Oliver S. Willham

Class of
Oliver S. Willham

Oliver S. Willham

“There is no one I know who comes to work earlier, works harder, stays later, and has the best interests of the University more in heart than Oliver Willham.”
Henry Bennett, 1950


Oliver S. Willham was born in Kansas, and after his first year in a country school he moved to Oklahoma with his parents. Following graduation from high school in 1919, Mr. Willham graduated from Oklahoma A & M (now Oklahoma State University) in 1923, and he earned an M.S. in 1927 and a Ph.D. in 1935 in Animal Science from Iowa State University. He was employed by Panhandle State University (now Oklahoma Panhandle State University) from 1923 to 1934 as professor of animal science, where he later became dean of the university and vice president. From 1934 to 1935 he worked as a graduate teaching assistant at Iowa State University before moving to Oklahoma A & M (now Oklahoma State University) in 1935. There he held various posts: professor of animal science (1935-1939), vice dean of the College of Agriculture (1939-1950), executive vice president of the university (1950-1952), and president of the university (1952-1966). He gave much time to worthwhile causes, including the Oklahoma Heart Association, of which he served as president.

Fun fact

After his retirement in 1966, Mr. Willham was the first graduate of Oklahoma State University to become a president of that university. His 14 years of service to OSU were the second longest tenure as president at that time, and he was also the first president to retire in office.

Oklahoma connections

Willham came with his parents to a farm near Randlett, Oklahoma, in Cotton County in 1907.










Relevant Exhibits

Beyond the Portraits: Artists and Their Subjects

Beyond the Portraits: Artists and Their Subjects

This exhibition is an exploration of the diverse range of portrait artists featured within the Gaylord-Pickens Museum’s collection of portraits and busts. The eight artworks selected were created between 1924-2004 and showcase a wide range of artistic styles.