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A publication of the University of Oklahoma Foundation
Sooner Shorts
News and events from around OU.

Champs x five!

Matthew Smith/OU Athletics

The OU women’s gymnastics team roared back from a huge deficit to win the NCAA Championship against opponents No. 2 Florida, No. 4 Utah and No. 7 Auburn on April 16. This marks the fifth national title for the Sooners—all under coach K.J. Kindler, who has led the program for 16 years. “I can’t say enough about how great this team was,” Kindler said at the post-meet press conference. “Fighters to the end, when it would’ve been easy to count themselves out.”

OU named one of Best U.S. Employers

OU ranks as the top employer in Oklahoma and among the top 50 nationwide in Forbes’ 2022 “America’s Best Large Employers” list. The university also placed 4th in a subcategory dedicated to education. The annual list is based on an independent survey of 60,000 U.S. employees across 25 industry sectors and considers every aspect of the employee experience in companies with more than 5,000 workers. “This achievement is a testament to the remarkable commitment and care of our faculty and staff, who work hard every day to make OU such a special place,” says President Joseph Harroz Jr.

Pat, I'll take a win

Carol Kaelson/Wheel of Fortune 2022 Califon Productions Inc. ARR

Watching “Wheel of Fortune” from childhood paid off in a big way for OU women and gender studies senior Joya-Dean Hemagin, who won $40,000 and trips to Spain and the British Isles during her March 22nd appearance on the classic TV game show. The Headington Hall resident adviser managed to keep her success a secret until the final moments of a watch party attended by friends and her mother, who drove up from Hemagin’s hometown of Grand Prairie, Texas, for the big reveal. Hemagin plans to save the cash prize for post-college life and is looking forward to her first travel outside the United States.

Creating connections

OU’s partnerships with tribal nations and Indigenous communities are strengthened with the appointment of Tana Fitzpatrick as associate vice president of tribal relations. Fitzpatrick assumes responsibility for developing, enhancing and sustaining collaborations and heads a strategic plan for OU’s Indigenous peoples initiatives. A member of the Crow Tribe of Montana and descendant of the Sioux, Ponca and Chickasaw, Fitzpatrick came to OU from the Library of Congress, where she served as a specialist in natural resources policy for the Congressional Research Service. She previously worked at the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Office of Management and Budget, and as a prosecutor and in-house counsel for tribal governments.

New Sooner Magazine editor 

After seven years as editor of Sooner Magazine—and an additional decade as associate editor—Lynette Lobban (center) is setting off on new adventures. Three generations of editors gathered for Lobban’s March retirement celebration, including Carol Burr (left) who led Sooner Magazine for a monumental 39 years, and incoming editor Anne Barajas Harp (right), who has served as associate editor since 2015.

Gaylord College named No. 2 program in the nation 

The Broadcast Education Association has recognized the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma as the No. 2 program in the country out of more than 300 member institutions nationwide. In four categories of individual media disciplines, OU landed in the top 10, including No. 1 in film and video programs, No. 3 in news programs, No. 4 in sports programs and No. 8 in scriptwriting programs.  

Welcome home, Baker

Joshua Gateley/OU Athletics

The Sooner Nation rolled out a celebration worthy of champions when 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, second from left, was honored by hundreds at the unveiling of his OU Heisman Park statue April 22 in the University of Oklahoma’s Everest Training Center. Fellow Heisman Trophy winners Sam Bradford, (2008), Kyler Murray (2018) and Jason White (2003) made the moment even sweeter by joining Mayfield on the stage.

A new chapter

Travis Caperton

The OU alumni family just got a whole lot bigger. On May 13, the University officially conferred more than 10,200 degrees during its 130th Commencement ceremony. “Tonight, one chapter ends and another begins,” President Joseph Harroz Jr. told those gathered together at the Lloyd Noble Center. “You move forward no longer as students, but as alumni with tremendous responsibility and boundless opportunities.” To see photos and highlights from Commencement 2022, click here.