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OU Regents’ Alumni Awards Presented to 10 Outstanding Individuals

OU Regents’ Alumni Awards Presented to 10 Outstanding Individuals

October 20, 2021

Ten exceptional University of Oklahoma alumni and friends have been honored with Regents’ Alumni Awards in recognition of their dedication and service to OU. The awards were presented to this year’s honorees in an Oct. 15 ceremony on the OU Norman campus.

Presented by the OU Board of Regents and the OU Alumni Association, the Regents’ Alumni Award honors the important roles of OU alumni and supporters to the life of the university. A committee formed by the Alumni Association selects the award recipients from nominations made by alumni, friends, and OU faculty and staff. Recipients each receive a plaque, and their names are engraved on a permanent plaque in Oklahoma Memorial Union.

This year’s Regents’ Alumni Award recipients are:

  • Carl B. Anderson III, Phoenix, Arizona, and San Diego, California
  • Phillip S. Estes, Carson City, Nevada, and San Francisco, California
  • Barbara A. P. Jones, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Steve Owens, Norman
  • Dr. William Paiva, Tulsa
  • Pam Pierce, Houston, Texas
  • Rod Sanders, Dallas, Texas
  • Jeanne Hoffman Smith, Oklahoma City
  • Helen Ford Sanger Wallace, Oklahoma City
  • Ashley Zumwalt-Forbes, Fort Worth, Texas – recognized as a Young Alum Honoree

Carl B. Anderson III

Anderson is a businessman who worked in the energy industry through his company, AnSon Partners. He graduated from OU with a business administration degree in 1980. As an alumnus of the Michael F. Price College of Business whose involvement with his alma mater has included service as an OU Foundation trustee; he and his wife, Claire, have made multiple gifts through the OU Foundation to multiple areas of the university, including Athletics, Fine Arts and OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center. He is also a member of the Seed Sower Society, which honors donors whose gifts to the university total $1 million or more.

A longtime supporter and friend of the OU Men’s Golf Team, he was a Hole #4 donor to the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club renovation campaign and is a consistent supporter of the Sooners at the Desert Golf Event held in Palm Springs, California, as well as other golf events, as part of their ongoing support for the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.

Carl and Claire Anderson provided a gift to establish the Carl B. Anderson, Jr. All-American Plaza in honor of Carl’s father as part of the Barry Switzer Center at the Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. They also made a gift to establish the Carl and Claire Anderson Middle Linebacker Endowed Scholarship Fund for the football program.

Anderson is an Endowed Associates donor and a “Commitment of Fifty” donor as part of the endowment campaign for the Holmberg Hall fine arts renovation project. He also provided funding for the establishment of the Mai Eager Anderson Endowed Chair in Cancer Clinical Trials in honor of his mother. He was one of the early foundational donors to the future Stephenson Cancer Center when this endowed chair gift was made.


Phillip S. Estes

Estes grew up in Oklahoma and is a third-generation Sooner. He earned his bachelor of science degree in geology with distinction from OU in 1981 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. While attending OU, he was recognized with the Letzeiser Gold Medal, was a member of PE-ET Honor Society and Mortar Board national honor society, and was named a Big Man on Campus. He was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and has since enjoyed many years of fellowship with his brothers and friends from the Greek system. Estes was twice elected to student government and was a frequent volunteer at OU.

His proudest OU achievement may have been finishing in third place (out of a field of three) in the heavyweight division in the OU Arm Wrestling Championships during his senior year.  

After graduation, Estes completed coursework for a master of science degree in petroleum geology at Stanford University in 1983 and earned an MBA from Harvard University in 1985.

His entire commercial career has been in the finance and investment field – first as an investment banker in New York and California for four years, and then in the private equity business with his firm, Horizon Holdings, LLC, which he and his business partner founded in 1989.

Estes enjoyed a second concurrent career in the nonprofit field while serving as a board chair/member and operating adviser to many nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly those focused on helping at-risk youth and formerly incarcerated adults. In 2011, he received the Jefferson Award for Public Service, one of America’s top honors for public service.

Estes serves on the Price College Dean’s Board of Advisors and the MBA Advisory Board. He and his wife, Nancy, are members of the Arthur B. Adams Society and generously support OU Giving Day and the Sooner Club. The couple are President’s Associates, for which he has served as president. He is an active mentor and adviser to current and former undergraduate and graduate students, and he enjoys hosting recruiting events for prospective students and cultivation events for alumni on the West Coast.

The couple has endowed Estes Family Scholarships in the Price College of Business, the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education and the Athletics Department.

In 2015, Estes received the Distinguished Partner Award from Price College of Business.

Estes holds a U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s License, and in his spare time he is the drummer for an aspiring rock band.  


Barbara A. P. Jones

Jones’ start in the U.S. civil rights movement was launched at the early age of 15: in 1958, at the lunch counter of Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City.

Inspired to help end racism by Clara Luper, then sponsor of the Oklahoma City chapter of the NAACP Youth Council, Jones recalled how she and other youngsters took the seats of customers as they exited the lunch counter until none were left. When the servers said, “We cannot serve you,” she said, “the youngsters responded, as planned, with a disciplined, ‘Thank you; we will wait.’” They won the battle – three days later.

The youth group organized similar demonstrations at Woolworth, the John A. Brown Department Store and, eventually, all the city’s eating establishments. Their numbers grew to more than 200, and the sit-ins stretched for more than a year as the students returned to school but spent Saturdays dedicated to the protests. These sit-ins attracted national and local press attention, and Jones served as the group’s spokesperson.

After graduating from Oklahoma City’s Douglass High School in 1960, Jones enrolled at OU, where she continued her leadership pursuits and activism. In addition to participating in protests at Norman business establishments, she served as a resident adviser in the dorms, was active in the OU NAACP student group and was the only Black student serving in the OU Student Senate.

Jones graduated from OU in three years with an integrated degree in math, economics and political science, and was a member of Mortar Board. Among the honors she received was the prestigious Outstanding Independent Student Award.

While pursuing a master’s degree in economics at the University of Illinois (and completing a thesis on Union Locals and the Underutilization of Black Workers), Jones embarked on a life of service and community uplift with a focus on educating and empowering young people and improving economic conditions for Black Americans.

She served for decades in a variety of faculty, chair and dean capacities at several institutions of higher education, including Clark College; Prairie View A&M University; Texas Southern University; Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria; Georgia State University; and Alabama A&M University.


Steve Owens

If you follow Sooner football, chances are you know the name Steve Owens. Owens attended OU from 1966 to 1969, where he became one of the most successful student-athletes to wear the crimson and cream uniform. Known as “OU’s workhorse,” he left his mark on the OU record book as Oklahoma’s all-time leading scorer with 57 touchdowns; holds the record for the most carriers in a game (55) and career (958); and finished his career with 4,041 yards on the ground, the third most in school history.

He was selected to the All Big 8 Conference team in 1967-69; received Big 8 Player of the Year honors; was a Consensus All American in 1968 and 1969; and was selected by his teammates as co-captain of the 1969 Sooners. During his final season as a Sooner, he was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year and received college football’s most prestigious honor, the Heisman Trophy, becoming the second Oklahoma Sooner to win the Heisman.

Owens carried on his collegiate athletics success to the professional realms. He was drafted as the 19th pick in the 1970 NFL draft to the Detroit Lions and proceeded to become the first running back in the history of the franchise to gain over 1,000 yards in a season. He was also an All-Pro selection. After six years with Detroit, Owens retired in 1975 with a serious knee injury.

After retiring, both his collegiate and professional achievements were well-recognized in the sports industry. Owens was inducted into the Orange Bowl Hall of Honor in 1992 and in 2005 was recognized with the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame’s Tradition of Excellence Award, which annually recognizes a Heisman recipient who has distinguished himself in his chosen career and brought honor and distinction to the Heisman Award program. More recently, in 2006, he was honored with the unveiling of his Heisman statue in OU’s Heisman Park outside of The Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

In 1991, Owens was elected to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. He was also named the Walter Camp Foundation Alumni of the Year, bestowed on an individual who has distinguished himself in the pursuit of excellence as an athlete, in his personal career and in doing good works for others.

Owens is CEO of Steve Owens Associates and Steve Owens Insurance Group, which offers insurance and service-related products. He keeps strong ties to OU and served as athletics director from 1996-98. He is a founding member of the Norman Public School Foundation and Miami (Oklahoma) Public School Foundation.

He has been a spokesman for the Ronald McDonald House and has given his time to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Child Welfare Citizens Advisory Board, the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Football Foundation, and the Advisory Board for the Norman Family YMCA. He also serves on the selection committees for the Doak Walker and the Danny Wuerffel Awards.

Owens has been a devoted member of OU Athletics’ Sooner Club for over 30 years and is a Champions Society member, which represents the top 10% of the club’s membership. His annual and capital donations help ensure OU’s tradition of excellence continues for future generations and supports current student-athletes’ experience.

Owens also is a supporter of OU Athletics’ Booster Clubs for baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s golf and wrestling, and he is active in OU’s Varsity O Association, an organization built for student-athletes to become lifetime members of the OU Athletics family.

Owens also has provided financial support to other university initiatives, including Fine Arts, OU Libraries and the Alumni Association.


Dr. William Paiva

Paiva earned his a bachelor of arts degree in microbiology in 1987, master of science in microbiology and immunology in 1990, and doctoral degree in microbiology in 1994, all from OU.

He is the managing partner of the Oklahoma Life Science Fund, which invests in promising life science and health care initiatives where standalone businesses and management teams are realized. He also serves as the executive director at the Center for Health Systems Innovation; the center, located in Tulsa, is transforming rural and Native American health through the implementation of innovative care delivery and information technology solutions.

Paiva and his wife, Amy, provide support across many areas of OU, including the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences, Michael F. Price College of Business, Ronnie K. Irani Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth, Athletics and the Alumni Association. Paiva has specifically supported the College of Arts and Sciences through service and scholarship contributions to the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology and as a member of the department’s Board of Advisors.

He also previously served on advisory boards at OU-Tulsa. He is well-connected to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tulsa and is a passionate advocate for OU statewide.


Pam Pierce

Pierce has over 40 years of broad energy industry experience and knowledge. She joined the Scientific Drilling International Board of Directors in 2011. Currently, she serves as the CEO, having moved into the interim CEO role in May 2020.  

Pierce started her career with ARCO in 1977 as an offshore drilling engineer and progressed through various positions of increasing responsibility. She led the Offshore Business Unit when ARCO formed Vastar Resources as its lower 48 exploration and production company. Later, she led Vastar’s Business Development function responsible for mergers and acquisitions. Since 2007, she has been a partner in Ztown Investments focused on domestic oil and gas non-operating working interests.

Pierce currently is a member of Laredo Petroleum’s Board of Directors, where she serves on the compensation and governance committees. She is also on the Board of Directors of Shawcor, a Canadian oilfield services company, where she is chair of the Compensation and Organizational Development Committee.

A member of OU’s Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy Trailblazer Society and Board of Visitors, Pierce also served on the Board of Visitors for the Mewbourne College of Engineering and the Advisory Board of the School of Civil Engineering. She is passionate about supporting students and that is reflected in her scholarship endowment. In addition to this, Pierce’s  impact is further reaching as she uses her position and resources to help students secure career placement opportunities in a highly competitive field.

Pierce is one of a few women who have made their way to the Mewbourne College Board of Visitors. She provides the Dean and board with a unique and invaluable perspective from a largely male dominated industry. As one of only a few women in the 1970’s to have graduated with a degree in Petroleum Engineering, Pierce generously shares her expertise, and she tirelessly provides countless hours of student support as a mentor.

Her advice to those following in her footsteps has always been, “The first key to success is to find a mentor who will challenge you.” Her second piece of advice is, “Irrespective of gender, if you are willing to go into a situation with an open mind, to learn and ask questions, to roll up your sleeves and demonstrate your willingness to work alongside everyone else, you will succeed.”

Pierce earned her bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering from OU and an MBA in corporate finance from the University of Dallas.


Rod Sanders

Sanders grew up in Sulphur, Oklahoma, and graduated from OU in 1964 with a bachelor of arts in letters. Upon earning his juris doctorate from the University of Texas, he practiced law in New York City for the next 10 years. He returned to Dallas in 1985 and started Highland Homes, where he currently serves as president.

Sanders is a member of the OU President’s Associates and Seed Sower Society. Thanks to his generous support of the Native American Studies Program, OU has become a premier center for Native American research and teaching. His gifts helped OU launch the OU Native Peoples Initiative, which places the cultures of Native peoples and the sovereignty of Native Nations at the center of academic study across all three OU campuses.  

As a citizen of the Creek Nation, Sanders is a dedicated supporter of Native American students. In 2013, he established the Horizon Scholarship in support of rural Native American students who wish to attend OU but need financial assistance to make their dreams a reality. To date, approximately 60 scholarships have been awarded to Native American students. In large part because of his support, OU currently ranks first in master’s and doctoral degrees awarded to Native American students in comparison to all public, four-year universities in the nation, and is first among the number of enrolled Native American graduate students.

Sanders also has provided significant support to OU’s annual Teach-In, the Summer Institute for Oklahoma Teachers, and the Rod and Nancy Sanders Endowed Chair in Law and Liberty in the Institute for American Constitutional Heritage.


Jeanne Hoffman Smith

Hoffman Smith became a staff member at the Central Oklahoma Community Mental Health Center in 1977 and in the same year opened a private practice in clinical social work, which she continues to this day.

For her efforts supporting mental health causes, she was bestowed the Distinguished Service Award in 2001 from the Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 from the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. In 2011, she was selected as the Treasures for Tomorrow Honoree of the Oklahoma Heath Center Foundation.

At OU, Hoffman Smith endowed a professorship in film in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences that helped establish a film degree program that brings in independent directors from around the world.

Her current community board involvement includes serving as an Oklahoma City University trustee, as a member of the OCU Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature advisory board, and as an Inasmuch Foundation advisory committee member. She is a life board member of the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma County, an Oklahoma Arts Institute board member emeritus and Oklahoma City Museum of Art trustee emeritus. She volunteers with the poor and homeless each week through a church outreach program in Oklahoma City.

For these activities, Hoffman Smith was awarded the Governor’s Arts Award from the Oklahoma Arts Council in 1999 and the OKC Public School Foundation Humanitarian Award in 2000 and was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society in 2014. The OU College of Arts and Sciences honored her with its Distinguished Service Award in 2006; in 2008, she was presented with the Film and Video Studies’ Society Distinguished Service Award.

Additionally, Hoffman Smith is a World Literature Today advisory board member and founding retired member of the Honors College Board of Visitors (2007-2015).

In 1997, Hoffman Smith established the Jeanne H. Smith Professorship of Film and Video Studies at OU. Countless students have benefited from Smith’s gifts funding scholarships, travel and capital improvements, while her hands-on service on boards, committees and other programs has helped to elevate the community, state and university.


Helen Ford Sanger Wallace

A native Oklahoman, Wallace is a graduate of U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City. She graduated from OU in 1962 with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. As an OU student, she wrote for The Oklahoma Daily, was yearbook features editor from 1960-62, and was named Miss “J” Journalism School Queen in 1962.

She was a member of Theta Sigma Phi journalism fraternity, served as Gamma Alpha Chi Advertising Club president, and was pledge class president and recruitment chairman for Delta Delta Delta sorority, serving as rush adviser through the years.

Wallace served on the Student Judicial Advisory Board and is a past president of the OU Mom’s Club and the Delta Delta Delta Mother’s Club. She was a member of the OU Associates Council Board and the Bizzell Library Society dinner committee for 12 years, and she also served on the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History fundraising council. She is an OU Sooner Club member.

An endowed scholarship for OU journalism students in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, funded by longtime friends and associates, was established in her name in 2021. The rotunda in Gaylord Hall is named the “Helen” Rotunda in her honor.

Now retired, Wallace was a columnist for The Oklahoman for over 60 years. During her notable journalism career, she also worked for Gannett Media, The Daily Oklahoman and The Oklahoma City Times. She launched her career in 1957 as a U.S. Grant High School correspondent for the Times.

Over the years, Wallace wrote garden columns, feature articles and party news. She wrote the social column “Sunday Morning,” was a co-founder of the 20-40-60 etiquette column that started in 2009 and continues today, and hosted party-related webcasts called Parties Extra! for The Oklahoman’s digital edition. She also wrote a Parties Extra! blog and was web editor for the online Life Section. She conceived and launched Shopping the Metro advertising column, which won a national award.

Wallace was one of the first, if not the first, writer at The Oklahoman to set up a modem at home to send in her columns. Her computer only typed in capital letters but transmitted them via telephone in lowercase; special coding was required to show capital letters for all the names she included in her column.

Some of her past community activities include service as president and secretary of the Junior League, Link Magazine chairman and sustaining advisor to the board of directors twice, and member of the community advisory board, four years; Beaux Arts Ball chairman and co-chairman, seating chairman and public relations chairman; Red Earth Festival, Public Schools Foundation Dinner Committee member, and Symphony Show House public relations chairman.

She is the recipient of numerous journalism awards and honors, including induction into the Journalism Hall of Fame and selection as Delta Delta Delta Panhellenic Woman of the Year; the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation Annual Wall of Fame Humanitarian Award; Women in Communications Byliners Award; Dulaney Browne Libraries Award from Oklahoma City University; and Oklahoma Hospitality Club Ladies in the New honoree.


Ashley Zumwalt-Forbes, Young Alum Honoree

While a student at OU, Zumwalt-Forbes was an active and engaged student. She interned with the Center for the Creation Economic Wealth and was active in the Campus Activities Council, Crimson Club, Student Government Association, Soonerthon and Howdy Week. She was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Letzeiser Award; Outstanding Freshman, Sophomore and Junior; and selection to PE-ET Honor Society.

Zumwalt-Forbes graduated summa cum laude from OU in 2012 with a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering and also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

An engineer with nine years’ experience in acquiring, financing and developing both greenfield and brownfield natural resources projects around the globe, Zumwalt-Forbes currently serves as a director, co-founder and president of Black Mountain Metals, a private battery metals mining company; Black Mountain Exploration, a private natural gas company; and Black Mountain CarbonLock, a private carbon negative company.

She also serves on the Strategic Advisory Board for Hennessy Capital’s fifth SPAC (NASDAQ: HCICU), the Female Venture Fund, Texas Christian University’s Energy Institute, Polestar (Volvo’s EV brand) and the School of Petroleum Engineering in the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy. Prior to joining Black Mountain in 2017, Zumwalt-Forbes worked in several lead engineering roles at ExxonMobil and XTO Energy, managing drilling, completions and planning aspects of international shale exploration, laying the groundwork for a $1 billion capital deployment. She was recently highlighted as the featured honoree on the 2020 Forbes 30 under 30 in Energy list.

Zumwalt-Forbes was recognized in 2020 as a Young Engineering Alumni, Pursuit of Excellence Class Member. This class shines a light on young alumni who are actively pursuing excellence and using their time, talent and treasure to pay it forward at OU and in their communities. This class uses their platform to model to other young alumni how to be engaged and find their voice. She is also a member of the Trailblazer Society and OU President’s Associates.

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