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From the President

May 1, 2020


Cowboy Family,


During what has proven to be some of the most uncertain times our nation has faced in recent history, one thing has remained certain: the resilience and innovation of the Cowboy Family. I have never been more proud to serve as the president of my alma mater, Oklahoma State University.


You have embodied the Cowboy Code to help ensure the health and safety of our community: 

  • Faculty and students moved quickly to teaching and learning online and our staff began working together remotely. 
  • An innovative and tireless team from our medical and veterinary schools supported by 150 campus volunteers created a diagnostic lab to process COVID-19 tests for the state in only 12 days. 
  • OSU Athletics assisted our lab team by stocking coolers with ice from concession areas to transport testing samples from health care providers across the state. 
  • Our engineers designed and produced PPE for health care workers. 
  • The OSU Foundation and Alumni Association provided emergency funds for student needs and 
  • Our medical school increased its telehealth program to provide far-reaching services to health care providers and teachers across the state. 

The examples go on and on. Members of the Cowboy Family have supported each other as friends and colleagues along this unprecedented journey, and I thank you for the grace and kindness you have shown one another. 


While we cannot mitigate every risk, we must now pave the way to come back together safely, mindful our utmost priority is your health and safety.  


Fall In-Person Classes

I am pleased to announce we are planning to have in-person classes on our beautiful campus this fall. Our campus leadership and COVID-19 Advisory Group are working on a variety of plans to ensure the wellbeing of our community remains paramount. The sweeping plans will consider classroom size, class structures and schedules, safety in student housing and protective methods for monitoring and maintaining our collective and individual health. We will assess our plans and timeline as we closely monitor the state’s decline in COVID-19 cases and will share with you detailed plans this summer. 


Phased Reopening of Our Campus

We are planning to begin a phased reopening of our campus to employees and visitors starting June 1. This plan aligns with phase three of our state’s reopening date for all workplaces while also considering the needs of our vulnerable populations. Key functional areas across the university are actively working to provide a safe and supportive environment for our employees and students to return to campus. This includes staggered department schedules for in-office work, surveying workspaces and classrooms for any social distancing changes, securing proper PPE, identifying cleaning protocols, setting limits on meeting size and educating our staff on how to work together safely and effectively. 


Within the next week, all supervisors will receive detailed guidelines and instructions to plan for a phased, safe reopening in their respective areas, keeping in mind any needs of employees with health concerns. Employees who reported to campus for work during the pandemic will continue to do so and employees who have been working from home generally will continue to do so until June 1, subject to instructions from your supervisor. To be clear, this phased reopening plan depends greatly on the ongoing decline of COVID-19 cases in the Stillwater and surrounding areas. We will continue to seek guidance from health officials and will keep you updated on all return-to-campus plans.


I applaud each of you on your diligence in social distancing to help our community, Stillwater and the state flatten the curve. We have come together as a Cowboy Family by staying apart and contributing to the fight against COVID-19 in countless ways. As we look to a future where we can come back together safely, we cannot let our guard down. I ask you to remain diligent and support the protocols we will put into place for the successful reopening of our campus. 


Thank you for showing our state and the nation what it means to be the Cowboy Family. 


Go Pokes!


V. Burns Hargis

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