By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY— The Oklahoma State University A&M Board of Regents has announced that Dr. Kayse Shrum will become the 19th president of Oklahoma State University. The announcement follows an extensive national search involving an inclusive process composed of representatives from across the OSU system, including faculty, students, staff and alumni.
As the current president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, Dr. Shrum will be recommended for approval as the next president of OSU at the regularly scheduled Board of Regents meeting in Stillwater on April 23.
Dr. Shrum’s selection makes history as the first woman to lead a public research institution in the state of Oklahoma
”The OSU/A&M Board of Regents recognized from the start of this process the importance of conducting a thorough search to make sure we selected the most qualified candidate to lead OSU and the system into the future following the successful Burns Hargis presidency,” said Rick Davis, chair of the Regents.
“I appreciate the deliberative approach taken by our Regents, and we are grateful to Regent Joe Hall, who impressively led the process over the past five months.
“Dr. Shrum is well known and respected by the Regents and our university community. Her leadership has transformed our medical school in Tulsa, and her efforts have taken us to new heights we could only imagine a few years ago,” Davis continued.
“The establishment of the National Center for Wellness and Recovery is one of several milestone achievements. The center, which has brought national acclaim to OSU, has become the national focal point for breakthrough research to address the opioid crisis. What is most impressive to me for all the notable achievements is her commitment to students and their success,” Davis said.
“Students matter to her. Dr. Shrum is an effective leader, innovative thinker and her collaborative style, in addition to her great love for OSU, means the momentum we have achieved with President Hargis will continue unabated. I am excited about the future of OSU, the system and the state of Oklahoma,” Davis added.
Shrum has served as president of OSU’s Center for Health Sciences (OSU-CHS) since 2013, and her selection at the time made her the youngest and first female president and dean of a medical school in the state of Oklahoma.
After current OSU President Burns Hargis appointed Shrum to lead the medical school, she trained and served rural Oklahoma as a pediatrician before beginning her academic work at OSU-CHS.
According to Regent and Selection Committee Chair Joe Hall, Dr. Shrum was chosen from a national pool of highly qualified candidates in large part because she brings a remarkable track record of professional success leading OSU’s medical school.
”I have watched Dr. Shrum transform our medical school in Tulsa, and I am convinced that success will translate to OSU and our system,” Hall said. She understands and appreciates our distinctive land-grant mission of service to the advancement and betterment of our state.
“As a proud product of Coweta, Oklahoma, Dr. Shrum has a firsthand perspective of our state’s challenges and the role OSU can play in meeting those challenges,” Hal added.
“Based on what she has achieved thus far, Dr. Shrum will promote student success, academic programs, productive research and an inclusive and diverse community built on mutual respect. As president of OSU, she will be a great leader for our university and state.”
Dr. Shrum stated, “I am humbled and honored by this announcement. I am also thrilled because outside of my dear family, OSU has a special place in my heart. Leading the OSU Center for Health Sciences and helping students, faculty and staff come together to create something truly impactful to our state has been immensely rewarding for me. To lead our vibrant university and the system, which is so vital to our state on many levels, will be the greatest challenge and honor of my professional career. I am looking forward to this opportunity with high anticipation.
“I want to thank Chair Davis, Regent Hall and our entire Board of Regents. I do not take the trust you have imparted to me lightly,” she said. “I look forward to working with our board, faculty, students and staff on our shared vision of excellence and success. Let me also thank President Hargis, who had the confidence to appoint me to lead the medical school. I am forever grateful for our friendship and your mentorship.”
Under Dr. Shrum’s leadership, OSU Center for Health Sciences has experienced unprecedented growth. Student enrollment doubled as the center established new academic programs designed to meet the health care workforce needs of Oklahoma.
Shrum led the construction of the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Medical Academic Building, a state-of-the-art learning facility that houses Oklahoma’s largest and most technologically advanced hospital simulation center.
Her fundraising accomplishments include securing a landmark investment in 2019 from Purdue Pharma for $197.5 million to create the National Center for Wellness and Recovery for addiction treatment and research to address the national opioid addiction epidemic.
A supporter of collaborative partnerships, Shrum worked with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and his administration to establish the nation’s first tribally affiliated medical school, the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation, which opened fall 2020.
In March 2019, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt appointed Dr. Shrum to his cabinet as Oklahoma’s first Secretary of Science and Innovation. In that role, she played a critical part in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her innovative leadership approach and medical expertise helped secure much-needed PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) supplies and led to the formation of Oklahoma’s largest COVID diagnostics lab on OSU’s Stillwater campus.
A native of Coweta, Dr. Shrum is a champion of rural health and primary care medicine and has made the creation of a sustainable, rural primary care physician pipeline a top priority. She launched innovative high school recruiting programs like Operation Orange and Blue Coat to White Coat, created the Rural Medical Track curriculum and expanded the number of residency training programs in rural Oklahoma by securing support from the Oklahoma Legislature, Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.
Her numerous awards and accolades include being named The Journal Record’s Woman of the Year in 2019. Dr. Shrum and her husband Darren still actively farm near Coweta. They have six adult children.
Dr. Shrum will officially take over the role of president at the beginning of OSU’s next fiscal year beginning July 1.
To learn more, visit okstate.edu.