The Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage’s annual Patti and Roger Clapp Constitution Day celebration was another success in what the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences hopes to be a continued tradition. The day was capped off by a seminar as a part of the J. Rufus Fears Lecture series.
Each year, the institute hosts a scholar specializing in constitutional history and study. This year brought two associate professors of history from Stanford -- Jonathan Gienapp and Anne Twitty. Each hosted a lecture on the importance of the document that founded the United States of America.
“Between my and Anne’s presentations, our topics are linked,” Gienapp remarked. “The singular idea of popular sovereignty. That the people were the supreme and final authority in the United States.”
It is fitting that these lectures were named after J. Rufus Fears, whom IACH associated faculty member and G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair Dr. Kyle Harper credited with, “bringing to life the big questions.” Dr. Harper studied under Professor Fears during his undergraduate career at the University of Oklahoma.
“What does it mean to be a citizen?” asked Dr. Harper, invoking Fears. “What is a constitution? Dr. Fears asked these questions.”
It was the wish of the Clapps to name the lectures hosted by the IACH after the late Dr. Fears. 2023 marked the inaugural run of the series along with the first year the department adorned Constitution Day with the Clapp family name.
Last year, the Clapps donated a $250,000 dollar endowment towards the support of the celebration. This gesture was another in a long line of support the Clapps have shown OU and the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences for over 25 years in both volunteer and philanthropic capacities.
The Clapps graduated from OU in 1965. Patti earned a degree in English and two minors in history and politics. Patti then dedicated 25 years of her professional life working for the Dallas Regional Chamber and served in various leadership volunteer roles in the community. Roger graduated with an undergraduate degree in engineering physics before he completed law school at Southern Methodist and became an attorney in Dallas.
Their generosity will help ensure that acknowledging and discussing the importance of the most pivotal document in the history of the United States will continue for future generations of OU students.
“They share a passion to help others through their life-long work in the community, careers, and family.” Dean David Wrobel said in his opening remarks. “They believe in the importance of, and the need for, civic education.”