May 21, 2008

T. Boone Pickens Donates $100-Million to Oklahoma State U.

As oil prices rise to historic heights, the billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens is sharing some of the wealth with Oklahoma State University, his alma mater.

A day after Mr. Pickens, the founder and chairman of BP Capital Management, made news for predicting on CNBC that the price of crude oil would break the $150-a-barrel mark this year (it closed at a record $129 a barrel on Tuesday), Oklahoma State announced that Mr. Pickens was donating $100-million for endowed chairs and professorships at the institution.

The university said the gift was the largest for academic purposes in state history, but it is less than Mr. Pickens’s $165-million donation for Oklahoma State athletics in 2006.

“My goal has always been to make OSU more competitive in all areas,” Mr. Pickens said today. “I believe my donations to athletics and now this gift to academics will do just that.”

With the new gift, Mr. Pickens, a 1951 graduate, has given approximately $400-million to Oklahoma State. The most recent gift, which can be matched with state funds, is expected to endow more than 150 positions. The university now has 101 endowed chairs.

Mr. Pickens ranked No. 8 last year on The Chronicle’s annual list of the philanthropists who give the most to charitable causes. He donated more than $200-million in 2007.