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OU Alumni News & Milestones

If you have news, an award or honor, life event or obituary to share, please email Bill Moakley, Director of Alumni Communications,

Mary Jo Heath Named Radio Voice of metropolitan opera


Mary Jo (Renner) Heath ('75, '81) has been named the fourth full-time radio host of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Heath holds a bacherlor's degree in music education and a masters degree in music theory from the University of Oklahoma

Heath, who was a senior producer of the radio broadcasts for nine seasons, succeeds Margaret Juntwait, who died in June after holding the post for more than a decade. Many opera fans will already be familiar with Ms. Heath’s voice: she announced most of last season’s broadcasts after Ms. Juntwait’s illness kept her from the broadcast booth.

Her father, the late Dr. John W. Renner, was a member of the faculty in the OU College of Education from 1962-1988.

Please click here to read more from The New York Times.


OU College of Law Graduate Named Foundation Treasurer


Thompson & Knight LLP recently announced Partner Jolisa Melton Dobbs (‘95, ‘95, ‘00) has been nominated Treasurer of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (“RMMLF”) for 2015-2016.

Ms. Dobbs earned her bachelors and master’s degrees in accountancy in 1995, as well as her juris doctorate in 2000.

She is an oil and gas partner in the firm’s Dallas office. She is an experienced oil and gas attorney who concentrates on acquisition and disposition transactions throughout all oil and gas plays – including the Eagle Ford, Barnett, Haynesville, and Marcellus.

Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Dobbs served as an internal auditor for Exxon. Her accounting accomplishments include previous certification as a certified public accountant. Continuing that emphasis from accounting, she focused on oil and gas during law school at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, including serving as the research assistant to professor Owen L. Anderson, a leading oil and gas professors. Her academic success and dedication to the field led to Ms. Dobbs receiving the prestigious RMMLF Joe Rudd Scholarship.

Her extensive oil and gas background combined with more than 15 years of legal practice gives Ms. Dobbs an edge in assessing, understanding, and allocating various risks associated with oil and gas properties.

She is consistently recognized for her skills in a diverse range of oil, gas, and energy matters. Ms. Dobbs was recently selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters (2013-2014), Who's Who Legal: Energy by Law Business Research Limited (2014, 2015), and as a Recommended Attorney by The Legal 500 US by Legalese (2015). In addition, she is a frequent lecturer at conferences and seminars, and publisher of articles in prestigious industry journals, on oil and gas related topics.

Ms. Dobbs is a active member of RMMLF having served on and chaired the RMMLF scholarship committee, and served as a trustee and executive committee member. RMMLF is a collaborative, educational, non-profit organization dedicated to the scholarly and practical study of the law and regulations relating to mining, oil and gas, water, public lands, energy,

environmental protection, and other related areas. Through its educational programs, RMMLF brings together lawyers, landmen, managers, government personnel, law faculty, students, and others involved in minerals, oil and gas, water, and other resources.  For more information, visit

Akande Named President of Westminster College


Benjamin Ola. Akande, Ph.D, (’84, ’90, ’95) has been named the 21st president of the 164-year-old Westminster College in Fulton, MO.

He will take office July 1, succeeding Dr. George B. Forsythe, president since 2008, who is retiring after 10 years at Westminster.

“We’re proud to introduce Dr. Akande as president of Westminster College,” said Wallace L. Head, chairman of the Westminster Board of Trustees. “We’ve achieved our year-long goal of finding the most qualified person to lead Westminster and to continue executing our strategic plan.

“It includes developing leaders for a global community by establishing one of the country’s most internationally diverse colleges, and maintaining a graduate placement rate that exceeds 95 percent,” he added.

Dr. Akande, a Nigerian-born American citizen, serves as a professor of economics and Dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University in St. Louis. He also leads Webster’s global Office of Corporate Partnerships.

Raised in Nigeria, Dr. Akande came to the U.S. to attend Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, TX, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma, and completed his post-doctoral studies at Harvard and Oxford.

Head said Dr. Akande was selected for his academic and administrative qualifications and because “he’s a results-oriented leader with strategic vision and proven experience in the areas of global strategy, marketing, and leadership.”

Akande said he proudly accepts this new challenge and looks forward to continuing Westminster’s mission.

“Westminster offers a distinctive destination for undergraduate education focused on student achievement and diversity, which are critically important,” he said. “We must prepare graduates to live and work in a world that is far more diverse and richer in new opportunities than ever before.”

Dr. Akande also recognized Webster University’s administration and faculty for the support and opportunity they provided the past 15 years.

Westminster College is the nation’s eighth-highest ranked small liberal arts college for percentage of international students. Westminster’s nearly 1,000 students are from 28 U.S. states and 76 countries worldwide.


Bailey Honored as NSU Outstanding Young Alumnus


Kelly Bailey (’01), Ph.D, CEO of Sweet Adelines International, has been honored as the recipient of Northeastern State University’s 2015 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award.

Bailey is a 1997 graduate of NSU where she received her bachelor degree in human resource development. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in human relations and organizational dynamics, and her doctoral degree from Walden University in higher education and adult learning.

As the CEO of Sweet Adelines International, Bailey oversees an organization of 23,000 female members across five continents as it advances the musical art form of barbershop a cappella harmony through education, competition and performance. She is a former vice president at Oral Roberts University. Her many responsibilities include managing a worldwide staff and volunteers, creating and implementing the organization’s short- and long-term vision, forming and enacting best practices, establishing a culture of efficiency and effectiveness, and acting as a direct liaison between the board of directors and staff.

“I am honored to be selected for this prestigious award and to represent the Young Alumni of Northeastern State University,” Bailey said. “The education I received here has been fundamental to my success and leadership in the nonprofit sector. I am humbled to have the opportunity to bring awareness to the stellar academic community that is NSU.”

Each year, the Alumni Association Board of Directors selects the honoree for Outstanding Young Alumnus who is honored at the Homecoming and Emerald Ball. The award is presented annually to an NSU alumnus/alumna who, through personal achievement and service, has brought honor and distinction to both himself/herself and the University. First awarded in 2000, Outstanding Young Alumnus has the distinction of having graduated from NSU in the past 20 years.


If you have news, an award or honor, life event or obituary to share, please email Bill Moakley, Director of Alumni Communications,

If you have a life event to share with us, please email Bill Moakley, Director of Alumni Communications,

Marlynn Hamilton Butler ('59)

Marlynn Hamilton Butler (‘59), 77, of Wimberley, Texas, passed away June 25, 2015 after a brief illness. Mrs. Butler earned a bachelor’s degree in speech therapy from the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of Delta Gamma sorority.

She was born on July 26, 1937 in Houston to Lynn Boyd Hamilton, Jr. and Margaret Dwyer Hamilton. After graduating from Lamar High School in Houston, she attended OU, where she met her husband of 57 years, Gordon F. Butler, Jr. After graduation and a wedding, the couple moved to Houston to allow Mr. Butler to pursue graduate school, then to Corpus Christi where they raised their three children - Gordon F. Butler, III, Lynn Hamilton Butler and Mary Margaret Butler.

In 1982, the family was transferred to Wadsworth, Ohio. In 1988, they moved to Clear Lake, Texas for the remainder of Gordon's professional career, and in 2000, they moved to Wimberley, where they have enjoyed their retirement, friends and family.

Mrs. Butler is survived by her husband, Gordon; children, Gordon, Lynn and Mary; daughters-in-law, Susan (Gordon) and Missy (Lynn); son-in-law Jeff; five grandchildren, Brandon and his wife Ashley; Tara and her husband Alex; Becca, Lauren and Beau; and four great-grandchildren Landon, Adelyn, Raelyn and Kynlee.

A memorial celebration of Mrs. Butler’s life was held July 7, 2015 at Wimberley Presbyterian Church.


Robert Lee (Bob) Wyatt III ('63, '88, '90)

Robert Lee (Bob) Wyatt, III, Ph.D., ('63, '88, '90), passed away August 7, 2015. He was 75. 

Wyatt earned his bacherlor's degree in English and master's and doctoral degrees in elementary education, all from the University of Oklahoma. He retired as a full professor at East Central University in Ada, where he was honored as teacher of the year for three of his 16 years there.  

The balance of his 45 years in Education was spent in public schools in Iowa Park, Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Grandfield, Oklahoma; and in higher education classrooms at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces; Tarrant County Junior College, Fort Worth, Texas; Vernon Regional Junior College, Vernon, Texas; University of Oklahoma.