The Norman Transcript

April 16, 2013

OU to give honorary degrees

Transcript Staff
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Four individuals will join University of Oklahoma Commencement speaker Fareed Zakaria, one of the nation’s leading critical thinkers, in receiving honorary degrees at OU’s 2013 Commencement Ceremony, scheduled for 7 p.m. May 10 at The Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, 180 W. Brooks St.

In addition to Zakaria, the following will be awarded honorary degrees:

· Tom W. Boyd, professor of philosophy at OU

· Susan E. Brackett, D.D.S., M.S., Oklahoma City, prosthodontist and philanthropist

· Jan Marie Crawford, Denver, civic leader and supporter of higher education, promoted a sense of community at OU as director of Union Activities at the Oklahoma Memorial Union in the 1960s

· The Honorable Ralph G. Thompson, Oklahoma City, a leader in the federal judiciary

Boyd, David Ross Boyd Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and professor of religious studies at OU, retired this semester after teaching at OU for more than 40 years. He taught philosophy at the university for 29 years, concentrating on the philosophy of religion, ethics and value theory.

Before initially retiring in 1997, Boyd served as Kingfisher chair of the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics. In 2002, he was talked out of retirement by President David L. Boren and enlisted for service in the new religious studies program. Boyd most recently taught as part of the retired professor program and served as a consultant to the program.

Boyd’s current concentration is on the interplay of religions in a global context, the problem of religious pluralism and the relation between culture and religion.

Brackett graduated from the OU College of Dentistry in 1978, its third graduating class.

For 20 years, Brackett devoted her career to academics, including 16 years as a faculty member at the OU College of Dentistry. She maintains a part-time private practice limited to prosthodontics in Oklahoma City.

In 2009, Brackett was presented with the Regents’ Alumni Award. She serves on the board of visitors of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts and the Board of Trustees of the J. Dean Robertson Society of the College of Dentistry.

Brackett and her husband have been supporters of the OU School of Dance for several years. They have contributed to multiple programs including the Enrichment Fund, the Indian Ballerina Scholarship Fund and the Ballet Russe Archives. They established a Distinguished Visiting Artist Chair in 2005.

As director of Union Activities at OU in the 1960s, Crawford enhanced and nurtured countless students’ learning through campus activities at home and abroad. She led a student group on a 15-country tour of Europe that included the first OU student trip to Russia. She also oversaw University Scandals productions as well as other university-sponsored concerts.

Crawford was one of the first students to study higher education administration at OU, earning her master’s degree in that field in 1960.

For her support of the University College Student Learning Center, a room was named in her and her husband’s honor in 2009 in the Lissa and Cy Wagner Hall.

Thompson was appointed U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma in 1975 at age 40, making him one of the youngest federal judges in the nation. During his 32 years as a federal judge, he presided over a variety of civil and criminal cases, some with national implications. As chief judge of the court, the Western District Court was recognized nationally as one of the most efficient federal courts in the nation.

An Oklahoma City native, Thompson is the grandson of Dr. William Bennett Bizzell, OU’s fifth president. Thompson graduated from OU with a degree in business administration in 1956 and a law degree in 1961. He served two terms, from 1966 to 1970, in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He served 27 years in the U.S. Air Force, active and reserve.      

Thompson was elected president of the U.S. District Judges Association of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and named the 10th Circuit’s district judge representative to the Judicial Conference of the United States.

From its 27 members, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist selected him as one of seven members of the conference’s executive committee, the policymaking arm of the federal judiciary. Rehnquist also appointed him as one of seven federal judges of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Thompson assumed senior status in 1999 and retired in August 2007. Upon retirement from the court, he was appointed as a commissioner of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.

Thompson is the recipient of numerous honors, including the OU Regents’ Alumni Award, OU’s Distinguished Service Award and the Journal Record’s Award for Distinguished Service.

He has served as president of the OU Dads’ Association, chairman of the Academic Affairs Committee of OU’s Centennial and as a founding and current member of OU’s Bizzell Library Society. He also serves on the boards of visitors of the OU Honors College and the OU College of Law.

A 34-year member of the OU President’s Associates, he sponsors two academic scholarships for OU students — the endowed Lee B. Thompson Sr. Law Scholarship and a College of Law Second Century Scholarship. He taught trial advocacy at Harvard Law School for 27 years and was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1995.

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