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Distinguished Alumni - 2006

George W. Counts

George W. Counts, retired professor of medicine, graduated from OU with a bachelor of science degree in bacteriology in 1957 and master of science degree in bacteriology in 1960. Throughout his career, Counts has received numerous honors and awards, most recently including the 2006 American Society for Microbiology Founders Distinguished Service Award. In 1985, after training in internal medicine and infectious diseases, Counts became a professor of medicine at the University of Washington. Later, he served at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. In 2002, he became senior adviser on special populations in the HIV Vaccine Trials Network at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where he retired in 2004.

David Hall

David Hall, law professor at Northeastern University who specializes in constitutional law and racism, contracts and legal ethics, received his master of arts in human relations and juris doctorate degrees from OU in 1975 and 1978. Hall served as an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission’s regional office in Chicago before entering academia as a professor of law at the universities of Mississippi and Oklahoma, and acting as associate dean, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Northeastern University School of Law. He lectures nationally and writes on issues of social justice, diversity, affirmative action, and equal justice and educational transformation. Of his many honors and awards, in 2003, Hall was appointed by President Bush to serve on the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corp.

Clara Sue Kidwell

Clara Sue Kidwell, professor of history and director of Native American Studies at OU, received her bachelor of arts degree in letters in 1962, and her master of arts and doctoral degrees in history of science in 1966 and 1970, all from OU. Over the past 10 years, Kidwell has overseen the growth and development of the Native American Studies program in the College of Arts and Sciences. She has helped raise the program to a nationally recognized level and is an authority on native systems of knowledge and on the history of the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi. Before joining the faculty in 1995, Kidwell held appointments at the Kansas City Art Institute, Haskell Indian Junior College, University of Minnesota, Dartmouth College, University of California-Berkeley and the Smithsonian Institute, where she was associate director of cultural resources at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Gary D. Sandefur

Gary D. Sandefur, dean of the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has led a distinguished career in academics for nearly 30 years. He received his bachelor of arts degree in sociology from OU in 1974 and became an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology in 1978. Soon after being promoted to associate professor in 1984 he left for a position at the University of Wisconsin, where he has held positions as director of the American Indian Studies Program; chair of the Department of Sociology; provost, associate vice chancellor and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs; and most recently, dean of the College of Letters and Science. Sandefur has published four books and over 50 research articles, funded by numerous national agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Human Services.

Jeanne Hoffman Smith

Jeanne Hoffman Smith, Oklahoma City social worker, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Oklahoma City University and graduate degrees from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, and the Colorado Center for Psychoanalytic Studies. From 1977 to 1981, Smith worked at the Central Oklahoma Mental Health Center, before going into private practice in clinical social work. Smith has contributed generously to OU and the College of Arts and Sciences by funding an endowment for the film program and establishing the biennial, $40,000 Creativity in Motion Thatcher Hoffman Smith prize, which rewards individuals in the process of developing creative ideas. Smith has served on numerous boards, including the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma State Film Commission, World Literature Today, Presbyterian Health Foundation Grants Committee and the Inasmuch Foundation.

Jon R. Withrow

Jon R. Withrow, owner of Sundance Oil Co. in Oklahoma City, graduated from OU with his bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering in 1954 and master of science degree in geological engineering in 1963. Withrow worked with Humble Oil Co., Montgomery Oil Co. and Sarkeys Inc. before establishing Sundance Oil in 1968. Withrow is an active contributor to the OU community. From 2004-2005, he served as chair of the alumni advisory council in the School of Geology and Geophysics, and in 1999, he funded a scholarship endowment that established the Jon R. Withrow Arts and Sciences Scholarship in the College of Arts and Sciences. This scholarship, given annually to up to five undergraduate students, provides a minimum of $1,200 in funding for the academic year. Last year, four students received this scholarship, benefiting from Withrow’s generous support of the college.