The Last Lecture Series scheduled for Fall 2012 Semester

Release Date: 8/22/2012

University of the Ozarks will present The Last Lecture Series, a string of four Friday evening talks by current university professors, throughout the Fall Semester as part of the 2012-2013 Walton Arts & Ideas Series.

The Last Lecture Series The Last Lecture Series speakers will be: Dr. Kim Van Scoy, associate professor of life science education, on Sept. 14; Dr. Dave Daily, professor of religion, on Oct. 19; Dr. Sean Coleman, professor of biology, on Nov. 2; and Dr. Elissa Heil, professor of English and Spanish and associate academic dean, on Nov. 16.

The lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public. All of the lectures except Daily's will be held in the new Rogers Conference Center. Daily's event will be held in Rowntree Auditorium, located in the Walton Fine Arts Center.

The Walton Arts & Ideas Series (WAIS), which began at Ozarks in 1992 through an endowed gift by the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The university is also searching for a new president following the announced July 2013 retirement of President Dr. Rick Niece, who has led the university since 1997.

Humanities and Fine Arts Division Chair Dr. David Strain, the chair of the WAIS, said the program's milestone anniversary as well as the transition to a new president were the impetus for The Last Lecture Series.

"This fall, as Ozarks prepares to welcome its 25th president, the Walton Arts and Ideas Series will be offering something different and, we hope, appropriate for the occasion: a season of reflection," Strain said. "Instead of bringing the richness of the world beyond to our campus, we intend to celebrate the richness among us."

Strain said the premise of The Last Lecture Series is that members of the Ozarks faculty will give the lecture they would give if they knew it would be their last. The professors were chosen by a panel of students.

"By way of preparing this series, we began where, at our best, we always begin: with students," Strain said. "We asked them to identify a professor who had made them think more deeply about the business of living. We then asked those four professors to agree to share their thoughts with us. We are deeply grateful for each of these professors and for the ways they enrich our common life. We very much hope the audience will enjoy their reflections."

Strain said the lectures are being held on Friday evenings so that alumni who were positively impacted by the professors could attend the lecture.

"In a time of transition I hope that this series of lectures will allow all who treasure that gold-and-purple banner---faculty, students, staff, alumni---to slow down, to think back, to listen carefully, and to reflect before following it into a brave new era," Strain said. "We know these four as scholars and as colleagues. Perhaps this will allow us to know them as people. And perhaps, in knowing them, we may come to know ourselves a little better---what brought us to this (university) in the first place, what has kept us here, what binds us all together, what we must preserve, what we must put away, what will see us through."

The Last Lecture faculty speakers:

Dr. Sean Coleman, Professor of Biology, says "I like to use technology in the classroom and use scientific research in labs as a learning tool." He uses his classes to open up a window to the enormous possibilities that exist in the field of biology and encourages his students to look beyond their assignments and exams -- to learn how to think about how things in the biological world work together. Dr. Sean Coleman
Dr. Dave Daily, Professor of Religion, says, "The study of religion is far more than mere opinions on the one hand or 'right and wrong answers' on the other. Instead, it helps us better understand why we see the world the way we do, and why we might care about making it better." Dr. Dave Daily
Dr. Elissa Heil, Professor of English and Spanish and Associate Academic Dean says ""[My students have taught me] that every day is fresh and new and potentially exciting. I hope they [will take from my classes] a lifelong interest in learning, a commitment to diversity, skills with which to prosper in our complex world, a greater awareness of community and individuality, and a love of and respect for humanity." Dr. Elissa Heil
Dr. Kim Van Scoy, Associate Professor of Science Education and Environmental Studies, describes teaching as her "passion." "What could be better than having a profession that reflects that passion? Regardless of where I'm employed, I take on the role of teacher," she says. "Nothing gives me more satisfaction than sharing the beauty of science with young adults." Dr. Kim Van Scoy