NORMAN — University of Oklahoma professor J. Rufus Fears died Saturday, the university announced.
“Rufus Fears was one of the greatest teachers in the history of our state,” OU President David L. Boren said. “His death is not only a great loss to the University but to the future generations of students who will be deprived of learning from him in the classroom.”
Fears, 67, joined the OU faculty in 1990, serving as a professor of classics. He soon was selected for the distinction of being named David Ross Boyd professor of classics. He also served two years as dean for OU’s College of Arts and Sciences.
In 1992, he was named to the G.T. and Libby Blankenship chair in the History of Liberty and was named director of OU’s Center for the History of Liberty. His courses on the freedom of Rome and the freedom of Greece are two of the most popular courses at the University.
“He had just completed a series of lectures on the history of freedom, which will be available online to both OU students and the broader community. It was his way of giving all of us one last gift,” Boren said.
Fears was the recipient of numerous awards for teaching, including being selected three times by OU students as Professor of the Year and being named by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence as recipient of the Medal for Excellence in College and University teaching.
“He will always be remembered at the University of Oklahoma, where he leaves such an important legacy,” Boren said.
The professor earned his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in history and classics at Emroy University and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard.
Memorial arrangements are pending with Havenbrook Funeral Home.
“Our hearts go out to his wife, Charlene, and their children,” Boren said.