An update on Ross McKnight, Oklahoma State ’70, who was originally featured in a 2014 Road to Greatness profile for he and his wife’s work with OSU on its Next Level Campaign (see end of article for original post).
A 2016 $25 million gift from Oklahoma Beta Phi Delt Ross McKnight and his wife, Billie, has come to a grand crescendo with the October 2019 dedication of the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts on the Stillwater campus of Oklahoma State University. The McKnight gift is strategic and aimed to help fill that venue with world-class performers who will entertain the public and mentor students.
“The transformation of any operation is always the programming,” Ross McKnight said. “Billie and I made this commitment to fulfill the vision of the performing arts center to expand the number and type of cultural opportunities available at Oklahoma State through vibrant performances and educational experiences.”
In gratitude for their vision and gift, the 93,000-square-foot building was named the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts at Oklahoma State University, Hargis said.
From 2014 Road to Greatness profile
How important is Oklahoma State University to Oklahoma Beta Phi Ross McKnight and his wife Billie? Simply put, without OSU, there is no “Ross and Billie McKnight.” The co-chairs for Oklahoma State’s Branding Success campaign 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.
They have gone on to success in both the personal and professional spheres. They have two children – Trent and Meggan – who proudly join their parents as OSU alumni. Meanwhile, 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. As a co-chair for the Next Level Campaign to raise more than $100 million for OSU’s football stadium expansion project, Ross along with Billie, have both the OSU passion and the experience to lead them throughout this audacious seven year endeavor.
As co-chairs of this transformative campaign, they are excited about the future of OSU. They are overjoyed at the opportunity to give back to the university that was the catalyst for their lifetime of success. They will shepherd the university they love to, and likely beyond, the projected goal of $1 billion, which will have virtually limitless benefits for the state, nation and world. With that in mind, maybe the big winners from that fateful Freshman Queen contest were not just the McKnights, but all who benefit from the endeavors of this modern land-grant university.