Bales co-founded the NGO Free the Slaves in 2000 after going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders. The results of this research became his book, Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The story eventually made its way on screen in the film Slavery: A Global Investigation, which won a Peabody Award and two Emmys.
Bales received his bachelor’s degree at OU in social anthropology in 1974, his master’s degrees at the University of Mississippi and the London School of Economics, and his doctoral degree from the London School of Economics. He has shared his academic knowledge as a professor of sociology in Roehampton University London, Richard and Ann Pozen Visiting Professor in Human Rights at the University of Chicago and professor of contemporary slavery and deputy director of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom. Currently, Bales serves as a professor of contemporary slavery in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham.
Riggs is a partner in the law firm of Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison, and Lewis Inc. Her areas of specialty include civil litigation, mediation, medical malpractice, personal injury and product liability law. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political sciences and her master’s degree in sociology from OU before heading to Washington, D.C., where she earned her juris doctorate from Georgetown Law Center. After practicing for many years in the D.C. area, Riggs moved home to Tulsa in 1996.
Riggs was named one of Oklahoma’s Super Lawyers and a Top 25 Women Attorneys in Oklahoma. She serves on the boards of many groups, including the Sand Springs Board of Education, Oklahoma Nature Conservancy Advisory Board, Sutton Avian Research Center Volunteer Committee, American Heritage Bank Advisory Board, Land Legacy Governing and Advisory Board, and Sandite Team for Animal Rescue.
Williams is a board-certified maternal-fetal medicine specialist. Maternal-fetal medicine specialists are obstetricians who completed additional training in the diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care of complicated pregnancies. He completed a fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine at The Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, where he also completed his obstetrics-gynecology residency. He earned his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from Oklahoma State College of Osteopathic Medicine, Tulsa, and his undergraduate degree in zoology from OU. He graduated from Douglas High School.
Williams served in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Medical Corps, and earned the Bronze Star Medal in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom V. He is a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a member of the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine and the American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine.
Founded in 1948 by Ward S. Merrick Sr., the Merrick Foundation serves the State of Oklahoma with its emphasis on research, education and health. The foundation supports initiatives across the state that have a positive impact on the lives of all Oklahomans and have proven of vital importance to our most disadvantaged citizens. Among the foundation’s many major accomplishments is the establishment of the Ardmore YWCA Breast Cancer Screening Program, which helps ensure that all women in the Ardmore area have access to cancer screening regardless of their ability to pay for the service. The Merrick Foundation has supported a diverse range of initiatives at OU, including athletics, student affairs, the Merrick Computer Center, the first computer in Oklahoma and the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History. The foundation also supports two endowed chairs: the Elizabeth Merrick Coe Chair in Breast Health at the OU Health Sciences Center, and the Ward Merrick Chair in Western American History, the first endowed chair on the Norman campus. Because of this exemplary service to the state and to the university, the College of Arts and Sciences is proud to honor the Merrick Foundation with its 2018 Distinguished Service Award.
Reneau is a familiar face to the college. In 2011, she was profiled in the college’s magazine while she earned her bachelor’s degree in communication before commuting to Harvard University for her master’s degree in international relations. The mother of 11 – nine girls and two boys – and co-founder of Victory Gymnastics in Norman, also graduated from the NASA-sponsored 2014 International Space University in Montreal and interned at the Naval War College, FAA Commercial Spaceflight Office and NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. In her spare time, she studied piano at the Julliard Center.