Hall of Fame Member Biographies

Alan R. Velie

It is one thing to talk about discovery and creativity; it is quite another to accomplish it. Alan R. Velie of the University of Oklahoma has been one such individual who has accomplished this much sought-after goal of colleges and universities. First trained in Shakespeare, his experience in Oklahoma led him to discover the literary treasures of Native Americans that had been overlooked by generations of literary scholars. He became one of the pioneers of bringing this rich literature into public awareness.

Alan R. Velie obtained a B.A. from Harvard University and then a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1969. He was employed as an instructor at the University of Oklahoma (OU) in 1967 and became professor in 1981; he served as Chair of the English Department between 1978 and 1982. His early publications focused on Shakespearean drama, but as early as 1982 he published his discoveries on Native American literature, his first book on the subject being Four American Indian Literary Masters. By the 1990s he was recognized nationwide as one of the pioneers in bringing notice to Native American literature, publishing in 1995 the book Native American Perspectives on Literature and History. His reputation was so renowned that he was asked to be a co-editor on the Encyclopedia of American Indian Literature (2007, coedited with Jennifer McClinton). His interest in the subject has never flagged, and in 2013 he was the editor of The Native American Renaissance: Volume I. In the course of his nearly half-century career at the University of Oklahoma, he has published 11 books, 31 journal articles, and 13 book chapters—a tremendous scholarly outpouring.

His discovery of Native American writers and their literary masterpieces has resulted in his being asked to give numerous addresses around the nation and the globe. In the United States, he has given seminars at Yale; University of California, Berkeley; the Cooper Union (New York); the University of Georgia; New York University; and numerous other locales. His list of invited lectures overseas almost reads like a roll call of the United Nations: Portugal, England, China, Venezuela, Bolivia, Italy, Poland, Canada, France, Czech Republic, Jordan, Sweden, Bulgaria, Japan, Spain, Egypt, and India. He has helped to give the University of Oklahoma, the state of Oklahoma, and Native Americans an international reputation.

As prodigious has been his scholarly publications, Professor Velie has shone in the classroom. Not only has he taught his areas of expertise--Shakespeare, Renaissance Drama, and American Indian Literature—but he has taught the Bible as Literature, an immensely popular course at OU. One of his favorite pastimes has been joining the Honors at Oxford Program in which OU students learn from an Oxford tutor. His graduate students have carried on his tradition by becoming leading scholars of Native American literature. Teaching awards followed routinely. In 1972 he was honored with the Amoco Award for Outstanding Teaching, in 1986 the Baldwin Award for Excellence in Classroom Instruction, and in 1988-89, the Mortarboard Honor Society Outstanding Faculty Member. His prowess as a teacher was recognized by the University of Oklahoma in 1994 when he was given the University’s highest award for teaching, the David Ross Boyd Professorship. Then in 2014 he was once again recognized as an outstanding faculty member for all his accomplishments—publication and teaching and outreach—by being named the recipient of the Otis Sullivant Award for Perceptivity.

For his outstanding contributions to scholarship, for his bringing to public awareness the literary masterpieces of Native American writing, for his devotion to teaching and his ability to inspire critical thinking in students, the OHEHS welcomes Alan R. Velie into this year’s class of the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame.