Oklahoma State University celebrates commencement for classes of 2021 and 2020; President Burns Hargis presides over his final ceremony

STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma State University graduates basked in the glow of commencement as the grand ceremony returned to Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday, May 8 for the first time since May 2006.

Nearly 4,000 graduates were recognized during the ceremony, with 18 percent of those graduates coming from the Class of 2020, which did not experience an in-person graduation ceremony last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an OSU news release.

Saturday’s ceremony was held in Boone Pickens Stadium to allow for COVID-19 precautions. OSU commencement is usually held inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Photo provided by OSU.

OSU President Burns Hargis, who is entering retirement, presided over commencement for the final time. He delivered the commencement address.

Hargis encourages students to be enthusiastic, persistent and not fear failure.

“Henry Ford said there are two types of people: those that think they can and those that think they can’t and they are both right,” Hargis said.

Hargis lauded students for persevering during the COVID-19 pandemic and said that he and his wife, Ann Hargis, will miss seeing them everyday.

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OSU President Burns Hargis. Photo provided by OSU.

“Every graduating class at OSU is special, but this class is extra special,” Hargis said. “You guys have navigated through the global pandemic, had to learn unlike students before you and made face masks a fashion statement.”

Hargis delivered his address following an introduction from OSU/A&M Board of Regents chair Rick Davis.

“Because of [Hargis’] transformative leadership, this institution and our OSU community is in a far better place than when he arrived almost 13 years ago,” Davis said.

Dr. Kayse Shrum, who had two children of her own graduate Saturday morning from the Ferguson College of Agriculture, will succeed Hargis as OSU President. Hargis gave special recognition to Shrum and all the mothers in attendance for Mother’s Day weekend, according to the news release.

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Photo provided by OSU.

The graduates were ecstatic for the milestone moment in their lives.

Clayton Hicks, who earned his bachelor’s degree in agribusiness, was thankful for the in-person ceremony. Hicks, a Ponder, Texas, native, will continue his education at OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“It is kind of indescribable,” Hicks said. “I am glad that we actually got to have a commencement ceremony. I am thankful the school was willing to put it in Boone Pickens and allow us to still walk. That is a memory I will probably have for the rest of my life.”

Photo goes with story
Photo provided by OSU.

The ceremony did have a bit of rain.

Jennifer Litchfield, a Midwest City native who earned two degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering, said she enjoyed the ceremony despite the weather.

“We had rain, we had sun, we had everything in between,” Litchfield said. “But it was special and being able to do this in general during the pandemic is exciting. Being able to see your friends and family up in the stands was really nice.”

Hargis’ full commencement address is featured below:

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