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Business school secures gift to expand data analytics center

Longtime Oklahoma City University benefactor and alumnus Ronnie K. Irani has pledged a $2 million gift to the university to expand the data analytics center that bears his name.

The gift will allow for the expansion of opportunities in the Ronnie K. Irani Center for Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence in OCU’s Meinders School of Business. The agreement will fund the hiring of a clinical faculty member dedicated to the center, increase promotional efforts to drive community and corporate engagement, and boost the number of data analytics and AI seminars at the school, among other enhancements.

“We are deeply grateful to Ronnie Irani for his continued generosity and unwavering commitment to Oklahoma City University,” OCU President Kenneth Evans said. “With his latest donation, the Ronnie K. Irani Center for Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence will allow our students to gain even more valuable knowledge and experience in these cutting-edge fields.”

Under the agreement, Irani will contribute $200,000 per year over the next 10 years to reach the $2 million total. It adds to a previous gift that helped establish the Ronnie K. Irani Center for Data Analytics in 2017.

Irani, president and CEO of RKI Energy Resources, said there’s societal value in promoting data analytics and he sees an increasing importance in the research and use of artificial intelligence.

“Data analytics has been central to the core of my business operations, and I hope to help future business leaders realize its importance by taking their ideas and transforming them into production,” Irani said. “I firmly believe that data analytics and artificial intelligence are vital tools that can shape the future of business and beyond. By investing in these areas, we can foster innovation and drive progress for the betterment of our city and state for generations to come.”

OCU Business Dean Sri Beldona said the faculty, staff and students of the Meinders School of Business will all benefit from Irani’s donation.

“This visionary investment will help shape the future of our Ronnie K. Irani Center for Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence and the business school, and contribute to the development of tomorrow’s leaders,” Beldona said. “We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Mr. Irani.”

Irani earned his MBA from OCU in 1990; was inducted into the university’s Oklahoma Commerce and Industry Hall of Honor in 2018; and in 2021 was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university. He also taught organizational behavior as an adjunct professor in the mid-’90s. He founded the oil and gas exploration company RKI Exploration & Production and built it organically into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise, then sold it and started RKI Energy Resources.

The Meinders School of Business recently added data analytics and financial analytics concentrations to its MBA degree offerings and offers Master of Science degrees in data analytics and financial analytics. For more information about business programs at OCU, go to okcu.edu/business.

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