The Story of Freedom in America

Winter 2013

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The lectures of the late Rufus Fears are part of the on-line lecture series offered by the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage.

The lectures of the late Rufus Fears are part of the on-line lecture series offered by the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage.

The lectures of the late University of Oklahoma professor Dr. Rufus Fears will continue to have an impact on OU students and scholars worldwide, thanks to the generosity of donors and the World Wide Web.

Since 2009, the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage has helped OU students understand the basic tenets of the Constitution, its history and what it means to live in and work within this system. As its reputation grew, the institute began receiving numerous requests from OU alumni and donors to share its material with those who are not currently enrolled in the curriculum or are outside the university altogether.

Kyle Harper, director of the institute and senior vice provost, envisioned a website that would feature an entire course—from the American Revolution through present day—taught by OU classics professor Dr. Fears.

“There is no substitute for attending events on campus in person,” Harper said, “but the internet allows people to have access to exciting conversations that we are having on campus.”

Harper knew that authentically capturing the dynamic personality and energy of Dr. Fears would require top-quality filming. To do that, he would need financial support. The response, says Harper, was “incredible.”

“Because he is such a beloved teacher, so many of our alumni had either studied with him or wanted the chance to,” he added.

Dr. Fears died less than a month after recording his final lecture. In October, the institute launched freedom.ou.edu featuring “The Story of Freedom in America.” The lecture series is free and available to the public.

“Dr. Fears was a unique treasure. He was a tireless, dedicated teacher. When we taped these lectures, we knew it was a special opportunity. Little could we have known that these would be the final lectures of such a great teacher,” said Harper.

The lecture series “was his way of giving all of us one last gift,” said OU President David Boren. “He will always be remembered at the University of Oklahoma, where he leaves such an important legacy.” The lecture series features OU professors and other national scholars on constitutional issues from the amendment process to women’s rights.

Donors whose generous gifts made “The Story of Freedom in America” possible are Denny and Dixie Bartell, Sandra and Brian O’Brien, G. T. and Libby Blankenship, Jim and Judy Gibbs, Bill and Charlotte Guffey, Tommy and Kaye Jones, DeeDee and Wallis Marsh, Edward Marsh and Jakie and Melissa Sandefer.