The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

May 11, 2009

Hamm to receive honorary degrees

Harold Hamm looks out from his office and adjoining Continental Resources boardroom atop the converted Youngblood Hotel in downtown Enid. He points out the Garfield County Courthouse, a nearby baseball field, railroad tracks and other city landmarks.

“We’re really kind of a Norman Rockwell kind of town,” says Hamm, Continental’s founder, CEO and chairman of the board. He’s as recognizable here as a Rockwell painting, having ridden the ups and downs of the oil business here for more than 40 years.  

Before he began his successful career as an oil wildcatter from Enid, Hamm called Cleveland County home. Born in a small farmhouse five miles north of Lexington, Hamm often missed school to help pick cotton. He traveled to Texas following the harvest with his family. At age 5, their house burned down and they moved into town.

“When I was a little kid, we sometimes didn’t start school until Christmas or the first freeze, whichever came first,” he said. “It was hard to catch up.”

He’ll do some catching up Friday night on the stage of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. OU will award honorary degrees to Hamm, former ambassador Edward Perkins, historian David McCullough and Tulsa business and civic leader Walter H. Helmerich III. 

Hamm and his wife, Sue Ann, are founding donors of Oklahoma Diabetes Center on the OU Health Sciences Center campus. He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and sought the best doctors for treatment.

“It just kind of struck a note with me. When that happened, I wanted to get to the best doctors and facilities and get instructions but really there wasn’t one. It is such a terrible disease and there was not the kind of research being done that will find a cure.”

At the same time, OU President David Boren had the vision of a world-class diabetes center on the HSC campus. Research breakthroughs will come in an academic setting, Hamm believes.

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