Eric Feuerborn

Pioneer of USAO Core Curriculum to Speak at Spring Commencement

Friday, April 10, 2009

Concluding a 41 year career at the University of Science and Arts, Dr. Ingrid Shafer, professor of philosophy and religion and Mary Jo Ragan Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, will address 142 graduating seniors and their families April 17 during two spring commencement ceremonies at 6 and 8 p.m. in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium.

The 6 p.m. ceremony will recognize graduates receiving a bachelor of science degree -- not including business majors. The 8 p.m. ceremony will honor those receiving bachelor of fine arts, bachelor of arts and bachelor of science in business degree recipients. With 142 grads, this ceremony ranks as one of the largest in school history.

Because of overflow crowds in the past, the spring commencement is divided into two ceremonies. Graduating seniors are issued nine tickets each for friends and family.

For those who cannot get tickets, overflow seating will be provided in the Davis Hall Amphitheater. The ceremony also will be televised on USAO Channel 18 after the event. A DVD version of the ceremony will be available for $15 by writing media@usao.edu or by calling 405-574-1318.

Shafer retires this month from the USAO faculty. She has devoted virtually her entire professional academic career to the development and refinement of USAO's interdisciplinary program, a core that sets USAO apart in Oklahoma and America.

Teaching at USAO, she has said, “is not only, or even primarily, a job. It is a vocation, a calling, a consuming passion,” allowing her to “challenge and encourage” people to discover their intellect and “grow in knowledge, discernment, and humaneness.”

Shafer turned down a better paying job at West Texas State University when she came to USAO in 1968 (then, Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts, OCLA). “I chose USAO because it was a small liberal arts college and I could be part of developing and implementing the new IDS program and especially a 12-credit-hour series of interdisciplinary, team taught courses dealing with global history of ideas from the beginnings to the present the courses now known as the World Thought and Culture sequence.”

In addition to teaching at USAO, she is an adjunct assistant professor of human relations as a member of the graduate faculty at the University of Oklahoma.

Shafer has several books published and is working on at least four more books. Three of her published works focus on Father Andrew Greeley who is considered to be one of the most influential Catholic thinkers, writers, priest, sociologists, authors or journalists of recent times.

Shafer has written more than 100 articles, book chapters, review essays, poems, book reviews and other writings. She moderates eight Internet discussion groups and is the creator/artist/editor of 25 different websites. In addition, she has participated in countless papers, panels, seminars, lectures and poetry readings in the United States, Kenya, Bangladesh, New Delhi, England, Japan, Indonesia, South Africa, Germany, Canada, Hungary and Austria. She was also an invited participant in "A Spiritual Agenda for Peace" at the United Nations Headquarters in 2007.

She has chaired national and international conferences in New Orleans, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, San Diego, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Chicago, Louisville and Canada on religion and culture.

She chaired a conference on "Religion as Story: A Symposium" in Chicago, "Catholicism in Transition: From European Roots to Global Branches" in Austria, and chaired conferences about Andrew Greeley in New York and New Orleans.

Shafer is a member of the American Academy of Religion, American Association for the Advancement of Core Curriculum, American Institute for the Study of Religious Cooperation, American Teilhard Association, Christianity and Literature, Hegel Society of America, Institute for Evolutionary Psychology, Institute for Integrative Studies, Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, International Society for the Study of European Ideas, Modern Language Association and Popular Culture Association.

Shafer is a member and associate director of the Global Dialogue Institute as well as the editor and desktop publisher of GDI's newsletter -- "Dialogue and Community." She is also the vice president of the national board of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church and the editor and desktop publisher of the group's publication -- "ARCC Light."

Shafer received the distinguished alumna award from the OU College of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and received the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in College/University Teaching in 2002. Shafer is the first and only woman to receive the Medal for Excellence in College/University Teaching in the 22-year history of the award. She also was a finalist for the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching and Administration in 2001.

In 2001, Shafer received the Star Award in Recognition of Meritorious Work to Promote Peace and Harmony from The Association for Communal Harmony in Asia. She received USAO Regents Research Awards in 2000 and 1991 and received the USAO Regent's Superior Teaching Award in 1981.