“Professor Velie is a master teacher and a mentor to students,” Ross said. “He is an extremely popular educator that inspires students and engages them and expands their minds; pointing out the critical importance of the written word ... For him the passion of thought is essential to the learning process.”
Additionally, Ross said Velie does not limit teaching to a classroom.
“He has been known to teach all the time, everywhere about anything to anyone,” he said.
When Velie accepted his award, he said he loved OU the moment he arrived on campus, 47 years ago. Velie commented on how OU had moved from being a good state university to a great university especially under the leadership of Boren and his wife, Molly Shi Boren.
“I’m proud and pleased to accept this great honor. More than 100 people here at OU you could say the same thing about. I’m delighted they said it about me.”
After jesting about how sympathy for his recent stroke may have contributed to his selection, Velie said he believed he received the award for his dedication to the University and his students.
“As far as I can see, it’s for service, which comes in all forms,” he said.
Velie began his career at OU in 1967 teaching Shakespeare, but soon shifted his focus to American Indian literature. In 1969, his course in Indian literature was the first in the country to focus on Indian literature from the standpoint of literary analysis, and the first to examine contemporary Indian fiction and poetry. Velie is widely acknowledged as one of the original scholars in this area of study.
He is a past recipient of the Amoco Award for Outstanding Teaching, the Baldwin Award for Excellence in Classroom Instruction and the Summer Faculty Instructional Award as well as being named Mortarboard Honor Society Outstanding Faculty Member. Velie was the founding faculty advisor of the OU Rugby Club and the OU Rugby Football Complex is named in his honor to recognize his years of leadership in the sport.