Oh, You!

The OU Alumni Association Blog

January 25, 2015
by moak0801

From France to Norman and Back


Since returning to the University of Oklahoma to serve as president of his alma mater, David Boren has stressed the importance of adding an international flavor to the academic and cultural experience of students. Julia Mainini is proof of just how important such and experience can be.

A former Rhodes Scholar himself, the president has preached the importance of OU students experiencing the broader boundaries of the world. He also is quick to encourage students on the Norman campus to reach out to those from different cultures and backgrounds. In 2001, Mainini may have been just the type of student Boren would have had in mind as one to whom others should reach out.

Mainini came to OU that year as an exchange student from Ecole de Management de Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France. She would return six years later to pursue a master’s degree in business. The reason, she says, was pretty simple.

“Studying abroad in the U.S, and at OU was a mind opening experience for me,” Mainini recalls.

Mainini says after earning her first master’s in business in France and working three years as a brand manager for a cosmetics company there, her year-long exchange experience at OU convinced her it was time to come back and earn a master’s of business administration.

Despite a heavy load in the classroom and the demands of a job, Mainini found founded the French and Francophone Student Association.

“A fellow classmate, Rahul Nayak, who was president of the Indian Student Association, convinced me I could do it,” Mainini explains. “I served as president for the 2007-2008 academic year. After I graduated I continued as a consultant with the group.”

Mainini said the focus of the group continues to be service as a conduit to French and Francophone culture, providing a voice for French-speaking students on campus and to share the culture with the greater campus community.

That passion for OU and her native France is a major factor in the establishment of the OU France Alumni Network in September 2013, of which Mainini has been chosen president.

During her time at OU, Mainini served as a graduate assistant under Dr. Millie Audas, Director Emerita of Education Abroad and International Student Services at OU. She credits the mentorship of Dr. Audas with her desire to strengthen the bonds between OU and her native country.

“She is the type of woman I aspire to be,” Mainini points out. “I was lucky to meet her in 2001 and to work for her for two years while working on my M.B.A. She inspired me to create and lead FFSA and now to create and lead OU FAN.

“ I learned so much from my mentors and had the chance to have their entire support and guidance throughout my studies, professional career and life.”

Mainini says since 2002 she has met and kept in contact with French OU students from all over France, especially in Paris, and experienced an incredible connection.

“The bond that we created while studying abroad at OU was so strong that our friendships are very sincere, loyal and forever enriched with the experience of learning a new culture, language and education in the U.S. and at OU” Mainini says.

In September, FAN held its first reunion of French OU alumni and students. Nearly 100 people attended the event, held in the heart of Paris.

As an official Alumni Association club, OU FAN will hold monthly meetings of officers and has three events planned for 2015, including a February 12 meet-and-greet, a June summer gathering and fall event still in the works.

Mainini says the club is gathering information and records related to French alumni back to 1991. In addition, they plan to raise funds to establish scholarships for French students hoping to study at OU.

“The experience and the connections we build abroad are very strong and remain for a lifetime,” Mainini points out. “I truly believe in the importance of building a strong network of OU Alumni in France.”

OU FAN information can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OUFranceAlumniNetwork and on LinkedIn at OU France Alumni Network. Anyone interested in the network can email ou.francealumni@gmail.com.

View pictures from OU FAN’s reunion event by visiting the OU Alumni Association Flickr page.

November 3, 2014
by oualumni

European Trip Hits Home for Sooners

TexasTech@OklahomaOctober 15, 2014

For some 11 years, University of Oklahoma volleyball coach Santiago Restrepo has dreamed of taking his Sooner team overseas. This past summer that dream came true and for Restrepo and his players, it may still seem a little Oz-like.

From May 22 through June 2, the Sooners spent time in the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Italy. As the chill of November sets in, the importance of the trip is still as fresh as an April morning in Oklahoma.

“It was definitely a very good experience,” Restrepo recalled as his Sooners were coming off a huge win over then second-ranked Texas the last week of October. “The sightseeing, the learning about different cultures and countries, and at the same time playing a different style of volleyball. It was extremely important.”

The trip, allowed for programs every four years under NCAA rules, came at the perfect time. With the loss of All-Conference hitters, Sallie McLaurin and Keila Rodriguez, and with setter and defensive specialist, Kaitlyn Drawe, as his only senior, Restrepo knew well his team was going to need time to come together on and off the court. Those days trekking across Europe provided that time.

“To me it was a huge benefit,” Restrepo said. “We developed some chemistry before the season started. Once you go into preseason, you have two and a half weeks to prepare for the season. That’s not much time to get in synch.”

Among the more important benefits was time to allow two hitters in sophomore Kimmy Gardiner and freshman Marion Hazelwood to step into the shoes of McLaurin and Rodriguez. Both have done so admirably. However, with the extra practice time and more importantly, the time in Europe, Restrepo and his staff had bigger goals in mind. Namely, ensuring his team developed a healthy appreciation of their home.

“Being able to take it all in and being grateful for the opportunity was so important,” Restrepo stressed with his Sooners. “From the get-go, I told the team not too many people have the opportunity to do this in their lives. I thought our group grew up a lot on the trip. It’s very easy to say, ‘what is this food or I don’t want to try that or what is this.’ It’s easy to get into that habit of being spoiled. But, our kids were very mature about the trip.”

Sophomore Madison Ward agreed with her coach that much of the benefit of the overseas journey came in the form of gratitude.
“The most important thing for myself was coming back and realizing I’m spoiled here,” she admitted. “We have everything at our disposal here. We have water in the buckets when we’re thirsty. We don’t have to bring our own water and towels. To see the passion of the girls we played who don’t have that made me step back and realize how beautiful this is.”

Ward admits playing in the dimly lit, tight fitting gyms the Sooners experienced, traveling for 10 days with each other and having time to explore new lands was pivotal to the growth of a young team.

“You don’t know someone until you’re with them in another country for that many days, traveling together, being in small group settings or together as a whole team,” Ward explained. “We’re close, but whenever you’re on a trip and talking about life, it’s great. You go and travel 10 days in different countries, you get to know someone and where they are at.”

Make no mistake; the Sooners also gained some valuable on the court experience. Restrepo said the service-driven European style his team saw from the Croatian, Italian and Czech junior national teams, as well as a Czech professional team, coupled with nuisances such as a different ball, helped with his Sooners on-the-court development.

“The ball floats a lot more,” he pointed out. “It was really good for our passers. They had to move their feet to be in place and be set to pass the ball accurately.”

Ward agreed, the style of play has made her and her teammates better players.

“There were so many different things they were throwing at us,” she said. “Different ways they communicate, different plays they would run. Everything. It was all about the serving game there, so we had to be better about passing. That was huge for my own game. When we got back I felt like I had gotten a little bit of experience under my belt in overcoming different situations.”

The experience the Sooners gained has resulted in a 16-6 overall record after the beating the Longhorns the last week of October and opening November with a win over West Virginia. At 7-2 and in second place in the Big 12 Conference, the Sooners are ranked 25th in the country. Still, Ward isn’t satisfied.

“We don’t need to focus on the Texas win so much as the games coming up,” Ward said. “We have to put it into perspective as kind of we haven’t really done anything yet. We have to keep pushing forward.”

While still looking for more from the portion of the season that lies ahead, both Ward and Restrepo believe everything was wrung out of the European volleyball adventure.

“When you go into the gyms in others country, it’s incredible the difference,” Restrepo emphasized as he looked around a transformed McCasland Fieldhouse. “We’re more appreciative of what we have. For the most part, we have very down-to-earth kids. But, sometimes you have to bring them back down. You have to say, ‘hey, look at this gym. Did you see a gym like this while you were in Europe?

“It was the right time and the right place to be able to grow and build great chemistry.”

Ward, who has earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors this year, echoed her coach’s sentiments.

“It was beautiful,” she recalled. “We went down to the Adriatic and jumped in. Stuff like that is something I’ll have a memory of forever. Having volleyball as a part of that made it so much sweeter. The fact we were growing as a team.

“We should never take anything for granted. We’re really blessed.”

TexasTech@OklahomaOctober 15, 2014

November 3, 2014
by oualumni

Rock, Scholarship, Engineer


Ever wondered what it took to make an engineer? In the case of a University of Oklahoma freshman, you can mix in equal parts of the Kansas landscape, two encouraging high school employees, a hard-working mom and a good dose of scholarship assistance.

Marquez Byrd is in his first semester as a petroleum engineering major. The Union High School graduate from Tulsa has thought about an engineering degree since first discovering the rocks that covered his young world in Wichita, where he was born.

“I was always finding these different types of rocks,” Byrd recalls. “I’d go out and mess with them and look at the shapes and colors. It always fascinated me how rocks form in so many different ways. That geology side of it pushed me toward being a petroleum engineering major.”

The youngest of seven children, Byrd would be the first in his family to head to college. In addition to his fascination with rock formations, a few other factors would figure in Byrd landing at OU.

Most of his life he’s watched his mother, Shanita Washington, work long, tiring hours to support her children. Never, Byrd says, did she fail to provide.

“My mom has always made sure we had food on the table, clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads. She really struggled at times to make ends meet, but she’s such a strong woman. She could have easily given up and she never has.”

He also was on the receiving end of encouragement from Union counselor Sandi Franklin and attendance secretary Susan McCoy, both of whom ensured Byrd knew he could accomplish whatever dreams filled his head.
“They really believed in me,” Byrd says of Franklin and McCoy. “They helped me believe in myself and they really pushed me to do what I wanted to do. They encouraged me to believe in myself and my ability to go to college and earn a degree. That was huge.”

Byrd’s approach to his college experience engenders his mother’s spirit. In addition to a full academic load, he’s active in Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, as well as with the Union Programming Board, Class Council and the Multi-Cultural Engineering Program.

“I feel like getting involved in all those organizations has helped me meet new people and expand my horizons,” Byrd says. “It’s helped me become a better leader, working with organizations and the projects I work on. It’s been amazing.”

Byrd is quick to point out it’s the scholarship assistance he receives that has enabled him to tackle academics and a full schedule outside the classroom. His college costs are covered by scholarships from the Robert S. and Helen G. Trippet Foundation of Tulsa, and the OU Club of Tulsa.

“I’m used to working and handling academics at the same time,” Byrd points out. “But, I wouldn’t be able to do as much on campus if I was working. I wouldn’t be able to be as involved as I am. I really appreciate the opportunity to take part in these different organizations.”

Byrd also appreciates the generosity of scholarship supporters for another practical reason.

“I was looking at graduating with a lot of debt,” he says. “It means a lot to me that people have taken in interest in financing an education for those who can’t afford it on their own.

“The scholarships have meant a tremendous amount. They’re really financing my future.”

That future, Byrd hopes includes a stint overseas. Having not had the means to travel much outside of Oklahoma as a kid, Byrd has a strong interest in living and working in France. This summer he hopes to spend a semester in Paris as part of a study abroad program.

“I definitely think it would be a great opportunity to live overseas and work in the oil industry,” Byrd says hopefully. “It’s definitely one of my goals, at least for a year after I graduate, to have that experience.”

Byrd adds that among his other goals is to be on the other end of the scholarship continuum one day.

“I definitely hope to be able to give back,” he stresses. “When somebody asks me to fund their future, I plan to give back. I think it’s necessary for me to return the favor.”

September 29, 2014
by oualumni

Homeward Bound

Unlike his Oklahoma Sooner teammates, Buddy Hield has played more than his share of basketball in the Bahamas. Much of his game was honed on dusty dirt courts in Freeport with baskets often constructed from a pole and whatever a ball fit through, some put up by Hield himself.

This November there will be no dirt courts. The baskets will be regulation builds and Buddy won’t have done the work to ensure any of them are ready to welcome his smooth-as-silk jump shot.

The Sooners will take part in the prestigious Battle for Atlantis, November 26-28 in Nassau. Although he’ll be some 140 miles south of his hometown of Freeport, make no mistake “Buddy Love” will be home.

“It’s really exciting. I think about it everyday,” Hield says. “Going down there and seeing my family and friends. Being back home in the Bahamas is going to be special.”

Joining the Sooners in the Bahamas will be UCLA, Georgetown, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Butler and Alabama-Birmingham.

For Hield, heading back to the Bahamas holds lots of meaning. A track star until the seventh grade, he caught hoops fever watching the NBA Finals, specifically another talented shooter in Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant. Soon, his attention turned to honing his skills on the makeshift courts in his Eight Mile Rock neighborhood. A natural shooter with a flair for creating his own shots, Hield’s game needed structure. He would find that structure with the help of Fitzgerald “Fitz” Forbes, a basketball junkie who coached kids out of a love for the game.

Forbes was honest with young Hield, saying his shot was solid, but the rest of his game was unpolished.

“He used to tell me I’d be a good 21 player, but not a good team player,” Hield recalls. “I would ask him what he was talking about and now I understand. I really figured out with him how to become a better team player.

“Every time someone says something to me about what I can’t do, I try to prove them wrong. When I was playing high school ball, he always pushed me to be better. He thought I could be really good and I didn’t see it at times, but he saw it.”

Hield worked at his game on the Rucker Park-like public courts in Freeport. In addition to rounding out his skills, he picked up another part of his game Sooner teammates and fans readily recognize.

“It’s different from America,” Hield explains about playground ball on the Big Island. “If a guys hits a spectacular shot or dunk or something, they rush the court and start celebrating. It’s a fun deal. That’s where I get all my energy. Having fun in a great environment.”

As his game grew, Hield decided a move to the U.S. would help with exposure and the recruiting process. He landed at Sunrise Christian Academy outside Wichita and would choose OU over the Kansas Jayhawks among others.

Now a junior, Hield had a busy 2014 off-season, attending camps run by Kevin Durant and LeBron James and playing with the Bahamian National Team. Back in Norman, the Sooners are coming off a solid season in which they finished second in the Big 12 and saw coach Lon Kruger named Big 12 Coach of the Year. With a solid core of veterans back, Hield thinks OU can make some noise this season.

“We want to win the championship,” Hield says about the Battle for Atlantis. “We’re not trying to settle for less. I know I’m going back home, but it’s going to be a tough tournament and we’re going to go out and try and win the first one and move on to the next one and the next one.”

Although basketball will be the focus, Hield admits to looking forward to playing in front of family and friends, and some home cooking. The kitchen type.

“My mom wants to cook for us and I don’t know if we’ll have time to do that,” Hield says while flashing his signature smile. “She wants to put a lot of food in us, but she doesn’t want us to eat too much before a game. I’m going to get some home cooking not matter what, even the guys don’t get it. I’m going to eat it every night I can.”

He also knows he’ll have his own contingent of fans in the gym for each outing.

“They talk to me everyday about getting tickets,” Hield says of his family, including six siblings. “They want to go, some aunties want to go. I’m trying to get as many people as I can in and I’m trying to get my family in first. Hopefully, everyone else will come too.”
One person who won’t be in the stands is Fitz, who passed away in 2012. But that doesn’t mean the man who pushed him to become the all-around player he is today won’t be on Hield’s mind.

“I think about him a lot,” Hield says. “He’s a guy I always think about. He got me started. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today and taking basketball seriously.”
As serious as he takes the game, in part because of Fitz, Sooner fans know it’s Hield high-voltage style that often electrifies the Lloyd Noble Center. Hield hopes Nassau looks and feels a lot like the LNC come November.

“It’s going to be fun being down there, being home and seeing people from Oklahoma there coming to support us,” Hield believes. “It will be a mixture of my family, my hometown and our fans pulling for the same team. That’s pretty cool.”

Cool as a Buddy Hield jump shot.

Travel to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.

September 26, 2014
by oualumni


Time changes many things, and the 50 years after college graduation are enough time to account for significant change.  Dreams are made or lost or replaced, new jobs – hopefully better – are found; addresses change to accommodate new circumstances.

But 50 years has not changed or dimmed the appreciation Feridon Shahbaznia feels for his alma mater. Shahbaznia, who received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1963, rekindled his fondness for the Norman campus while traveling to Oklahoma from Los Angeles for Reunion 2013, marking 50 years since he’d studied in an OU classroom.

Although he had been back on campus one other time since he graduated, Shahbaznia remembered exactly how he felt when he arrived at OU as a young man.

“My dream then was to go to college and have a college degree,” he said. “I didn’t know where it would take me.”

The story of how Shahbaznia made his way to OU, scratched together the resources to complete his degree, and the road he has taken since is a remarkable one.

Born and raised in Iran, Shahbaznia grew up dreaming of becoming a doctor, someone who would better the lives of others. However, space in medical schools was extremely limited – out of 25,000 applicants each year, only a few hundred were accepted.

After three years of waiting, hopes held high and then let down, Shahbaznia had enough. He wanted an education, which he felt would give him a chance to contribute to the world. Putting thoughts of medical school behind him, he set his eyes on a new goal: go to a college in the United States.

When he announced to his family that he had been accepted to OU, attained his visa from the U.S. Consulate, and would be leaving in two weeks for America, he was met with disbelief, and more than a little concern. But Shahbaznia was persuasive and more determined than ever to go to college. The start of the fall semester found him sitting in an OU lecture hall alongside fellow students.

During the school term, he threw himself into studies with zeal. In the summer, he traveled with friends to California. They went for fun; he went for a job. The money he’d made working for a construction company in Iran before arriving in the U.S. was all but gone.

He worked multiple jobs, as a busboy, dishwasher and gas station attendant. Sometimes, he would put in 17 hours in a day. During the school year, he pushed himself to study until midnight.

“I did this six years in a row,” Shahbaznia recalled. “The picture at the end was a victory.”

After graduation, Shabaznia returned to California again to work, but not as a busboy. He took a job at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works as a civil engineer. At the time, L.A. was working on numerous projects to build roads and bridges.

During his time in L.A., he met and married his wife, Silvia and started a family. His career continued to grow. He went from a civil engineer to a building contractor and began to build apartments in the area. Today, he owns almost 70 apartment buildings in L.A.

With all the success he’s enjoyed since his time in Norman, Shahbaznia has never forgotten OU. While attending Reunion last fall, he was happy to see the changes his alma mater had made and the renewed vitality of the university.

“Everything is just fantastic,” he said. “There are so many new buildings, and even Norman is different from how I remember it.”

The visit was also an opportunity for Shahbaznia to remember the path that led him, ultimately, to success. Walking through the buildings where he one had classes, he remembered the good times and the struggles but, he said, if he had ten lifetimes to live he would do all of it again just as he had.

Some things, it seems, don’t change.

Reunion 2014 is scheduled for October 17 on the Norman campus. For more information, visit ou.edu/alumni/reunion or contact Jill Stephens at jills@ou.edu.

August 10, 2012
by catl7141

A Little Bit of Norman in Afghanistan

A few weeks ago, the OU Alumni Association received an email from a soldier serving in Afghanistan. Staff Sergeant Kleinsorge told us that there were entirely too many Texas fans (meaning more than zero) where he is stationed and asked if we wouldn’t mind sending him and his fellow Sooners some OU gear that would boost morale and maybe bug the Texas fans a little. Of course we are always willing to support our troops, and ruffling the feathers of a few Longhorns is just the icing on the cake. The care package included t-shirts, sunglasses, dog tags, a pennant and a few other OU items.  

The brave soldiers featured in this picture are (left to right) Staff Sergeant Labryant Venson, Staff Sergeant Michael Kleinsorge and First Lieutenant Samuel Vaughn. Even though these soldiers never attended OU, they are still connected to the university and are devoted Sooners at heart. SSG Kleinsorge’s wife is an OU alumna, who received her master’s in social work. First Lieutenant Vaughn’s father received a bachelor’s degree in nursing and SSG Venson is the nephew of one of OU’s favorite quarterbacks- JC Watts.

We are extremely grateful to these men and the other service men and women of the US Armed Forces who are overseas fighting for our country and we hope that the care package provided them a little comfort and a touch of home.

Live on, University and live on, America!

August 6, 2012
by catl7141
1 Comment

A Little Bit of London in Norman

I’m sure you’ve noticed, and probably agree, that OU has the coolest telephone booths. The distinctive red boxes are a campus favorite and we’ve all at least thought about going into the them to pretend to phone the Queen and ask her (in a British accent, of course) if she’d like a “spot of tea”.
The six phone booths were brought here by President David Boren not just for the beautification of our campus but for the convenience and safety of our students as well. The idea of the phone booths came from the President’s time spent in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
We hope that these unique telephone boxes are serving another purpose, too. As the twelve athletes and the seven staff members with OU ties, who are currently in London, see the signature British phone booths, we hope they are warmly reminded of Norman and know that everyone back at home is supporting them and sending them positive thoughts.
Five Sooners are running, jumping and throwing in various Track and Field events. Brittany Borman (Javelin) and Tia Brooks (shot put) are representing the United States. Three Sooners are representing their native countries: Latoya Greaves (100-Hurdles) of Jamaica, Kerri-Ann Mitchell (100 meters) of Canada and Laverne Jones- Ferrette (100 & 200 meters) of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Freestyle Wrestlers Sam Hazewinkel, competing in the 55kg, and Jared Frayer, in the 66 kg, are pinning down the competition for the United States.
Jonathan Horton, Jake Dalton and alternates, Chris Brooks, Steven Legendre and Alex Naddour, flipped their way to glory for the US Men’s Gymnastics team.
Helping athletes achieve their goals are the Sooner Olympic staff members: Brian Blutreich (Team USA-Track & Field Personal Coach), Dr. Robert Hines (Team USA-Wrestling Team Doctor), Michael Lightner (Team USA-Wrestling Personal Coach), Tom Meadows (Team USA-Men’s Gymnastics Assistant), Bo Overton (Team China-Women’s Basketball Assistant), Mark Williams (Team USA-Men’s Gymnastics Personal Coach) and Keith Williams (Team USA-Women’s Wrestling Assistant).
The OU Alumni Office is ecstatic about all the Sooners participating in the Olympics. Talk about Sooner domination!

Live on, University!

July 27, 2012
by moak0801

London Calling All Sooners

Just when you think the University of Oklahoma couldn’t get any more awesome, five Sooners are in London right now to compete on the Men’s USA Olympic gymnastics team. We are so very proud of our boys!

Jon Horton, OU letter winner from Houston, attended OU from 2005 to 2008. London will mark Jon’s second Olympic appearance. During his time at OU, he was the 2008 Nissen Emery Award winner and a six-time NCAA individual champion.

Jake Dalton is currently a junior at OU via Reno, Nevada.  “I think it’s very special for our program,” Dalton said. “It says a lot about what we have accomplished here, thanks to amazing coaches, facilities and all the support. I am very honored to go over there (London) and represent Team USA and OU. It’s pretty amazing for all of us to be going. It’s going to be fun.”

Chris Brooks, a native of Houston, Texas, who attended OU from 2006 to 2009, is making his first Olympic appearance as an alternate. Brooks is an accomplished gymnast. When he competed for OU, his team won the 2006 and 2008 national titles and he was a seven-time All-American as well.

Steven Legendre, from Port Jefferson, New York, is another alternate and first-timer to the Olympics. Legendre was a student at our great university from 2008 to 2011 where he was the 2011 Nissen Emery Award winner and a 12-time All-American. He also helped his team win the 2008 National Championship and has six individual national titles.

Alex Naddour is the third alternate for the Olympic team and London is his Olympic debut as well. He is from Gilbert, Arizona and attended OU from 2010 to 2011. As a Sooner, he was a five-time All-American and the 2010 and 2011 National Champion on pommel horse.

Even OU’s very own Gymnastics Head Coach Mark Williams, who has coached all five gymnasts at Oklahoma, is in London for his fourth Olympic Games as a coach. Williams says, “I think it’s pretty incredible that we are talking about a select group of eight athletes and five of them are from the University of Oklahoma program. It’s an amazing accomplishment to have such representation. I am proud of these guys and the work they’ve put forth and to display it on the biggest stage in the world should be very exciting.”

We could not be any more excited for these fine young men and look forward to watching them lead our country to victory.

Visit SoonerSports.com for complete coverage of the Sooners in London and print/download the calendar here so you don’t miss any of the action!

We wish them luck and, of course, Boomer Sooner!

July 26, 2012
by catl7141
1 Comment

We’re Back!

Hello, Sooners!

Did you miss us? Don’t worry, the Alumni Association is back on the blogging wagon and we have no intentions of getting off. We are starting a weekly blog to keep you all updated on what’s going on in our office and with your fellow Sooners.

This week in the Alumni Association world, we’re all busy, getting ready for the fall. RSVPs for OU/Texas are pouring in, plans for our Boomer Bashes are coming along nicely, there are some exciting changes coming to Alumni College and the 2013 Sightseeing Sooners brochure is out!  If traveling the world with other OU alumni and friends sounds like your kind of thing, we’d be happy to get a brochure to you (click here and follow the form). We have tons of fabulous trips planned and spots are filling up quickly!

We are very excited about getting this little project going and have lots of good blogs planned. Of course, we would love to hear from you, too. If you have any ideas for a blog that you would like featured, just let us know! You can give us a call, shoot us an email or come by our office. We want to hear from you!

Live on, University!

May 14, 2012
by oualumni
1 Comment

Regents’ Alumni Awards and Commencement Scholars

Hello Sooner Country!  Hope you had a happy commencement day!  The Alumni Association spent Friday morning with President Boren celebrating some outstanding alumni in Beaird Lounge in the Oklahoma Memorial Union.

President Boren greets the crowd.

President Boren opened this prestigious awards ceremony and offered several comments related to the line “Live on, university” from our school chant.  “Institutions alone cannot live on themselves.  An institution is sustained by individuals.  And today we honor some remarkable individuals.”

JP Audas, Associate Vice President of the Alumni Association was up next and gave a brief overview of this award.  The Regents’ Alumni Awards are presented each year to honor alumni and friends for exceptional dedication and service to the University of Oklahoma.  The OU Board of Regents and the OU Alumni Association present the awards.

Nominations are accepted from alumni, friends and OU faculty and staff.  The names of each year’s recipients are engraved on a permanent plaque that hangs in Oklahoma Memorial Union as a testament to the important role that OU’s alumni play in the life of the university.  Below are this year’s recipients:

Marie Alley

Marie Alley, a native of Germany, is known locally for her support of OU and the arts. She has led the way for significant financial assistance for the students and programs of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, and has generously dedicated her time to such entities as the OU Theatre Guild, for which she created the annual scholarship fundraising tour to New York City and London; the Weitzenhoffer Family College’s Board of Visitors and Arts! Arts! Arts! Committee; the University Women’s Association; and the Norman Community Foundation. 
Under Marie’s leadership, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Association doubled its membership and revised its methods of gaining contributions. As a docent at the museum, she has promoted the arts to hundreds of visitors who have visited the collections. As a member of the museum’s Board of Visitors, she spearheaded efforts for an ongoing enrichment fund for students and faculty.
Throughout her more than three decades as a resident of Norman, Marie has made a lasting impact on the community. For her support of Norman, the state and the arts, she was honored with the 2011 Governor’s Arts Award for Community Service, as well as for her work with the Norman Firehouse Arts Center’s Chocolate Festival.
Ann Alspaugh
Ann Alspaugh, an Oklahoma native and civic leader, has dedicated her life to enriching both OU and the state of Oklahoma. An enthusiastic supporter of almost every college and program of study at the university, she has directly contributed to the excellence of the OU Foundation; Athletics; colleges of Medicine, Public Health and Allied Health; Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication; College of International Studies; College of Arts and Sciences; Oklahoma Center for Continuing Education; and administrative offices on both the Norman and OU Health Sciences Center campuses. 
Ann has served on the boards of the Allied Arts Foundation, Oklahoma Arts Institute, and National Council of the Aspen Music Festival and School, among many others. In the community, she has contributed to such organizations as the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum in Seminole; Habitat for Humanity; Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation; Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence; Oklahoma Educational Television Authority; Red Earth; International Women’s Forum; Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund; and the Oscar Jacobson Foundation. She is a founding member of the National Museum of the American Indian-Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C.
Ann has been honored countless times for civic service with honors and awards, including the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Distinguished Trustee Award; Oklahoma City Arts Council Mayor’s Award; Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the National Society of Fund Raising Executives; Women of the Year Award from the Red Lands Council of Girls Scouts; and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Oklahoma City University. She also is the recipient of the Governor’s Arts Award and the First Annual Grande Reverence Award from Ballet Oklahoma, and has been named as an Oklahoma Health Center Foundation Treasure for Tomorrow and a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
Alan Armstrong – ’85 Civil Engineering

Alan Armstrong in January 2011 became president and CEO of Williams, a 104-year-old, Tulsa-based company that today is a leading energy-infrastructure service provider in North America. Since joining the company in 1986, Alan has served in numerous leadership positions, including president of the company’s natural gas gathering, processing and olefins-production business.
A 1985 graduate of OU’s civil engineering program, Alan and his wife, Shelly, who earned a degree in communications from the OU College of Arts and Sciences in 1984, are energetic leaders in the OU College of Engineering. In support of the OU Water Technologies for Emerging Regions Center, he has served as an informal adviser and fundraising advocate, and has supported the College of Engineering Development Office by engaging potential benefactors and with the lead gift to privately fund a new development officer position. In the Tulsa area, Alan has worked diligently to promote the university and recruit National Merit Scholars to OU, as well as hosted fundraising events for the university in his home.
Alan serves as chairman of the College of Engineering Board of Visitors, and in that capacity has spearheaded support of the college through such initiatives as the founding of the Felgar Society. In his role at Williams and as a board member of the company’s charitable foundation, he has ensured that OU and other state educational institutions receive funds to recruit, retain and graduate the next generation of engineers and business leaders.
Alan is past president of the Gas Processors Association and a board member of the Natural Gas Supply Association and the American Petroleum Institute, and serves on the National Petroleum Council and Business Roundtable. Alan serves on the board of directors for Junior Achievement, USA. In the community, he is a board member and past board chairman of Junior Achievement of Oklahoma and is a member of the executive committee of the Tulsa Metro Chamber. He is a board member of Tulsa’s Future II Oversight Committee, the Williams Foundation, Teach for America – Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition. 
Jim Dicus – ’63 Business Finance
Jim Dicus, a 1963 graduate in business administration and finance, is the president of Dicus Supermarkets. During his years at OU, he was president of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, and currently serves as vice president of the OU Club of Ada. 
Jim’s passion for helping others and dedication to young people defines his life of service. In honor of his late son and daughter-in-law, Jim organizes an annual charity golf tournament, which raises more than $25,000 each year for such endeavors as the Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center and to help scholarship students from the Ada area attend OU, with funds matched each year by the university. 
Jim serves as vice president of the Ada Industrial Development Corp. He has served in numerous leadership positions in his community, including as president of the Ada Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club of Greater Ada, Ada Boys Club, Retail Grocers Association and Oklahoma Grocers Coupon Association. For 30 years, he has served on the board of the Valley View Hospital in Ada, including one term as chairman of the board.
Bill Hancock – ’72 Journalism

Bill Hancock graduated from the university in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Since that time, he has been an avid supporter of OU, especially in OU Athletics and the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. A member of the Gaylord College Board of Visitors, Bill has been a supporter of the college’s JayMac alumni association since its inception in 1983. 
After the tragic loss of their son in the 2001 plane crash that took the lives of 10 members of the Oklahoma State University men’s basketball team, Bill and his wife endowed a scholarship benefiting Gaylord College students pursuing careers in either the newspaper industry or sports public relations.
After three years in the university’s sports information office, Bill, a native of Hobart, followed in his father’s footsteps for a time as editor of his family’s newspaper, the Hobart Democrat-Chief. For more than a decade, he served on the staff of the Big Eight Conference, first as the media relations director and then as assistant commissioner in charge of championships and marketing. In 1989, he was tapped as the first full-time director of the NCAA Final Four. Named as an administrator of the Bowl Championship Series in 2005, he became executive director in 2009. He has served on the U.S. Olympic Committee staff at nine Olympic games and two Pan American Games, and in 2005, was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors Hall of Fame.
In Bill’s first book, Riding With the Blue Moth, he describes how he used a transcontinental bicycle journey to deal with grief after his son’s death. The book became one of the top-selling sports volumes after its publication in 2005. He also is the author of This One Day in Hobart, a chronology of his hometown. 
Che Miller, M.D. – ’98 Chemistry/Biochemistry, ’02 Medicine, ’07 Surgery
As an undergraduate who graduated with honors in chemistry and biochemistry before attending the OU College of Medicine, Che distinguished himself through his pioneering research in geochemistry and neurochemistry, as well as such honors as being named to the President’s Leadership Class and as a recipient of the Phillips Petroleum Chemistry Scholar Award, the Department of Chemistry Award and the Undergraduate Teaching Award. As a medical student, he was voted president of his class, Outstanding Medical Student and chair of the Oklahoma State Medical Association Student Section. During his time in the College of Medicine, he also was the recipient of the OU Leadership Award and Multicultural Service Award.
An exceptional alumnus who has been dedicated to the success of the College of Medicine and its students, Che was the first donor to commit $100,000 to the college’s Second Century Scholarship Campaign. He serves as a role model for current students and as an ambassador for OU, promoting the university both nationally and internationally. In addition to providing surgical services to the university’s trauma center, he has served as a member of OU’s Medical School Admissions Committee and as an adviser to the Graduate Medical Education Committee. 
Che has been honored numerous times for his research and expertise with such awards as the Aesculpian Award for most outstanding resident teacher at OU; the Lloyd and Ruth Rader Award for Resident of the Year; nomination for the Gilson/CMDA Award recognizing commitment and service to the global community; and appointment to the Gold Humanitarian Honor Society. A local and national leader in medicine, he was appointed to the American Medical Association Committee on Long-Range Planning and was asked to serve on the Oklahoma State Medical Association Foundation executive board. 
In addition to his professional activities, Che has earned a national and international reputation as a philanthropist who has dedicated his time and medical abilities to providing education and health care to seven nations on four continents. From ministry to mobile surgery operations, he devotes time each year to helping communities abroad. For his commitment to others, he has been recognized by leaders in such countries as the Philippines and Bosnia. 
Carolyn Clark Powers – ’96 Business Finance
A 1996 graduate in business administration, Carolyn Clark Powers is both a dedicated alumna and generous supporter of OU. The daughter of OU Regent Tom Clark, she made a $100,000 gift to the Department of Aviation in the OU College of Continuing Education in 2009 to endow the Tom Clark Scholarship.
Carolyn is known across the nation for her philanthropic endeavors, particularly in the arts. She currently serves as chair of the National Committee for the Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and was recently appointed to the board of the Grammy Awards.  She has served in numerous leadership positions on boards and committees for such organizations as the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Philharmonic and Colleagues of Children’s Institute; Aspen Art Museum; Aspen Santa Fe Ballet; Dockery Farms Foundation; DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center; Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz; and many more.
In addition to her leadership in the arts, Carolyn is a passionate advocate of causes that empower underprivileged children. She helped cultivate The Painted Turtle, a camp created by Paul Newman for children who are seriously ill, for which she serves as a board member and chair of its annual fundraiser. In addition, she has dedicated her time to extending arts education to low-income schools in Los Angeles and the rural South. Among her numerous personal accomplishments, she has run five marathons, including the Boston Marathon and scaled the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. 
Richard Trautman, M.D. – ’71 Medicine
Richard Trautman earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oklahoma State University before graduating from the OU College of Medicine in 1971. He spent years of service in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps, U.S. Navy Reserve and U.S. Air Force Reserve Medical Corps.
After serving his internship and residency at the OU Health Sciences Center, he joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1978. He now holds the Arnold and Bess Ungerman Endowed Chair in Psychiatry in the OU Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and is vice chair of general psychiatric services and the medical director for the Oklahoma Center for Alcohol and Drug-related Studies, an entity dedicated to preparing researchers and clinicians to address issues related to the acute and chronic effects of alcohol and drug abuse. Throughout his career in the OU College of Medicine, he has served as an adjunct professor of anesthesiology; vice chair for Adult Services and for Clinical Services; professor and director for Adult Outpatient Mental Health Services; and in numerous instructor positions.
Leon Unger, Ph. D.
Leon was recruited to the faculty in the OU College of Medicine in 1966. In the following four decades, he has revolutionized both the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (where he serves as David Ross Boyd Professor and Regents’ Professor) and the teaching of his field. Since joining the OU Health Sciences Center, he has designed, organized, coordinated and taught major portions of the Biochemistry and Medical Molecular Genetics course for first-year medical students. Because of his outstanding teaching skills, he has been ranked first in the medical student evaluations of the biochemistry teaching faculty in almost every one of those years.
In 1975, Leon designed, organized and implemented the first Biochemistry Review Course for Step I of the National Medical Licensure Exam for medical students, and in so doing, improved dramatically the performance of OU medical students on the biochemistry portion of the exam by an average of 96 points per student. He also was responsible for introducing concepts into the OU curriculum that are now widely practiced at medical schools throughout the nation, such as the conceptual relationship between biochemistry, medical genetics and medical nutrition; clinical correlations, in which physicians, patients, their families and teams of students interact to think creatively and solve problems; and biochemistry concept mapping as a tool for integrative thinking.
During his career, Leon has been honored with numerous teaching awards, including selection by medical students as the recipient of the Aesculapian Award for Teaching Excellence in the Basic Sciences in 1991, 2003 and 2008; the Stanton L. Young Master Teacher Award; the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching; and the College of Medicine’s Edgar W. Young Lifetime Achievement Award.
Reggie Whitten – ’77 Political Science, ’80 Juris Doctorate
The first member of his family to graduate college, Reggie graduated from OU in 1977 with a degree in political science and from the OU College of Law with a juris doctor in 1980. Since then, he has devoted significant time and resources in support of activities that benefit the university, its students and the greater community. As a member of OU’s Seed Sower Society honoring donors of $1 million or more, he is especially focused on programs that enhance the education, health and well-being of young people from all walks of life. Together with his partner, Michael Burrage, Reggie recently made a major gift to the OU College of Law to establish the David L. Boren and Molly Shi Boren Public Service Fellowship, which allows law students to pursue unpaid public interest work during the summer.
In memory of their son, Brandon, Reggie and his wife, Rachelle (along with brother-in-law Robert Newman), founded the Whitten-Newman Foundation. As part of its mission to enhance the lives of young people, the foundation partnered with the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History to create ExplorOlogy, a science education program that makes science education exciting and relevant to Oklahoma youth by engaging them in authentic science experiences. As a member of the museum’s Board of Visitors, Reggie and the foundation also made possible an exhibit highlighting the flora and fauna of Oklahoma’s Black Mesa area in the museum’s Noble Drilling Corporation Hall of Natural Wonders. 
Reggie is the co-founder of Pros for Africa, a nonprofit relief organization that has partnered with sports professionals, physicians and engineers to provide food, water, clothing and medicine to at-risk children in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. In cooperation with the OU College of Law, Pros for Africa has provided students in the International Human Rights Clinic the opportunity to travel to Africa to experience other cultures, develop a lifetime commitment to meaningful service and prepare for the increasingly global practice of law. In addition to his work with Pros for Africa, Reggie spends countless hours of his personal time sharing the story of his son’s addiction and tragic death with students and parents through another nonprofit organization he founded called F.A.T.E. (Fighting Addiction Through Education), warning of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse while providing resources for those who already suffer from addiction.
For his service to others, Reggie has been honored with the Jasmine Foundation Benefactor Award, the Journal Record Leadership in Law Award and the Jefferson Society Award from the Oklahoma Association for Justice.  
Robert Zinke – ’75 Business, Petroleum Land Management
After graduating from the Petroleum Land Management Program in the OU College of Business in 1975, Robert Zinke went on to found Zinke and Trumbo Inc., now known as Zenergy Inc., one of the most active exploration efforts in the oil and gas industry. His success led him to be featured in a Forbes magazine article titled “The New Breed of Wildcatters.”
Robert has been a member of the Price College Energy Management Board of Directors since its inception in 1996 and its president since 2003, and has been a member of the college’s Board of Advisors since 2004. His generous commitments to the college include a $1 million gift to fund a Chair for Energy Management and establishing an endowment to support the program and its director; the transformational role he plans to fill in the proposed people and program campaign for Price College, which includes a challenge grant to the Energy Management Program and a major gift to an energy expansion initiative in the college; service as a member of the Energy Management Program’s Capital Campaign Team; and service as chair of the Arthur B. Adams Society. In honor of his dedication to OU Energy Management, the program has been named the Robert M. Zinke Energy Management Program. In 2008, he received the Price College Distinguished Alumni Award.
Robert is an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Association of Petroleum Landmen; Tulsa Association of Petroleum Landmen; Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association; Independent Petroleum Association of America; Northern Alliance of Independent Producers; North Dakota Petroleum Council; and Natural Gas and Energy Association of Oklahoma.
Singing of the OU Chant after award presentations.
When the award presentations were over, everyone raised their right hand, first finger extended and sang the OU Chant.
2012 Regents’ Award Recipients and presenters.
Later Friday night at Commencement, our Commencement Scholars were recognized.  Commencement Scholar requirements are a 3.0+ GPA, Oklahoma resident, must be a working student, must be a student on the Norman campus and must attend Commencement.  Those who were selected to receive this scholarship receive $1500 to apply to their tuition for the fall of 2012.  These ten scholarship recipients were chosen from a pool of 160 applicants.  Winners are Jacintha Bachman (political science, senior), Julie Butler (petroleum engineering, senior), Amber Ely (social work, senior), Crystal Hines (finance, senior), Brian Jack(civil engineering, senior), Chase Magnuson (aviation, junior), Emily Siegrist (health and exercise science, junior), Travis Poole (civil engineering, graduate), Eric Ray (zoology, senior) and Skye Tylich (international studies, junior).

2012-2013 Commencement Scholars