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New OSU President Indicates No Immediate, Big Changes Are In Store

Oklahoma State University

OSU held a virtual meet-and-greet this week for Dr. Kayse Shrum, who was recently selected as the university’s 19th president.

Shrum served as state secretary of science and innovation from March 2019 through June 2020, playing a key role in building the state’s coronavirus response when there was a lack of testing or even just knowledge about the virus.

"That experience was like somebody handing you a road map and saying, 'OK, every major highway is shut down, don’t look at those. And now go find the destination.' When you really have to go through an experience like that, you gain a lot of confidence in your ability to problem-solve and lead," Shrum said.

Shrum will be the first woman to serve as OSU president.

"I recognize the historic nature of this and the fact that almost immediately I have a following of a lot of women and a lot of little girls want to take pictures with me," Shrum said.

Shrum has been president of OSU Center for Health Sciences since 2013. Under her tenure, enrollment at the medical school doubled, and the university launched a medical school in partnership with the Cherokee Nation and landed a new veterans hospital at its Tulsa medical center.

Don’t expect immediate, huge changes from Shrum, however, in her new role. She said she probably brings a different skill set than current OSU President Burns Hargis and will come in with ideas, but she’ll wait until she understands her new environment in Stillwater.

"What I would love to continue forward is focusing on academic excellence and growing academic programs and research and really creating, you know, continuing to build on the student experience," Shrum said.

Hargis encouraged Shrum to go on a listening tour to start.

"I’ve never in 13 some odd years ever turned down a meeting with a student. I want to know what our students think. Have they all been pleaseant? No, not all," Hargis said.

Shrum becomes OSU president July 1.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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