About the University of Oklahoma Foundation
The University of Oklahoma Foundation is an independent not-for-profit corporation that encourages and supports charitable giving for the benefit of the University of Oklahoma. The Foundation acts as the principal organization through which charitable gifts are made and administered for the benefit of the University of Oklahoma. The sole reason for its existence is to serve the University of Oklahoma and the generous donors who support the University.
Since the Foundation's first $160 gift from the three original trustors in 1944, the Foundation's goals have been to obtain for the University the maximum benefit of donors' gifts, to protect the privacy and interest of donors, and to ensure that their gift's intention is scrupulously observed.
The formation of the Foundation was in response to donors’ concerns that money given directly to the University, a state agency, might be diverted to the state treasury and that donor intent could not be guaranteed. Donors also wondered if the legislature could reduce state support for an institution directly receiving private funding. The University's solution - at the time a pioneering concept for Oklahoma - was an independent organization to receive, administer, invest, and expend private funds solely for the benefit of the University of Oklahoma.
Incorporated in 1955 as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code, the OU Foundation is able to facilitate gift transactions, enable the acquisition and development of real property, and pursue investment opportunities that might prove difficult or impractical for the state institution it serves. The Foundation works closely with the University administration and faculty, particularly the Office of the President, the Office of University Advancement and the University of Oklahoma Alumni Association.
The OU Foundation also functions as steward of privately contributed resources, ensuring that they are used in compliance with donor intent and maintained separately from public funds. As an independent, not-for-profit Foundation, we assure donor confidentiality extending to files containing the donor's personal correspondence, documents pertaining to the gift, and to foundation board and committee meetings where that gift might be discussed.
First organized as a trust in 1944 at the instigation of OU President George L. Cross, the Foundation was governed by three ex-officio trustees—the presidents of the University, the Alumni Association and the Dads’ Association—with its limited business affairs conducted by OU officials. By 1947, however, the Foundation had assets after expenditures of $34,000, and its certificate holders (donors receiving one vote per $100 contribution) had a total of 471 votes, enough to elect a board of trustees and officers. In 1948, the trustees hired the Foundation’s first staff member, R. Boyd Gunning, who would serve more than 30 years as executive director.
In 1951, the trustees elected the first chairman, Ward S. Merrick, Sr., of Ardmore. By 1955, the corporation was reformed as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit. Under the new charter, articles and bylaws were adopted, including a 20-member governing board of trustees. Future changes included the 1968 hiring of a full-time treasurer, development of an accounting department, and the need for computer specialists on staff. In 1978, treasurer Ron D. Burton succeeded Gunning as the second executive director for the Foundation, whose assets then totaled $17.5 million. Burton would serve the next 29 years.
By 2000, the rapid growth of the Foundation once again necessitated corporate modifications, including establishing an effective committee system, eliminating the $100 voting membership, vesting control directly in the hands of the Board of Trustees, and adopting staff titles more reflective of responsibilities, notably the executive director becoming president of the Foundation. In 2007, Guy L. Patton, who had held a number of high-level executive positions with Fidelity Investments, became only the third executive director/president in the Foundation's nearly 70-year history.