Summer Break the OU Way: Educators’ Edition

We’ve covered a lot of the exciting things OU students did with their time during their summer breaks, but what about the professors?  Some of OU’s finest told us what they were up to in the summer of 2010, and you’d be surprised:  they’re not lying by the pool discussing individualism, the social order, or the number of elements in a common universe…instead, these scholars sharpened their proverbial swords of knowledge while having some fun at the same time– definitely putting a spin on the term, “lifelong learning.”

Earlier in the summer of 2010, Dr. Joe Knippenberg, professor of politics, spent some time in Kurdistan (in the Middle East) as part of a site visit team for the American Academy of Liberal Education ( He sat on the Academy’s Council of Scholars. Knippenberg and the rest of the team visited the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani (, a brand new liberal arts university whose language of instruction is English.

There are a few things someone from North America has to get used to.  First, there are Pesh Merga (Kurdish militiamen) everywhere, and they carry AK47s.  Second, there are almost no traffic lights, but lots of police officers attempting to direct traffic.  Third, the whole city (and indeed the whole region) seems to be under construction.  There are several explanations for this, among them that… in accordance with Islamic principles, money cannot be lent at interest, which means that lots of construction starts…and then stops…and then starts again, as revenue comes in and is spent.”

        —Dr. Knippenberg about his experience in Kurdistan in the summer of 2010.

   Dr. Vicky Weiss,  retired professor of English, will be headed to Washington D.C. to participate in a seminar on Greek literature at the Center for Hellenic Studies.  The seminar “addresses the challenge of keeping alive in undergraduate education classical texts such as the Iliad, Odyssey, the Homeric Hymns, the poetry of Hesiod, and the Histories of Herodotus that a generation ago were read and understood by everyone.”  Dr. Weiss was one of only 24 professors selected out of pool of almost 100 nominations.  Having taken her class for Historical Perspectives, before she retired in 2011, I think it’s safe to say that no one knew Herodotus better than Vicky Weiss.

Anne Salter, Director of the Philip Weltner Library, went to the University of Edinburgh to present a paper along with her colleague from Mercer University.  Their paper concerns the use of e-books among academics.   She said she’s “excited and nervous,” but we doubt there’s even a need to be.

Alan Loehle’s class in NY

Alan Loehle, professor of art, researched a series of paintings based on a trip to Rome during his Guggenheim Fellowship. He also traveled to New York to teach an 11-day class, “Critical Issues in Art and Philosophy” with Dr. Simon Sparks. The group stayed in the dorms at NYU and used the resources of New York as their classroom to explore critical, philosophical and aesthetic issues in art, with a special emphasis on modern and contemporary art.

Our students had the good fortune to see the Whitney Biennial as well as the Christian Boltansky installation at the Armory, which was a highlight of the trip. In the performing arts, we were fortunate to see the Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and the plays Red (about the work of Mark Rothko) on Broadway and Gabriel off Broadway.”

—Alan Loehle, about the art class he taught in New York.

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