MEET CAMPAIGN LEADERSHIP »
Photo / gary laWSon
M KNIGHTS C
HOW IMPORTANT is Oklahoma State University to Ross and Billie McKnight? Simply put, without OSU, there is no “Ross and Billie McKnight.” The co-chairs for Branding Success: The Campaign for Oklahoma State University met in 1971 when Ross was a senior and Billie was a freshman. As president of the Student Government Association, Ross selected himself as a judge for the Freshman Queen contest, where Billie was competing. She didn’t win, but the couple took the real prize, as that meeting was the first step toward their lifetime of happiness. “We’re really blessed, and we’re blessed with our relationship because of OSU,” Ross says. “I really want other people to be able to experience that type of relationship-building. Whatever success we’ve experienced later in life has probably come from the interactions that I’ve been able to make with great people.” Billie notes that OSU is a family tradition. Both of her parents came to Oklahoma A&M, with her father playing both football and baseball. Ross and Billie’s children, Trent and Meggan, join their parents as proud alumni.
“OSU is a tradition that has carried on, and that’s something that brings you all back to have something in common,” Billie says. Meanwhile, Ross and Billie have gone on to have success not just personally but also professionally. Ross dons many hats as a rancher, banker and oilman, and he was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996 and a Graduate of Distinction of the Department of Animal Science in 1998. He was a co-chair for the Next Level Campaign, which raised more than $100 million for OSU’s football stadium expansion. This couple has both the OSU passion and the experience to
ARE COMMITTED TO GIVING BACK TO THE SCHOOL THAT BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER
lead them throughout this audacious seven-year endeavor. Kirk Jewell, president and CEO of the OSU Foundation, calls the McKnights ideal candidates for this position. “Ross and Billie are the perfect choice for co-chairs of the Branding Success campaign because of their passion for OSU,” Jewell says. “Their lives were transformed at OSU, including meeting one another here. They are doing a remarkable job of leading this bold initiative, and they never do anything less than all the way. They will help ensure that OSU is successful and will fulfill its potential.”
We know this campaign will be a success,” Ross says. “We know Oklahoma State University is going to take its rightful place and not be denied the funds we need for chairs, scholarships and research. You can count on us. You can count on Billie, you can count on (OSU President) Burns (Hargis), you can count on me.”