Honorary Degree Recipients to be Honored at OU Commencement Friday, May 12
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NORMAN – Four outstanding individuals will join University of Oklahoma Commencement speaker Robert H. Henry, the president of Oklahoma City University and a distinguished legal and foreign relations scholar, in being awarded honorary degrees at OU’s 2017 Commencement Ceremony, scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, May 12, at The Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, 180 W. Brooks St.
In addition to Henry, the following will be awarded honorary degrees:
- M. Dewayne Andrews, M.D., Oklahoma City, who has served at the OU Health Sciences Center for almost 40 years, including serving as Executive Dean of the OU College of Medicine for almost 15 years and as Provost for the OU Health Sciences Center, improving health care in Oklahoma through research and teaching;
- Jalal J. Farzaneh, Norman, together with his brother, Mohammad Farzaneh, is the co-founder of Home Creations and has supported the creation of an academic major in Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies – establishing OU as one of the premier academic institutions for Iranian and Persian Gulf studies in the United States;
- Mohammad J. Farzaneh, Norman, OU alum and co-founder of Home Creations, who also serves his alma mater as a member of the board of visitors for the colleges of International Studies and Architecture and together with his brother, Jalal Farzaneh, has supported Iranian studies across the state of Oklahoma;
- and Nancy Lou Mergler, Ph.D., Norman, who has served the university for almost 40 years, has advanced enrollment in the honors programs, championed libraries as a vital academic resource for students and faculty, and strengthened admission standards for undergraduates while serving as Senior Vice President and Provost on the Norman campus for almost 20 years.
Dr. M. Dewayne Andrews retired from the University of Oklahoma in February after providing nearly 40 years of outstanding service and leadership to the OU Health Sciences Center, most recently served as vice president for health affairs and executive dean of the OU College of Medicine. His service also included four years as senior vice president and provost of the OU Health Sciences Center.
Andrews’ list of noteworthy accomplishments includes leading the university’s effort to expand research space for the Health Sciences Center, promoting a focus on inter-professional education and practice, and enlarging the impact of OU Medicine and the Health Sciences Center in the rapidly changing health care marketplace.
Under his faithful guidance and leadership, the Health Sciences Center made remarkable progress, including acquisition of the Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park to expand research space. In October 2016, a new, nine-story academic tower and its courtyard for the OU College of Medicine were named in his honor.
An academician of the highest order, Andrews – who during his time at OU also held the position of David Ross Boyd Professor of Medicine and held the Lawrence N. Upjohn Chair in Medicine – has received numerous teaching, leadership and medical awards, including the Aesculapian Award for Excellence in Teaching (twice), the Regents’ Award for Superior Professional and University Service and Public Outreach, and Outstanding Medicine Faculty Award. In addition, he was named Physician of the Year - Academic Medicine by the OU College of Medicine Alumni Association.
Iranian native Jalal Farzaneh has adopted Norman and the state of Oklahoma as his home. Together with his brother, Mohammad Farzaneh, he is co-founder of Home Creations, one of Oklahoma’s premier homebuilders. He and his brother started building homes in 1981, and in 1995 created Home Creations, a company dedicated to providing the best product in Oklahoma’s new home real estate market.
Farzaneh earned his Bachelor of Science in environmental design in 1981, followed in 1984 by his Master of Architecture degree. While a student at OU, Farzaneh was active with the Iranian student population; today, he continues that involvement as a mentor to Iranian and international students, ensuring that they have a positive experience at OU.
Through the Farzaneh Family Foundation, the brothers give back to the community, primarily focusing on education but also striving to help the community with basic human needs. The foundation recently presented the largest gift in OU’s history from those who came to the university as international students to the College of International Studies. The gift supports many programs, including a new Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies, establishing OU as one of the premier academic institutions for Iranian and Persian Gulf studies in the United States.
For his dedication and service to the university, Farzaneh was selected to receive the Regents’ Alumni Award, presented by the OU Board of Regents and OU Alumni Association. He also has been honored with The Journal Record’s Beacon Award and the Oklahoma City Humanitarian Award for Community and Justice.
Mohammad Farzaneh, an Iran native, moved to Oklahoma in 1978 with his brother, Jalal Farzaneh, to begin his studies at the University of Oklahoma. He earned his Bachelor of Science in environmental design in 1981 and his Master of Architecture degree in 1984. After earning his undergraduate degree, Farzaneh became a homebuilder, following in the footsteps of his father, a master builder. In 1995, Farzaneh joined his brother in co-founding Home Creations, one of Oklahoma’s premier homebuilders. The Farzaneh brothers together have built over 10,000 homes.
Drawing upon the success they have enjoyed in their careers as homebuilders, the Farzaneh brothers generously give back to the community that has supported them through the Farzaneh Family Foundation. While the foundation primarily focuses on education, it also has endeavored to help the community with basic human needs.
Through the foundation, the brothers recently presented to their alma mater the largest gift in the university’s history from those who came to OU as international students. Through their support to the College of International Studies many programs, including a new Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies was created that establishes OU as one of the country’s premier academic institutions for Iranian and Persian Gulf studies.
Farzaneh also continues to promote the rich history of Iran and its culture by serving as a mentor to current Iranian and international students at the university. He also serves his alma mater as a member of the board of visitors for the colleges of International Studies and Architecture. Among his many honors, Farzaneh has received the OU Regents’ Alumni Award, The Journal Record’s Beacon Award and the Oklahoma City Humanitarian Award for Community and Justice. Just recently announced, he is the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor presented each year on historic Ellis Island to honor those who embody the spirit of America in their celebration of patriotism, tolerance, brotherhood and diversity.
Nancy Lou Mergler joined the College of Arts and Sciences faculty in 1979 as an assistant professor of psychology, shortly thereafter achieving the ranks of associate and full professor. Though she resigned as University of Oklahoma Norman campus senior vice president and provost in 2014 to return to classroom teaching, OU students and faculty continue to enjoy numerous privileges and services that are the hallmark of her tenure. Mergler officially retired from the university in the fall of 2016.
In 1995, Mergler began what was to be an almost 20-year term as senior vice president and provost. As the campus’s chief academic officer, she was responsible for intellectual standards, institutional planning and budgeting, and the recruitment, retention and development of faculty and students as well as program development and review, academic policies and procedures, and enrollment management.
In addition to mentoring dozens of new deans and vice presidents during her time at OU, Mergler implemented a 10-year plan for increasing library resources, recruited and hired more than 80 faculty for endowed positions, added more than 50 faculty to the Norman campus, and strengthened admission standards for undergraduates.
She also guided the transition of a variety of programs to college status and mentored the first deans of these new colleges, including the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, and the College of International Studies, in addition to the Honors College.
Among her other accomplishments, Mergler oversaw the expansion of professional academic advisers to better assist students to make effective progress toward their degrees, helped advance a new electronic student record system and oversaw the creation of the Academic Integrity Council.
She also worked collaboratively with the Faculty Senate to implement a post-tenure review policy and oversaw the creation of the online system for tenure and promotion review.
Mergler was twice recognized by the OU Student Association for its Outstanding Administrator Award and was named Outstanding Freshman Advocate by The National Resource Center for the Freshman Year Experience in 1995. In October, Mergler was recognized at OU’s annual Ring Ceremony in honor of her longtime service to the university.
Further information on Commencement and a complete schedule of college convocations are available on the university’s Commencement website at www.ou.edu/commencement.
For additional information on Commencement, please contact the Graduation Office at (405) 325-0841 or visit www.ou.edu/commencement.