OCPA’s J. Rufus Fears Fellowship develops young leaders in public life; equips them to stand up for free enterprise, limited government, personal responsibility and individual initiative; and perpetuates the memory of Oklahoma’s greatest scholar

Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that freedom produces the highest quality of life and overall standard of living. As the next generation of leaders, Fears Fellows are able to apply the ideals of liberty to 21st-century problems. Fellows meet prominent political and business leaders, read original sources and founding documents, watch Dr. Fears' classic lectures, and engage in dynamic discussions of the study material. They learn how to translate ideals into action.

Young leaders 18-35, both professionals and students, are encouraged to apply. A limited number of fellowships are available. We anticipate a competitive selection process. 

Fears Fellowship cohorts are planned for OKC and Tulsa in 2024. See the fellowship dates and deadlines below.


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Developing tomorrow's leaders

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Dr. J. Rufus Fears was a Professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma and the David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. Fears was an acclaimed teacher, scholar, and renowned lecturer. He was a historian of liberty who influenced generations of students to connect the lessons of the past to the political questions of our time. The J. Rufus Fears Fellowship honors his memory and continues his legacy.

About Dr. Fears

About the program

Dr. Rick Farmer is dean of the Fears Fellowship at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. He previously served as director of committee staff for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, director of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission, and Deputy Insurance Commissioner. Dr. Farmer  was a tenured associate professor at the University of Akron in Ohio, where he was a fellow in the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics. He grew up in Tahlequah and earned a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University before earning his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Oklahoma.

Program Director


Academic Credit Available

Credit is available to select students. To find out more about how to earn college credit through the Fears Fellowship, please contact Dr. Farmer at Rick@OCPAthink.org