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OU to Recognize Four Individuals With Honorary Degrees

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Barbara Ann Posey Jones, Tom E. Love, David Proctor, and Toby Keith.

OU to Recognize Four Individuals With Honorary Degrees

April 22, 2024

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

Receiving honorary degrees are:

  • Barbara Ann Posey Jones, of Atlanta, Georgia, a distinguished educator, economist and activist whose participation in the Oklahoma City sit-ins helped in the desegregation of many public establishments across the country
  • Toby Keith, singer, songwriter, entertainer and successful businessman whose illustrious music career included more than 10 billion streams and 44 million albums sold and whose generosity enhanced the university and state of Oklahoma for decades, will be honored posthumously
  • Tom E. Love, founder of Love’s Travel Stops whose generous support helped strengthen OU’s academic excellence through his longtime support of the university and entrepreneurship initiatives in the Michael F. Price College of Business, will be honored posthumously
  • David Proctor, of Dallas, Texas, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient for his work on the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 spacecraft missions and whose many significant contributions helped create countless opportunities for students to pursue an education   

The university will confer honorary degrees during 2024 Commencement. Love and Jones will be honored during a ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, May 10. Keith and Proctor will be honored at a ceremony set for 9 a.m. Saturday, May 11. Both ceremonies will take place at Lloyd Noble Center.

“Through their exceptional talents, transformative leadership and unwavering commitment to serving others, each of this year’s Honorary Degree recipients has left an indelible mark on the world,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Their profound dedication has touched countless lives, and we take great pride in conferring the university’s highest honor upon them.”


Born in 1943, Barbara Ann Posey Jones attended racially segregated public schools in Oklahoma City, graduating with honors from Douglass High School in 1960. Alongside her family, Jones attended Fifth Street Baptist Church, where she met and developed a long association with educator and civil rights leader Clara Luper. Jones and her sister were founding members of the church’s NAACP Youth Council, established by Luper. As a youth council member, Jones took part in the Oklahoma City sit-ins that began in August 1958 at Katz Drug Store and ultimately led to the desegregation of major public eating establishments and other public places across the country.

During her time at OU, Jones was active in the Student Senate, Association of Women Students, Independent Student Association and International Students Association. She served as a residential assistant, was inducted into Mortar Board and selected as Outstanding Independent Woman. Jones earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, political science and mathematics from OU in 1963.

Barbara Ann Posey Jones.

Toby Keith, an award-winning singer, songwriter and entertainer, built an unparalleled career that included 10 billion streams, 100 million radio plays and 44 million albums sold. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Keith was inducted into the New York-based all-genre Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the BMI Icon award, and he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame shortly before his passing.

Through his Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic, launched in 2004, he helped raise a total of $18 million for nonprofits, including OK Kids Korral, a cost-free home for children and families seeking treatment for life-threatening illnesses. With his wife, Tricia, he was also a significant supporter of OU Athletics.

Keith died in February 2024, and his honorary degree is being granted posthumously.

Toby Keith.

Tom E. Love, the founder of Love’s Travel Stops, started the company in 1964 with his wife, Judy, beginning with one small location in western Oklahoma. Today, Love’s has more than 640 locations in 42 states, operations in Europe, and employs nearly 40,000 team members.

Tom and Judy Love and Love’s Travel Stops are longstanding partners of the University of Oklahoma. In 2018, the university announced a leadership gift from the Tom and Judy Love Foundation in support of the entrepreneurship initiatives in the Price College of Business. In recognition of his visionary leadership and generosity, OU named the Division of Entrepreneurship, Innovation Hub, Center for Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurs in Residence Program in his honor. In October 2021, OU announced a lead naming gift from Love’s Travel Stops, which put in motion the construction of OU’s new softball stadium, Love’s Field, which opened in March 2024.

Love died in March 2023 in Oklahoma City, and his honorary degree is being granted posthumously.

Tom E. Love.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from OU, David Proctor pursued graduate studies at Stanford University. He went on to have an outstanding career in aerospace and computer industries, including serving in a number of executive positions at IBM. He coded the lunar descent maneuvers for the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions, and he and his team earned the President’s Medal of Freedom for ensuring the safe return of the Apollo 13 astronauts.

David and his wife Judi are longtime supporters of the University of Oklahoma. Their contributions include numerous student scholarships, including scholarship endowments in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences and the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, which were created in memory of their sons, David Michael Proctor and Matthew David Proctor, both of whom passed away as young adults. The David and Judi Proctor Department of Mathematics was named in their honor in recognition of a $7 million irrevocable contribution in 2022.

David Proctor.

For more information on OU’s May graduation ceremonies, visit ou.edu/commencement or email commencement@ou.edu.

About the University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. As the state’s flagship university, OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. OU was named the state’s highest-ranking university in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent Best Colleges list. For more information about the university, visit ou.edu.


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