By: Steve Lackmeyer – The Oklahoman – Harold Hamm announced Wednesday his personal foundation and Continental Resources are donating a combined $50 million to establish an institute aimed at being “the center of all things energy.”
Hamm, founder of Continental Resources, and Oklahoma State University president Kayse Shrum said the Hamm Institute for American Energy will be the anchor tenant at what was previously known as OSU Discovery Center at 300 NE 9.
The Hamm Institute’s mission is to educate the next generation of energy leaders — in Oklahoma, the United States, and from around the world — cementing Oklahoma’s legacy as a global energy leader.
“The generous gifts from Harold Hamm and Continental Resources to establish the Hamm Institute for American Energy will have a transformative impact on OSU and the energy sector worldwide,” Shrum said. “With a state-of-the-art lab featuring wells drilled below the building, an auditorium, and classrooms, this building is fit for purpose.”
Transition to the institute is expected to start immediately with the $50 million to fund bringing researchers, scientists, and students and faculty together in one place to pursue innovation in producing energy while also looking at environmental concerns, pollution sources, and solutions.
The complex being turned into the institute was originally opened in 2016 as home to the GE Global Research Oil and Gas Technology Center. The division was then merged with Baker Hughes, which in 2020 donated the $110 million complex and adjoining parking garage to OSU. Baker Hughes leases the top floor of the building.
The initial funding for the institute will be a gift of $50 million dollars — $25 million from the Harold Hamm Foundation and $25 million from Continental Resources.
The building will eventually house the Oklahoma Hall of Energy Legends Interactive Museum, a public exhibit highlighting the history and storied legacy of Oklahoma’s great energy leaders.
Hamm, a native Oklahoman, and founder and chairman of Continental Resources began his career in oil and gas over five decades ago, starting out with a single oil service truck and a dream. Hamm cited Oklahoma’s history as a center for the oil and gas industry, where Phillips 66, Conoco, and Cities Service were all started.
An oil well is located inside the new institute and will be a part of its research mission. The entire area east of I-235, including all of the Innovation District, was a forest of oil derricks in the 1920s, and some wells remain, including one at the Capitol steps.
“It’s time, once again, for Oklahoma to become a global energy leader,” Hamm said. “It’s my hope the world will look to us for the best ideas when it comes to energy stewardship, research, and education,” Hamm said. “I see the Institute as a game-changer — a place where the best and the brightest will come together to responsibly solve the world’s energy challenges. A third of the world lives in energy poverty. We need to fix that. And we need to make sure Americans will always have an abundance of reliable, affordable energy for generations to come.”