NORMAN – University of Oklahoma Vice President and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione announced today that Sooner philanthropists Randall and Lenise Stephenson have pledged a $ 1 million gift to the Prentice Gautt Academic Center. The generous gift will fund OU Athletics’ newly established Growing Resilient Innovative Thinkers (GRIT) program.
The Stephensons are Oklahoma natives and products of the state’s public education system and understand firsthand the critical mission of the University of Oklahoma plays in the state. Their numerous gifts toward OU academics and athletics have helped Sooner student-athletes produce a school-record 21 consecutive semesters of at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA, a streak that dates back to 2012.
“Our gratitude to Randall and Lenise is immense for their steadfast and earnest generosity,” Castiglione said. “The opportunities this gift provides our student-athletes will help them excel academically while they are here on campus but will play a pivotal role in their lives far beyond their graduation date.
“Here at Oklahoma, we strive to be solution-oriented and Randall and Lenise are intentional stewards of this vision. The GRIT program creates a solution by providing resources for our student-athletes needed to achieve success in the classroom, and for that we are grateful. “
Randall Stephenson, retired executive chairman and CEO of AT&T Inc., currently serves on the Walmart Board of Directors. He started at AT&T in 1982 and went on to hold a variety of high-level finance, operational and marketing positions with the company, including chief financial officer from 2001 to 2004 and chief operating officer from 2004 until his appointment as chief executive officer in 2007 He has served on the PGA Tour Board of Directors since 2012 and from 2016 to 2018 served as chairman of the board of the Boy Scouts of America.
The Stephensons have been instrumental to numerous projects on the OU campus. Included was a $ 3 million gift in 2021 to the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education for the Transformative Tutoring Initiative, a program aimed at closing learning gaps among high school students.
The family’s most recent gift to the new GRIT program will allow current and future Oklahoma student-athletes to take the next step in their education and prepare for life beyond college. GRIT will provide high-dosage, explicit strategies to empower student-athletes to feel and find success while addressing academic deficiencies. The goal is to develop and empower student-athletes to see education as a lifelong journey full of growth, resilience, innovation and thinking.
“For many years, our entire family has taken great joy from watching OU’s amazing men and women student-athletes compete at the very highest level,” said Lenise and Randall. “We are excited to give back to these amazing young people by supporting their athletic efforts and, most importantly, their academic careers using the newest state-of-the-art teaching techniques.”
GRIT will be administered by OU’s Prentice Gautt Academic Center staff. The center, located inside Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, is open over 75 hours per week to student-athletes for academic assistance. It offers eight academic advising offices, a computer center, learning and skill development centers for reading, study skills, math and foreign language, and a career center.
“Staff and student-athletes alike are so appreciative for the amazing generosity of the Stephenson family,” said OU Senior Associate Athletics Director for Academic Affairs Mike Meade. “Their gift has resulted in the development of a dynamic and results-oriented initiative that will enhance student-athletes’ self-efficacy and academic growth as they make the transition to college. We are excited to see the impact of this program on their success in the classroom, their pathway to graduation and future opportunities beyond college. “
Interested in Supporting OU’s Prentice Gautt Academic Center and GRIT?
Individuals interested in supporting the academic excellence of OU student-athletes should visit TheSoonerClub.com/icf_academics.html.