Outstanding OU Alumni and Supporters Recognized with Regents’ Alumni Award
NORMAN, OKLA. – The University of Oklahoma recognized the 2023 Regents’ Alumni Award recipients during a ceremony on Sept. 29 on the OU Norman campus. Regents’ Alumni Award honorees are chosen for their extraordinary dedication and service to the university. Three of this years awardees have ties to the College of Law.
Presented by the OU Board of Regents and OU Alumni Association, the award celebrates the profound way OU alumni and supporters shape the university’s vibrant future. A committee formed by the Alumni Association reviews nominations submitted by alumni, friends and OU faculty and staff to select each year’s awardees. The recipients receive a commemorative plaque in recognition of their exceptional contributions, and their names are permanently inscribed on a plaque displayed in the historic Oklahoma Memorial Union.
This year’s recipients include John T. Argo, Monica Basu, Jarrod Calhoun, Michael S. Cookson, M.D., Chuck and Mary Ellen Doyle, Martha Ferretti, Frank Hill, Kirk Alan Jones, Louis Don Smitherman and Bruce Wilkinson. Hill, Smitherman and Wilkinson were all recognized for their dedication to the College of Law
Frank Hill is a veteran real estate and business attorney with McAfee & Taft in Oklahoma City, where he has played critical behind-the-scenes roles in many of Oklahoma City’s highest profile projects and attractions, including the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Oklahoma City’s National Basketball Association franchise, Devon Tower, 21c Hotel and First National Center.
A native Oklahoman, Hill launched a lifetime of championing OU while still working toward his bachelor’s degree in accounting. He served as president and director of the Bizzell Library Society and as outside general counsel for many years to the University of Oklahoma Foundation.
Hill was instrumental in establishing the Kenneth E. McAfee Chair in Law at the OU College of Law with an innovative matching funds component that was generated by lawyers and clients of the firm. He also helped establish endowed scholarships and program funds at the university for his father (Orval “Ike” Hill), Galand Kramer, Reid Robison, Shannon Self and others.
Hill and his wife, Bette Jo Hill, have been President’s Associates since 1986, as well as Sooner Heritage Scholarship donors and supporters of OU’s Athletics Department.
After graduating from law school at the University of Texas at Austin, Hill served as a captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and earned a Master of Laws degree in taxation from George Washington University before moving his family to Fort Sill and then entering private practice in Oklahoma City. He joined McAfee & Taft in 1970 and has been an integral part of the firm for more than 50 years.
Hill’s achievements as a lawyer have earned him election into the prestigious American College of Real Estate Lawyers, as well as perennial recognition in leading industry publications, including Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, The Best Lawyers in America and Oklahoma Super Lawyers.
In 2015, Hill was honored with the prestigious Dean A. McGee Award by Downtown Oklahoma City, Inc. for his pivotal role in helping build (and rebuild) downtown Oklahoma City’s cultural and economic foundations.
LOUIS DON SMITHERMAN
While a student at OU, Louis Don Smitherman played both football and baseball. As a senior tailback for the Sooner football team, Smitherman had the opportunity to play both offense and defense in his final game against Kansas State. He was a part of the 1985 national championship football team.
As a fully engaged student at OU, Smitherman was a football letterman and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, the Varsity O Association, the OU Black Society and the Black Law Students Association. He continues to champion his alma mater as an OU Foundation trustee and supporter of many areas of the university, including the Henderson Scholars program, OU Athletics, OU College of Law, National OU Black Alumni Norris G. Williams Endowed Scholarship program and Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
Throughout his career, Smitherman’s service and support for his community, the university and the state of Oklahoma include service as staff attorney for Congressman J.C. Watts and as Oklahoma Merit Protection Commissioner. He is a recipient of the Alma Wilson Award from the Oklahoma Bar Association for his significant contributions to improving the lives of Oklahoma children through his work in the legal studies program at Douglass High School. He currently serves on the board of the Oklahoma Association on Problem Gambling and Gaming.
Smitherman and his wife, Carla Dier Smitherman, a graduate of OU, contribute to several university initiatives, including scholarships and programs that support students.
Bruce Wilkinson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree through the Arts and Sciences Planned Program in 1966, and a Juris Doctorate in 1969 from the OU College of Law. He went on to earn a Master of Laws degree from the University of London in 1970.
During his career, Wilkinson has served as CEO for several New York Stock Exchange companies and worked with numerous international trade companies.
Wilkinson has been a driving force in connecting the College of Law, OU Athletics and the Price College of Business to present a unique speakers’ series, educational workshop and internship program coalescing around investment and securities fraud. Along with his wife, Susanne Wilkinson, Wilkinson established the Wilkinson Family Speaker Series in the College of Law.
He works to connect the university with national experts and nonprofit advocacy groups to endorse the vision of offering a cross-campus, multi-college and community-oriented approach to identify and avoid investment dangers; represent clients who have suffered them; and establish advocacy and policy work on both fronts.
Additionally, the Wilkinsons support scholarships for graduate and international students studying architecture at the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture.
At OU, Wilkinson serves on the Board of Visitors for the College of Law and is a former member of the Board of Visitors for the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture.
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