Elaine Pagels is a professor of religion at Princeton University. She has been on the forefront of religious scholarship since her work with the Nag Hammadi library manuscripts (discovered in 1945) that gave voice to early Gnostic Christian hitherto only known by early Christian writers who condemned them as heretical. Her first book The Gnostic Gospels (1979) placed these writings in a historical and theological context with other Christian writing of the same period and underscored the diversity of Christian communities in its earliest period. Since, Pagels has written numerous books on the Christian faith including Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (2003), Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity (2007) and, most recently, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation (2012). Pagels was awarded a MacArthur fellowship in 1980.

On March 7, Pagels will serve as the keynote speaker for the seventh-annual Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium. Her keynote address is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium.


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Gifts from Unique Alums Support Liberal Arts Symposium at USAO


Two unique women in the history of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, one living and the other long gone, continue to leave a lasting legacy to interdisciplinary learning as the university hosts the fourth annual Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium April 8.

The symposium is made possible by the late Gladys Anderson Emerson, a noted biochemist who isolated Vitamin E in her career after graduating from OCW in 1925, and Nance Foules Wier, a 1945 graduate who established the Jack Wier Jr. and Nance Foules Wier Faculty Enhancement Endowment at USAO. Wier, who lives in Houston, established her endowment in 2005; Emerson died in 1984.

A 1945 Oklahoma College for Women alumna, Nance Wier maintains that “teachers, not buildings,” promote effective learning. In 2005, she established the Jack Wier, Jr. and Nance Foules Wier Faculty Enhancement Endowment that provides funds to encourage faculty research and learning opportunities, such as the symposium.

In addition to the Faculty Enhancement Endowment, a Nance Foules Wier Scholarship is available through the USAO Alumni Association for female students attending USAO who are in need of financial assistance.

Nutrition expert Gladys Anderson Emerson is most famous for isolating Vitamin E, but may be better known at USAO as a global ambassador for the liberal arts. Unknown Object

Emerson earned two degrees from the Oklahoma College for Women — one a bachelor of arts in history and English, and the other a bachelor of science in physics and chemistry. She earned a master’s degree in history and economics at Stanford University and a doctorial degree from the University of California.

During a professional career that spanned some 50 years, Emerson lectured and conducted research at some of the most prominent facilities in the United States. Her articles — more than 100 of them — appeared in leading research journals throughout the world.

Following her death in 1984, USAO received a bequest from the estate of Emerson, which has been used for interdisciplinary learning opportunities, research and the symposium named in her honor.

USAO’s Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium series is sponsored annually by the USAO Foundation and was inspired by endowment funds created by Oklahoma College for Women alumni Gladys Anderson Emerson and Nance Foules Wier.


Gladys Anderson Emerson (top) and Nance Foules Wier (bottom) continue to leave a lasting legacy to interdisciplinary learning at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.