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March 7, 2014

USAO loses prolific professor

Shafer remembered as kind educator, soul

CHICKASHA —

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma lost a piece of its history and backbone since it became a co-educational, liberal arts university in 1965 on Wednesday with the death of Professor Emerita Ingrid Shafer.

As a professor of philosophy and religion at USAO of more than 40 years, Shafer helped develop the college's interdisciplinary studies program in the '60s, was a prolific author about religious issues and fostered inter-faith dialogue.

Shafer retired from her job as a professor of philosophy and religion in 2009. She died of cancer Wednesday at her son's home in Lafayette, California, where she had been living for 18 months.

USAO Media Writer Rob Vollmar was a former student of Shafer's and said she was a professor who would let students who were struggling financially stay with her, a writer of scholarly work and poems, a painter, and a musician.

"There was nothing she wasn't good at…I realized [after graduation] I had studied under, in my opinion, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century," Vollmar said. "There is nobody that has graduated from USAO from 1968 to 2009 that wasn't impacted by her."

USAO President John Feaver said Shafer was a Catholic and wrote about Catholic theology, but wrote and spoke about different faiths and inter-faith dialogue around the world.

"She would [travel the world] and come back home to USAO," Vollmar said. "It says a lot about her humility and her priority, which was teaching students."

USAO Vice President for Academic Affairs Dexter Marble said he team-taught with  Shafer in 1972 and her diverse interests made her a perfect candidate for professor at USAO when they became a co-educational liberal arts college.

"She's one of the most amazing scholars I've encountered anywhere," Marble said. "She was a caring [faculty member] who devoted her life to the success of USAO and its students."

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