RSU Foundation Holds Annual Business Meeting Oct. 25

  • two men shaking hands with award


man handing award to womanRogers State University Foundation supporters and board members past and present were in attendance for the RSU Foundation’s annual business meeting, held Wednesday, Oct. 25, in the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center on the RSU campus in Claremore.

Following opening remarks from Foundation Board Chairman Nick Harris, audit committee chairman Ron Lessley and Taylor D. Gilpin, CPA, gave brief reports, followed by updates from finance and investment committee chairman Steven Burrus and Michael Abboud of Trust Company of Oklahoma.

Noteworthy figures from fiscal year 2023 include $957,318 raised; $1,845,026 total dollars provided for RSU activities; $1,001,624 total dollars provided for scholarships; and 383 students who received Foundation scholarships.

Total net assets at the end of FY23 (as of June 30) were at $25,800,479, a slight increase from FY22, during which, they were $25,334,646 at the end of the fiscal year.

Vice President for Development Steve Valencia addressed the Foundation’s accomplishments from the previous year, while also looking forward to future goals.

“I won’t dwell too much on the past fiscal year of 2023, other than to say, it was a period of both challenge and opportunity,” Valencia said. “Inflation and economic uncertainty affected a lot of the non-profit world, including our Foundation, and as such, our giving was down from its five-year average. It was a good year, but certainly challenging.

“Our events continued to perform very well. Our main fundraising event, our auction and dinner, has been a great success, and the upcoming one on Nov. 9 is tracking to be our best ever,” he continued. “We established three new scholarship endowments last year, and our alumni office hit a major goal by formalizing a distinguished graduate program, inducting its first class last spring.”

Another major goal achieved last year was the Foundation’s eclipsing of the one-million-dollar mark in annual scholarship support to RSU students, Valencia said.

“In the past two years, scholarship support provided by the Foundation has increased 17 percent,” he continued. “Despite this success, the Foundation is only able to fund about half of the scholarship applications we receive. Scholarships will always remain a key component of recruitment and retention of students and will fuel the growth of Rogers State University.”

In addition to scholarships, the Foundation provided $1.85 million in support to various programs across campus, including academic and enrichment programs, athletics, and RSU-TV, Valencia said.

He also noted the Foundation’s 50th anniversary in 2023, crediting its successes to the decades of support from its volunteers, alumni and donors.

“As we enter our next 50 years, the Foundation’s support for RSU will expand to include a new emphasis on building campus infrastructure and leveraging existing new scholarship dollars to meet the goals of the university’s enrollment management plan,” he said. “This increased role will challenge us to expand our donor base, engage new donors and encourage younger donors to begin making annual contributions at various levels. We must continue to increase our support from outside Claremore. RSU is a regional university, and our private support base must be regional as well.”

Moving forward in support of the mission of RSU, Valencia said, development most focus on three key initiatives: increasing enrollment through increasing scholarship dollars, providing RSU with increased annual scholarship funds, and partnering with the university on the construction of a new STEM building on campus to replace Loshbaugh Hall.

“The growth of enrollment at RSU will be directly tied to the Foundation’s ability to increase scholarship funds,” he said, “and the future success of key programs like molecular biology, nursing and chemical engineering is absolutely dependent upon a new facility to meet the needs of our students.”

The future building of a new STEM facility would require an investment from the State of Oklahoma, as well as commitments from private funds, he said.

“A new STEM building will be a game-changer for RSU,” he said. “I know at times these goals seem very daunting, but this school – from OMA to CJC to RSU – has always found a way to make the seemingly impossible possible.”

Valencia closed by thanking the university for its support and guidance, and Foundation donors for making a difference and helping to bring the dreams of RSU students to life.

Following Valencia’s remarks, new board members were nominated and approved to serve three-year terms, including Bill Beierschmitt of Bartlesville, Melinda Kemp of Pryor, Cindy Leathers of Tulsa, Lisa Surritte of Claremore, and Mike Wilt of Bartlesville. Additionally, Misty Choat of Claremore was approved as the board’s new secretary/treasurer.

Following the approval of the incoming board members, Harris and Valencia recognized the departing board members Jacob Daniel of Claremore, Kay Ingersoll of Inola, Joe Jones of Claremore and Ron Lessley of Claremore, awarding them with gifts of thanks for their service.

The Rogers State University Office of Development is the fundraising arm of the institution and works to maximize the resources of the university and to leverage its effectiveness through obtaining the financial support of individuals, foundations, and corporations.

Since 1973, the RSU Foundation has been dedicated to supporting the educational mission of the university through private gifts and contributions.

For more information about the RSU Foundation, visit