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December 21, 2013

Professor isn’t about to stop now

NORMAN — University of Oklahoma professor Alan Velie isn’t stopping any time soon. In fact, he isn’t even slowing down.

After teaching at the university for 46 years, Velie said he still loves teaching.

“Teaching is fascinating. Every time I teach, I learn something new,” Velie said.

Velie suffered a stroke last February, but was back to teaching by the end of the semester. In fact, after his stroke, not one class day was canceled, as other teachers volunteered to teach his classes and students remained diligent about showing up.

“I think that speaks of the love and compassion that students to alumni, like myself, to President Boren, who visited Alan when he was in the hospital after his stroke, all have for him,” said Tripp Hall, Velie’s past student and OU vice president for development.

So while Velie may now use a golf cart to get around the OU campus, students believe he is still the welcoming, intellectually challenging professor he has always been. Velie said his future plans are teaching, simple as that.

“My dad says he wants to make it to 50 years teaching at OU, but I think he’ll keep going,” Will Velie, Alan Velie’s son, said. “ He always jokes that he doesn’t garden, so what else would he do.”

Velie was born and raised in New York City. He obtained his PhD at Stanford University and is an ex-Marine. He met his wife, Sue Velie, while she was attending Radcliff College, and he was at Harvard University. They have two sons, Jon and Will Velie, who are attorneys in Norman.

Velie is a David Ross Boyd Professor of English. He began his career as a Shakespeare professor, but when students began to demand classes on American Indian literature, he was asked to take on the challenge of crafting a course that would apply literature analysis to Indian literature. Velie said he didn’t know anything about American Indian literature to begin with, and in the ’60s, there wasn’t a lot of Indian literature in print — maybe nine novels. Velie explained that “House Made of Dawn,” by Scott Momaday, was part of the American Indian Renaissance, and today there are several hundred American Indian novels.

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