T. Boone Pickens, the founder of the investment firm BP Capital Management, has pledged $100-million to Oklahoma State University to establish a scholarship endowment, Mr. Pickens and the university announced today.
With this pledge, Mr. Pickens has committed nearly a half-billion dollars to the university.
Mr. Pickens, a Texas oil man, is one of the nation’s most-generous donors and has appeared four times on The Chronicle’s Philanthropy 50 list of the people who give the most to charity in one year. Including this new gift, Mr. Pickens has given at least $656.5-million to nonprofit groups since 2003. Mr. Pickens is also one of America’s wealthiest men: Forbes magazine pegged his fortune at $1.15-billion in 2009.
Oklahoma State gets the lion’s share of his gifts. He donated $63-million in 2008 and $165-million in 2005, both times for athletics facilities, and $55-million in 2003 for other purposes. He also gave a $100-million grant to the university through his T. Boone Pickens Foundation in 2008 to endow professorships.
Mr. Pickens, who graduated from the university in 1951, said in an interview that the institution will receive the money upon his death.
V. Burns Hargis, president of Oklahoma State, said he first approached Mr. Pickens late last fall about making another large donation.
“We’re trying to raise $500-million in scholarship endowment, and we need the money now,” said Mr. Hargis. “I told him we can’t make it without him. I knew if he did it, a lot of other people would be motivated by this.”
To date, the university has raised more than $473-million toward a $1-billion capital campaign goal.
Mr. Pickens said that he is giving the $100-million both to endow merit scholarships and to provide financial assistance for students who otherwise could not afford to attend the university.
“Our school will be better because of it,” said Mr. Pickens referring to his pledge. “You know, we’re a land-grant school, and I think the plan when land-grant schools were set up was so that anyone who wanted to attend could, and I think this just furthers that.”
Because of the volatile financial market, Mr. Pickens had pulled back from making large gifts in the past year but says he now hopes to continue his philanthropic giving in the years to come.
“We’re back up and going again.”