Campbell gift takes Northwestern rodeo program to next level

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Campbell gift takes Northwestern rodeo program to next level

Feb. 23, 2011

Northwestern Foundation Release
 The Campbells
The Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo program was given new potential with the property and facilities gift of Don and Phyllis Campbell, pictured here about the time Truman J. Cookson built the Alva Sale Barn.
 Alva Livestock Market
Skeeter Bird, Northwestern Foundation CEO, Bob Battisti, Northwestern athletic director, Don Campbell, Dr. Janet Cunningham, Northwestern president, and Shannon Frascht, Northwestern rodeo coach, finalize plans at the former Alva Livestock Market and the future site of the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo facilities.
 Rodeo donation from Campbell's
Don Campbell (far left) discusses the features of Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s new rodeo grounds with (from left to right) Skeeter Bird, Northwestern Foundation CEO, Dr. Janet Cunningham, Northwestern president, Shannon Frascht, Northwestern rodeo coach, and Bob Battisti, Northwestern athletic director.


“The first step I wanted to take for the Northwestern rodeo program was securing new facilities, and thanks to the generosity of Don and Phyllis Campbell and the efforts of the Northwestern Foundation and the university, that vision has come true,” said Shannon Frascht, Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo coach, as he announced a gift by the Campbells, of Alva. The gift will provide the future site of Northwestern’s own rodeo facilities.

"This gift from the Campbells will fulfill a critical need for Northwestern and its rodeo program, and the university is tremendously appreciative of their willingness to provide us with a facility that will take our program to a new level," said Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president. "I'm sure every member of the rodeo program shares in our excitement and in our gratitude."

Don Campbell and Skeeter Bird, Northwestern Foundation CEO, worked together reviewing several options that would benefit both the university and the Campbells as donors.

“Don first contacted us to let us know that he thought the university needed to have the property and was willing to discuss how we could make that happen,” Bird said. “We finally found what we consider an optimal solution that included Don and Phyllis gifting about 80 percent of the property and the Foundation purchasing the rest.”

The gift—16 acres of land, a barn and livestock pens—combined with the Foundation’s purchase of an additional 5 acres, a shop building and grain bin, will meet the rodeo team’s practice needs.

“It’s very beneficial to the college and to us as donors,” Don said of the mutually beneficial agreement. “We had discussed it and thought it was in our best interest and that of the students coming to Northwestern.”

Don’s only tie to Northwestern may be his son Cris Campbell, a 1995 graduate, but at the heart of his gift is a desire to invest in the young people of northwest Oklahoma and to share a lifelong passion of working with cattle and horses.

“I think all young people should have an opportunity, and I felt that this property would be very beneficial to use for the rodeo team,” Don said. “It is an ideal location.”

The ideal location, 21 acres on U.S. Highway 281 just north of Alva, will provide a place for the rodeo team to practice and meet, a place they feel like is theirs, Don said. In addition to assisting today’s students, he expects the facilities to help in recruiting students to the Northwestern rodeo program, a program with new potential as a result of the hire of Frascht and plans for facilities.

Frascht reiterated Don’s sentiments.

“It’s great as a recruitment tool,” he said. “It’s been a long time in the making, but I think it will be well received by not only the students but also the community.

“I want to thank Don and Phyllis, the Airport Board, the Woods County Fair Board, the Woods County Commissioners and the City of Alva for support of our past and future endeavors. I look forward to continuing those relationships with the addition of our new practice facility. With the help of donors like Don and Phyllis, I hope to take this rodeo program to another level of competition.”

Looking for a place to locate, Don moved to Alva in 1973 with his new bride, Phyllis. He came to the area as a distributor for a line of farm equipment, but it wasn’t long before he was working as an auctioneer and real estate broker.

Active in the real estate and residential development business for 25 years, Don purchased the gifted property in 1989 and operated it as a livestock sale for four years. He closed what was then the Alva Livestock Company in 1994 before converting it to private use for his farming and ranching operation, which he started in 1986.

“Northwest Oklahoma has been good to me,” Don, originally from the Tulsa area, said.

And to northwest Oklahoma, Northwestern is very important –creating jobs and serving the state well –he said. The rodeo facilities will be an attraction for the regional university, but the good of the gift doesn’t stop there.

“It was interesting to show Don how he could take property that was not really benefiting anyone and give the property new life while saving himself thousands of dollars in taxes,” Bird said. “I consider Don to be an excellent businessman and now an excellent friend because of the opportunity to work together.”

For more information about investing in students at Northwestern, contact Bird at or 580-327-8599.