The new Dean of the College of Agriculture at Oklahoma State meet with four pecan growers, Bill Ihle, Chad Selman, Mike Spradling and me at his office in Stillwater in August. Dr. Thomas G. Coon is from Michigan State University and his formal title is Vice President for Agricultural Programs Dean and Director of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. We each explained the nature of our particular enterprises and expressed our concerns about the loss of the pecan extension horticulturalist as well as our interest in having Dr. Smith replaced when he retires in a couple of years.
Dr. Coon seemed to be supportive and was very interested in our unique sort of agriculture. As his background is in fisheries (not nuts) he asked a lot of questions and indicated his intentions concerning filling the positions in question.
A few weeks before this meeting we had been informed that the Boone Pickens Fund for creating professorships had turned up some extra money that, when accompanied with State of Oklahoma matching funds would give us the opportunity to have an endowed professorship or chair for the faculty position currently held by Dr. Michael Smith. Pecan growers had raised about $100,000 over the past several years, but we had been told that the matching money was all gone so the effort had slowed and the money was in an account with the OSU Foundation.
We discussed this with Dr. Coon, and agreed that we should all work toward raising the additional money to get us up to the $250,000 needed to trigger the matching money from the State and Mr. Pickens. Time was of the essence since other groups were also competing for this money. None of us ever imagined that goal would be met so quickly.
Thanks to all who donated to make this happen. In particular I would like to mention the remarkable gift by Dwayne Scott. The Professorship will be named after Dwayne’s father, J.D. “Scotty” Scott. Also of particular note are the annual contributions made by Maxine and Paul Haden. In all 45 pecan growers have contributed.
Now there is a $1,000,000 professorship, the $250,000 given by pecan growers and $750,000 in matching money. Wow. Since we have met the trigger level of $250,000 every dollar raised now is automatically matched. Interest from this professorship endowment would fund that position from now on. The 3:1 matching will continue for the next $62,500 raised. After that the match will continue at 2.25:1.
If you are an OSU graduate and have ever thought that you might want to give some money to your school, this would be a great opportunity. If you are not (I am a Sooner) join us anyway. If you have sons and daughters that are or will be pecan growers this is your chance to insure that the kind of faculty support that we have taken for granted will be available to them in the future.