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OCU to award honorary degrees to business executive, television star

Oklahoma City University will celebrate a pair of distinguished alumni this weekend with the conferral of honorary doctorate degrees at the university’s commencement ceremonies.

Honorary degrees will be awarded Saturday to business executive and entrepreneur Ronnie K. Irani, and Broadway and television star Ron Raines.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ronnie and Ron back to campus this weekend,” OCU President Martha Burger said. “Their many accomplishments in the business and entertainment industries are a shining example our graduates can strive to emulate. They are truly deserving of this recognition.”

Ronnie Irani
Ronnie Irani

Irani, a 1990 graduate of OCU’s Meinders School of Business MBA program, will be recognized as an honorary doctor of Energy Economics. Irani is a successful entrepreneur and the president and CEO of RKI Energy Resources. He has amassed 40 years of leadership experience in the oil and natural gas industry, including executive positions at several prominent energy companies.

Irani has served on numerous boards, including the board of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, the India-U.S. Chamber of Commerce of Greater Oklahoma City, the U.S. Department of Energy Industry Oil Review Panel and the Sarkeys Energy Center. In 2018, he was inducted into OCU’s Oklahoma Commerce & Industry Hall of Fame, and has given his time, experience, and resources to help students through the university’s Ronnie K. Irani Data Analytics Center.

“I am deeply appreciative of this honor,” Irani said. “I look back fondly at my time at the Meinders School of Business, and it is inspiring to see each new wave of entrepreneurs and business leaders graduate just as I did and begin their journey.”

Ron Raines
Ron Raines

Raines, who earned his bachelor’s degree in music from OCU in 1975, will be recognized as an honorary doctor of Musical Arts.

Raines is a world-renowned actor of stage and screen, and in 2012 was nominated for both a Tony and Grammy award. He was nominated three times for the Emmy Award for his role in the television show “Guiding Light,” and has appeared in prominent prime-time television series like “The Good Wife,” Elementary,” and “Person of Interest.”

Since studying at OCU, he has starred in numerous Broadway productions, including “Annie,” “Newsies,” and “Chicago,” and has performed as a soloist with more than 60 major American and international orchestras.

“What a thrill it is to come back to campus and to receive this honor,” Raines said. “My career has taken me all over the world – thanks to the foundation I received at Oklahoma City University. I can’t wait to see the next generation of OCU music and theatre graduates find their place in the spotlight.”

The honorary degrees will be awarded Saturday during OCU’s on-campus commencement ceremonies. In addition to the in-person conferral of degrees, Irani and Raines will be recognized in a video tribute shown to all graduates.

More information about commencement at OCU can be found at www.okcu.edu/commencement.