May 3, 2021
Dr. Sara Jane Richter has announced that after 35 years of serving Oklahoma Panhandle State University, she will be retiring. In her time here at OPSU, Dr. Richter has been able to be a positive force in many people’s lives.
Originally from Atchinson, KS, Richter fell in love with Oklahoma soon after moving to Hennessy in the sixth grade. The first in her family to attend college, Dr. Richter attended Phillips University, where she received a Bachelor of Art’s degree in History. Her educational journey continued at Oklahoma State University, where she earned a Master of Art’s degrees in History and English and completed her Doctor of Philosophy in English.
Dr. Richter came to OPSU in the fall of 1985 and found her home on the high plains. Dr. Richter changed lives in the classroom while continuing to contribute to her field through scholarly activities. During her career, her creativity and scholarly contributions included authoring two books, many research and writing projects, serving as a historical consultant for several PBS programs, and holding office in many national organizations. Her historical and literary presentations at the local, regional, and national levels have contributed significantly to broaden public understanding of history and humanities, and in doing so, she brought the spirit of OPSU to countless audiences.
University President, Dr. Tim Faltyn stated, “Dr. Richter is one of those people that can change your life if you let her. She has been a blessing to me both personally and professionally, OPSU will forever be better because of her and all she has done for our students, this university, the community, and the field of humanities.”
Always trying to find exciting ways to keep her students attention, alumni and students from across the US remember Dr. Richter for her love of her craft. Her ability to reach students through her wit, humor, and serious care for her students is unmatched. She helped build the School of Liberal Arts, now the College of Arts and Education, hiring and mentoring faculty to promote comradery and excellence. Her faculty recognized her as their greatest advocate and supporter.
She is a central figure in all of OPSU’s graduation and commencement preparations, where she has helped shape the tradition and ceremony, which will last for generations.
Tito Aznar, a former student and now faculty member at OPSU, said it best when he stated, “Dr. Richter is an inspiration. She inspires students in her classroom and colleagues on campus. Her sense of humor and laughter are always welcoming. She was one of the first people I met on campus when I came from Argentina almost 20 years ago. She has taught me—and many others—what it means to be a good teacher, a dedicated worker, and a loyal friend. I hope she has a great time in her retirement. Our department will never be the same without her.”
In the community, Dr. Richter is a recognizable star of many OPSU theater productions and is known as a supporter of the arts in the region. Dean of the College of Arts and Education, Dr. Brad Duren, had this to say on Richter’s parting, “Dr. Sara Jane Richter has left an indelible mark on the lives of thousands of students. Dr. Richter is a big part of the reason I came to OPSU in 1999 and an even bigger reason that I stayed. Her friendship, mentorship, and support through the years have left me a debt I can never repay. I am grateful to have worked with her, and I know her legacy at OPSU is secure.”
“I am thankful for the professional life that I have carved out here on the High Plains,” said Richter. “I have lived a blessed life and take great pride in my association with this campus and community and would serve them again in a heartbeat. OPSU has my heart. I am OPSU through and through.”
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