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Five Outstanding Individuals to Receive Honorary Degrees at OU Commencement

Honorary Degrees

jc/4- xx-11


CONTACT: OU Public Affairs, (405) 325-1701

NORMAN — Four outstanding individuals will join University of Oklahoma Commencement speaker U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates in being awarded honorary degrees at OU’s 2011 Commencement Ceremony, scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, May 13, at The Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, 180 W. Brooks St.

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

·      Timothy Clare Headington, community leader and supporter of humanitarian efforts worldwide, and president of Headington Oil Co., Dallas

· George Henderson, educational leader and noted civil rights scholar, Norman, Okla.

· Clifford Hudson, civic leader and supporter of education, chairman of the board and CEO of Sonic Corp., Oklahoma City

· and the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, theologian and president of Union Theological Seminary, New York, N.Y.  

Gates was sworn in as the 22nd Secretary of Defense on Dec. 18, 2006. He is the only Secretary of Defense in U.S. history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected president. President Barack Obama is the eighth president Secretary Gates has served.  He joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional prior to assuming his current position. During that period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council and the White House, serving four presidents of both political parties.

Under Presidents Bush and Obama, Secretary Gates has been tasked with winding down the war in Iraq and curbing the surging violence in Afghanistan, helping to draft America’s response to the dramatic changes in the Middle East and with implementing the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military.

Headington is co-founder of the nonprofit Headington Institute, headquartered in Pasadena, Calif., the mission of which is to care for caregivers worldwide by determining the best ways to promote the physical hardiness, emotional resilience and spiritual validity of humanitarian relief and development personnel. In addition to providing free online training materials, its team of psychologists travels to places including Japan, Haiti, Afghanistan, Pakistan, South America and throughout Africa to provide counseling, resilience training and management consultation.

Headington is president and sole shareholder of the Dallas-headquartered Headington Resources Inc., one of the premier independent exploration and production operators in south Texas. Active throughout the major oil and natural gas basins in the continental United States, the company also has interests in real estate and hotel development, film production, private equity and entertainment. He also serves on the board of directors of the Mike Modano Foundation, an organization that raises funds to improve the quality of life for underserved and at-risk youth in the Dallas area, and is a major supporter of The Heroes Foundation, which provides programs for opportunities for disadvantaged youth to participate in a select baseball program.

Headington earned his bachelor of arts degree in history from OU, where he was a member of the tennis team.  After graduating from OU, Headington went on to earn graduate degrees in theology and psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. He completed his internship at Los Angeles County Hospital. He continues to be an active supporter of his alma mater, serving on the athletic director’s Executive Advisory Council. He was honored in 2005 with the OU Regents’ Alumni Award.

Henderson is committed to education and leadership in matters related to tolerance and human relations.  He has worked tirelessly to foster human rights and has served as a mentor to numerous students at OU, where he has served as a distinguished member of the faculty. At OU, Henderson is widely recognized for his guidance in developing OU’s liberal studies and human relations programs.  In 1967, he became the first African-American professor in the state to occupy an endowed chair when he was appointed Sylvan N. Goldman Professor of Human Relations at OU. He also was the first African-American dean on the Norman campus, serving the OU College of Liberal Studies in that capacity from January 1996 to July 2000.  At the culmination of his service as dean, Henderson returned to the Department of Human Relations as director of Advanced Studies Programs for the Master of Human Relations degree.

During his nearly 40-year tenure at OU, he has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.  The Henderson Scholars Program and the Henderson-Tolson Cultural Center on the Norman campus bear his name.  A popular speaker and prolific writer, he is the author of 50 articles and 33 books, including Cultural Diversity in the Workplace (1994); Our Souls to Keep: Black/White Relations in America (1999); Psychosocial Aspects of Disability (2004); and Race and the University:  A Memoir (2010), the last of which received the Outstanding Book on Oklahoma History Award in 2010.

Henderson holds a master’s degree in sociology and a doctorate in educational sociology from Wayne State University in Detroit.

An advocate for quality education in Oklahoma, Hudson along with his wife, Leslie Hudson, established a chair in history and a graduate fellowship to assist students entering the doctoral program in history at OU. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for OU’s K-20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal. From 2001 to 2008, he served as chairman of the Oklahoma City School Board, a position created as part of a $530 million turn-around of a 40,000-student, inner-city Oklahoma City Public School System. He was co-chair of “MAPS for Kids,” the largest fundraising initiative in the Oklahoma City school district’s history.

A trustee of the Ford Foundation, Hudson is chairman of the board of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is affiliated with many nonprofit and community organizations. 

Hudson attended OU on a Phi Beta Kappa scholarship and was a member of the 1973 OU President’s Leadership Class. He earned his history degree in 1977, and later earned his law degree from Georgetown University. Hudson has served on the OU College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors, which awarded him a Distinguished Alumni Award.  He also is the recipient of an OU Regents’ Alumni Award.

Hudson has spent the past 27 years of his career at Sonic Corp, an Oklahoma City-based, publicly held company that owns, operates and franchises SONIC Drive-In restaurants. He is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the company, which has 3,500 franchised and company-operated drive-in restaurants. 

Hudson is a recipient of the Governor’s Arts Award and was inducted into the Hall of Honor of Industry and Commerce.  In 2009, he was inducted into the Wall of Fame for the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation. 

Through her leadership and service to the global religious community, Jones encourages religious communities to assume a key role in addressing societal challenges.

She is a prolific and popular scholar in the fields of theology, religion, globalization and gender studies. Her most recent book, Trauma and Grace: Theology in a Ruptured World, explores the devastating social and personal effects of violence on the human psyche and the role of religious communities, both negative and positive, in healing wounds.  Her book, Feminist Theory and Christian Theology, is a standard textbook in feminist theology.

As the 16th president of the historic Union Theological Seminary, Jones is the first woman to head the 174-year-old nondenominational seminary, which is located in Manhattan and neighbors with Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminar.

She came to Union after 17 years at Yale University, where she was the Titus Street Professor of Theology at the Divinity School, and chair of women, gender and sexuality studies in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She was co-principal investigator on the “Women, Religion and Globalization Grant” for the Henry T. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs at Yale.

Jones holds degrees from the University of Oklahoma, Yale Divinity School and Yale University. She is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ.

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