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Hargis holds degrees in accounting from Oklahoma State University and in law from University of Oklahoma. He is the second OSU graduate to lead the university as president.
Before he came to OSU, he was the Vice Chairman of Bank of Oklahoma, N.A. Before 1997, when he joined Bank of Oklahoma, Hargis practiced law in Oklahoma City for 28 years. He was a president of the Oklahoma County Bar Association, is a former president of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Hargis was also candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of Oklahoma in 1990.
Hargis, Epsilon Epsilon 992 is an initiate of the Oklahoma State chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity.