Prominent University of Oklahoma professor and historian J. Rufus Fears died Saturday night, the university said.
Fears, 67, 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.
Fears joined the OU faculty in 1990, serving as 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.
“Rufus Fears was one of the greatest teachers in the history of our state,” OU President David Boren wrote in a news release.
“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. He also educated the American public about our past so we could better understand the present and the future,” Boren said.
In addition to being a professor, Fears also wrote books and monographs including, “The Cult of Jupiter and Roman Imperial Ideology” and The Theology of Victory at Rome.” He edited a three-volume edition of “Selected Writings of Lord Acton,” and had released more than a dozen titles for The Great Courses lecture series.
“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. He will always be remembered at the University of Oklahoma, where he leaves such an important legacy. Our hearts go out to his wife, Charlene, and their children,” Boren said.
Fears earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in history and classics at Emory University and his master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard. Before joining the OU faculty, Fears was Professor of History and Distinguished Faculty Research Lecturer at Indiana University, and Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University.
Services are pending.