Dr. Oliver S. Willham took the helm January 18, 1952, as the first Oklahoma A&M College alumnus to serve as its president. He graduated in 1923 with a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry and returned to OAMC in 1935 to teach, rising to professor of animal husbandry from 1939 to 1950. He also served as vice dean of the School of Agriculture and he was appointed executive vice president of the whole college in 1950.
During his presidency of nearly 15 years, enrollment on the Stillwater campus nearly doubled from 8,236 to 15,079, and the college’s name was changed to Oklahoma State University of Agriculture and Applied Science. Willham added his own renovation and several new construction projects to the expanding campus while also fulfilling the building program he inherited. He guided the university’s programs in Ethiopia, Pakistan, and other countries around the world.
Wilham was noted for making himself readily available to the public and he gained a reputation for his composure, sense of humor and ability to win the trust and cooperation of others. He retired in 1966 after serving the second longest tenure as president in school history.