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OU to Recognize Two Individuals With Honorary Degrees; 2012 Honorary Degree Recipient to Serve as Commencement Speaker


OU to Recognize Two Individuals With Honorary Degrees; 2012 Honorary Degree Recipient to Serve as Commencement Speaker

April 24, 2023

NORMAN, OKLA. – The University of Oklahoma will award honorary degrees to two outstanding individuals in recognition of their extraordinary achievements and generous service to others.

Receiving honorary degrees are:

  • Major General Theresa C. Carter (USAF, Retired), DBA, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, the first female civil engineering officer promoted to brigadier general and to serve as the Air Force Civil Engineer, the career field’s highest-ranking officer
  • Ronnie K. Irani of Oklahoma City, an entrepreneur and a geoscience enthusiast whose 43 years in the energy industry led to many commercial developments in oil and gas.
Randall L. Stephenson

Randall L. Stephenson of Dallas, former chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc., steadfast supporter of educational causes and 2012 honorary degree recipient, will serve as the 2023 Commencement speaker.

Tom E. Love, a native of Oklahoma City and founder of Love’s Travel Stops, was also selected to receive an honorary degree; however, the university will honor him posthumously at a later date.

The university will confer the honorary degrees during its 2023 Commencement ceremony, scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, May 12, at The Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

“Each of this year’s honorary degree recipients has attained success in their own right, but what truly distinguishes them is their unwavering commitment to championing the next generation of leaders. We are incredibly proud to recognize their achievements and generous goodwill with our university’s highest honor,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “We’re also thrilled to welcome global telecommunications leader and OU graduate Randall Stephenson as our Commencement speaker who, like our honorary degree recipients, has remained steadfast in his dedication to OU and our students. As our graduates prepare for their next chapter, they will be inspired by how these individuals have directed their talents and energies to change the lives of others.”

Theresa C. Carter

Theresa C. Carter retired from the U.S. Air Force as a Major General after 31 years of service as a civil engineer officer and leader in installation management and organizational change. She was the first female civil engineering officer promoted to brigadier general and to serve as the Air Force Civil Engineer, the career field’s highest-ranking officer.

During her distinguished military career, Carter commanded a squadron, group, two wings and a center ranging in size from 400 to 8,000 personnel, and was the installation commander for Joint Base San Antonio, the largest joint base in the Department of Defense. As the Air Force Civil Engineer, she was responsible for organizing, training and equipping the 60,000-person civil engineer force and for planning, development, construction, maintenance, utilities and the environmental quality of Air Force bases worldwide.

Carter culminated her career by leading the Air Force’s largest and most complex reorganization since 1992, consolidating installation support activities at 10 intermediate commands and creating the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, where she served as its first commander. She currently works as an independent consultant, mentors current and future Airmen, and serves as a trustee at Purdue University.

Her honors include recognition from Purdue University as a Distinguished Engineering Alumna and Outstanding Industrial Engineer, and induction into Purdue’s ROTC Hall of Fame.

Carter holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Purdue, a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from National Defense University and a Doctorate inBusiness Administration from Drexel University. She is registered as a professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Ronnie K. Irani

Ronnie K. Irani is founder and CEO of RKI Energy Resources, LLC, a privately held energy company headquartered in Oklahoma City. He previously was president and CEO of RKI Exploration & Production, which he founded in 2005 and built into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise prior to its sale in 2015. He has over 43 years of experience in the energy industry, serving in senior executive-level positions in numerous public and private companies.

Irani has been actively engaged in nonprofit organizations and has given significant time and resources for the betterment of the community, including the University of Oklahoma. At OU, he is a past chairman and emeritus member of the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy’s Board of Visitors and is a past chairman of the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering Advisory Board. Irani is a loyal supporter of OU and works closely with the students at the Ronnie K. Irani Center for Energy Solutions in Mewbourne College and the Ronnie K. Irani Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth in the Price College of Business.

Outside of OU, Irani has served on numerous boards, including the OKC Boathouse Foundation, Oklahoma Energy Explorers, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. He also has served his profession with his service on the Committee for Sustaining Oklahoma’s Energy Resources, the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board and the Oklahoma Petroleum Alliance, formerly known as the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. He has held leadership roles on many of these boards.

Irani has received numerous higher education, professional and business awards, including the OU Regents’ Alumni Award and the Trailblazer Award from Mewbourne College for his lifetime achievements and contributions in the energy industry. His other honors include the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ Industry Service Award, Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association’s Member of the Year award and an honorary doctorate from Oklahoma City University.

Irani earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Bombay University, India, in 1977. He also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in petroleum engineering from the University of Oklahoma, as well as an MBA from Oklahoma City University. He has also completed the Executive Management Program offered by the Independent Petroleum Association of America in conjunction with Harvard University.

Randall L. Stephenson

Randall L. Stephenson is the former chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc., retiring in 2020. During his 13-year leadership tenure, AT&T became one of the world’s largest companies in the technology, media and telecom space.

With Stephenson at the helm, AT&T led the world in the deployment of high-speed wireless networks, launching the world’s first iPhone. He also led AT&T’s launch of HBO Max under the HBO umbrella, reaching over 60 million global customers at the end of his tenure.

In addition, Stephenson led AT&T’s $550 million signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, which drives innovation in education to promote student success in school and the workplace.

Stephenson is a loyal OU alumnus, having graduated in 1986 with a master’s degree in accounting, and serves as a valued leader for the Price College of Business. He helped to launch the college’s MBA Corporate Scholars program, which places business students in summer internship programs at AT&T and other companies. He also is generous in his willingness to share his knowledge and experience with OU students.

He and his wife, Lenise, are passionate about supporting education, particularly affordability and accessibility, social justice and racial equality. In honor of his retirement, AT&T launched the Stephenson Scholars program, which focuses on increasing representation and diversity in telecommunications and technology. The program provides underserved students at OU annual scholarships, mentoring, professional development and internships at AT&T, with a full-time job offer at the conclusion of the program.

In 2021, the Stephensons generously contributed to launch OU’s Transformative Tutoring Initiative, a program that provides select Oklahoma high school students with high-dosage math tutoring aimed at closing learning gaps.

A native of Moore, Oklahoma, Stephenson began his career with Southwestern Bell Telephone in 1982 in Oklahoma, and served in several executive roles, including chief financial officer and chief operations officer. He is a member of the Walmart Board of Directors and the PGA Tour Board of Directors.

In recognition of his successful career and history of giving back to OU and his home state, the University of Oklahoma presented him an honorary degree in 2012.

For more information on OU’s May graduation ceremonies, visit or email

About the University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit