst of the chaos. … 

“What I appreciate most about President Shrum is that she meets challenges and adversity and immediately begins to seek the opportunity that lies within. And she finds it. I believe that will serve Oklahoma State University very well.”

Dr. Johnny R. Stephens, OSU-CHS President and interim President of OSU-Tulsa

“Dr. Shrum grew up in Coweta, Oklahoma and has an inherent understanding of the needs of our state’s rural communities. When she talks about the land-grant mission and what that means for our university today, it’s personal to her. Both her upbringing and her work on rural health care and educating physicians for our state have impacted her perspective. She understands the priorities and needs of our rural communities, which gives her this rich foundation to draw from in her role as president.

“No one works harder than Dr. Shrum. Early in her presidency, she faced some serious challenges, with both COVID-19 and the conference realignment, that she handled with a strong voice and steady hand. This showed everyone what I and others knew: that Kayse Shrum was the right person at the right time for this role. She continues to bring 150% to this job every day, as is evidenced by how she’s connected with students, faculty and staff, as well as our donors. 

“Dr. Shrum’s background as a student-athlete and pediatrician really informs how she leads, even today. She’s all about the team, and selecting high-impact individuals for positions where they can contribute and make a difference is key to her approach. She’s collaborative and listens well, which I think is influenced by the athlete and the physician in her. This background and perspective really set her apart and contribute to her success as president.”

Dr. Kenneth Sewell, OSU Vice President for Research 

“President Shrum’s championing of OSU’s research mission in general — and Public Impact Research in particular — has had a wonderful dual effect this past year. First, her words and actions have excited and motivated our great research faculty to strive for even greater achievements. Second, she has helped OSU’s alumni and friends better understand how vital our research is to the quality education our students receive, to the overall economic impact OSU has on the state and region, and to our reputation as a premier land-grant university.

“Under President Shrum’s leadership, we will better define and deepen OSU’s core research strengths and find new and innovative ways to apply those strengths to solve society’s most pressing problems.

“OSU will continue growing into an even greater top tier research university by promoting and creating bigger and broader research collaborations — across disciplines within OSU, with colleagues at other universities, and with partners in industry and in government agencies. Society’s most vexing problems are large and complex; our research teams that solve these problems will need to be likewise broad and diverse. Under President Shrum’s leadership, I believe OSU will be up to that challenge.”

Dr. Ki Cole and Dr. Pamela Lovern, incoming Faculty Council Chair and outgoing Faculty Council Chair

“In Dr. Shrum’s first year as the OSU president, she maintained the tradition of a good working relationship between faculty and the president’s office. She met monthly with the Faculty Council officers, attended monthly Faculty Council meetings, provided updates to the faculty at each meeting and addressed faculty at the annual General Faculty meeting. She involved faculty in the recent provost search and successfully implemented a faculty raise program. Dr. Shrum has a genuine interest in faculty’s ideas, perceptions and experiences as being a part of the Cowboy family. 

“As the 2022 spring semester ended, President Shrum spoke on her intentions of working more closely with faculty in the coming year, including small group discussions, concerns about faculty wellbeing and quality of life, campus life for faculty and faculty satisfaction in the community of Stillwater. We are all excited about building an even stronger relationship with Dr. Shrum for the betterment of faculty, staff, students and the Cowboy family.”

Riley Pritzlaff, OSU Student Body President

“As members of OSU Student Government, we hear firsthand the praises from our student population about President Shrum and her initiatives. She continues to maintain a strong and positive connection with all students at our university.

“President Shrum has won students’ confidence by engaging with the entire student body. She has agreed to meet with the student body president on a regular basis to collaboratively address student concerns. Dr. Shrum is always around campus, and that helps us feel like we are an important part of the campus community. It is exciting to see that our president has started her tenure by prioritizing students and their experience here at OSU.”