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Remembering Dr. Tom Boyd, OU Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies for Over 40 Years

Remembering Dr. Tom Boyd,
OU Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies for Over 40 years

Picture of Sarkey's Energy Center.

Portrait of Dr. Boyd.

FEBRUARY 21, 2024

On February 13, 2024 Tom W. Boyd, Ph.D., 90, passed away in his home in Norman, Oklahoma after a lengthy illness. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, he moved to Oklahoma in 1956 to begin his undergraduate education at Bethany Nazarene College (now SNU). He completed his MA in Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma in 1962, after serving as a graduate assistant in that program. After a year at Yale University, Boyd graduated with his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Philosophy of Religion in 1973. He was granted an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 2013.


Tom taught in the Department of Philosophy for twenty-nine years, retiring from this position into a retired professor program at OU where he taught in the Religious Studies Program for eleven years before completing his teaching career at age 80. Then, he and his wife, Barbara, moved to Santa Fe, NM for retirement.

During his teaching career Tom received nine teaching awards, as well as the Oklahoma Award for Teaching Excellence in 1996. His writings, made up of articles and book chapters, focused on the interface between religion and culture. They include such pieces as : “Is Spirituality Possible without Religion?” “Is Humanism an Ideology?” “On Saving the Sacred Text…with a Nod to Derrida,” “Positive Thinking: Magic, Science or Religion,” “Is Rabbit Running with Jesus?” and “Christ of the Rising Sun: Japanese Christianity in the Fiction of Shusako Endo.”  In 2015 he published a book entitled, “Lusting for Infinity.”


Professor Boyd was a widely known speaker, lecturer and preacher around the country for over forty years. Many students have credited him with their success in their own careers and repeatedly report how he changed their lives with his provocative ideas and probing style of questioning.

Boyd served in various capacities around the campus of the University, though the position he most enjoyed were his years as Faculty Senate Chair.

Tom is survived by his wife, Rev. Barbara Boyd (from the Religious Studies Program), two children, Dr. Timothy Kyle Boyd, and Dr. Katrina Gay Boyd (Professor in Film Studies), two step-daughters, Heather Ford and Jennifer Pool, eight grandchildren, a brother and a close cousin.

A Memorial Service for Tom Boyd will be held March 23 at 10:00 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, Norman, OK. All are invited to attend.

Donations may be made to the OU Foundation, to the Tom W Boyd Scholarship in Philosophy, or the Tom W Boyd Scholarship in Religious Studies.