saluting ‘Loophole Bill’ Thompson
In print and online, Sooner Magazine reaches an audience of more than 200,000 OU faithful, all of whom we treasure. Occasionally, we form friendships with readers; even those we’ll never meet.
Such was the case with William “Loophole Bill” Thompson, ’63 bs econ. and ’65 j.d., of Hillsboro, Texas. For the past decade, we looked forward to receiving fat envelopes from Bill with a response to the latest issue of Sooner, a handful of Xeroxed New Yorker cartoons from his files and—if we were lucky—a joke reflecting his dry wit.
Bill’s wife, Ann Harms Thompson, OU ’65 bs home ec., was kind enough to let us know that Bill passed away in September and sent us a copy of his obituary. It’s a testament to Bill’s modesty that he never mentioned his distinguished law career. Our condolences to his family, and our admiration for a life well-lived.
Opening the office mail won’t be as much fun in coming days. We’ll say our goodbyes as you always closed your letters to us … Boomer, Bill.
Anne Barajas Harp
'Safe Haven' Makes Alum Proud
In the spring of 1994, after seeing the scenes of the war in Bosnia, my husband and I decided to sponsor a Bosnian refugee family.
The Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services matched us with a young couple and their eighteen-month-old daughter.
It has now been thirty years since they arrived here, not knowing English but eager to learn and ready to work. During this time, it has been our privilege to see how much they have accomplished. Safida, the wife, has a college degree; Zijo, the husband, has worked in carpentry design; and Adela, their daughter, as well as her younger sister, are both CPAs.
When I read about the Safe Haven project [“A Safe Haven for Scholars,” Summer 2023], I thought about how much refugees can contribute with just a little help. What the University of Oklahoma is doing to support these deserving people made me proud of OU.
Kay Stevens Arnold
’63 bfa, art hist.
Des Moines, Iowa
A Personal Connection to the Collections
What a great article! [“Collections Make the Connection," Summer 2023.] Of course, I am partial to the teachings of Dr. Levenson (he is my brother), but I totally agree and connect with the idea of art supporting any subject matter.
I was an East Asian Studies major and took many art history courses. For some learners, like myself, connecting visually with history and culture really gels the content in a way that is unforgettable. And even if fine art is not your jam, it’s a creative approach and can appeal to the curiosity of all types of students.
White Plains, N.Y.
Stepping Out of the Towers’ Shadows
I lived in Adams Tower in 1972 with my roommate, George Thompson. We were good friends from Dewey [Okla.] High School. We shared a bathroom with two friends from Irving, Texas, who were great guys. I have so many great memories from there and a few not-so-great memories, too. Most of both kinds can’t be shared here!
That experience started my 22-year Army career, an 18-year career as a civil servant at the National Security Agency (NSA), retirement and, eventually, my move back to Goldsby, Okla., with my wife in 2015. In the Army and NSA, we lived all over the world—Alaska, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia (during the Persian Gulf War), Korea, and Germany. We traveled to another 38 countries for a week or more—most of them for work, but some as tourists—like the old Soviet Union and Russia, Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and each of the former Soviet Bloc countries after their freedom.
It was all remarkable, making new friends, seeing places that had changed from occupied Marxist/Leninist countries to free nations. It was an experience money couldn’t buy, but mine was enabled by an Adams Tower floormate named Jim Fansher. I doubt he would even remember the tall, skinny kid, but his Army service was what intrigued me to enlist and move from PVT to CSM during my Army career.
The knowledge I gained in the Army leading large groups of highly trained and motivated soldiers led to my career at NSA as a cryptologist, rising to a senior-level executive and earning my Master's in Computer Systems Management, then a Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership and teaching at four different universities for 15 years before being forced to retire from a disability from Gulf War Illness (GWI) contracted during the Persian Gulf War.
I would trade my GWI for anything, but not my experiences writ large. Thank you for spurring my memories of how Adams Tower started my life on such a remarkable journey!
Dr. David Hatfield
Judging the Public/Private Education Fight
I enjoyed the Summer 2023 edition of Sooner Magazine, and my interest was quickened when I came to the article on the “Public/Private Education Fight.”
One thing that deeply puzzled me: Professor Carlson is an OU faculty member, and the article about him appears in Sooner Magazine, but the article never says a word about school choice in Oklahoma. The article mentions Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana and Louisiana. But (checks notes) not Oklahoma.
Granted, universal school choice was just enacted this year. It first appeared in February, when the Speaker of the Oklahoma House suddenly produced a fully fleshed-out bill. A version of the bill survived the choppy waters of the legislative process, and the Governor signed it in May, calling it “a historic day for the state of Oklahoma.”
But predating this new law, which kicks in January 1 of 2024, were limited school choice programs. The first was the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for special needs students, military kids and foster children. The second was a program for lower-income kids fueled by tax credits for donors. (Full disclosure: I helped start the Opportunity Scholarship Fund, an organization spawned by this second law.)
There’s a lot of public information about Henry Scholarships and OSF. And there’s a wealth of legislative debate and discussion behind the new universal school choice law. But not a whisper of any of it in your article about Prof. Carlson.
The article does discuss the problems of school choice in rural areas. It ignores the private schools in Idabel, Sulphur, Durant, Tahlequah, Pryor, Vinita, Miami, Woodward, Corn, Shawnee, Altus, Chandler and other similar locations. And with the new law, new schools will be encouraged to spring up in other small towns.
Incidentally, I’m glad Prof. Carlson is pleased with the public schools his own children are in. I’m an “all of the above” advocate, myself, and I served on the Bartlesville school board for eight years. But I do see the benefits of making private schools a choice when, for whatever reason, your local public school isn’t meeting your child’s needs.
Charles E. Daniels
’63 ba, poli sci.; ’65 j.d.
(Editor’s Note: We love hearing our readers’ varied opinions and experiences. During a conversation with Mr. Daniels we shared that, at the time of publication, Professor Deven Carlson’s scholarship had not yet focused on Oklahoma’s "universal school choice" efforts.)
Lest We Forget ...
Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how much I enjoyed the brief article on Cheddy Sliepcevich [Summer 2023]. In addition to being a pillar of the engineering college, he was a personal mentor to both me and my father. Indeed, he gave me one of my first jobs as a lab assistant while I was still in high school—he helped form my views of research and academia.
He was an intellectual giant, the likes of which OU needs more of. As always, thanks for David Levy’s perspective and chronicling of the University.
’97 bs, chem eng.
Having enjoyed every one David Levy’s “Lest We Forget” columns, I simply could not let the one on Dr. Cheddy Sliepcevich pass without comment.
I was blessed to be one of his Ph.D. students. He took up my cause when my original graduate professor left the university. During my working career at Phillips Petroleum, I was around a lot of really smart and innovative engineers—one had over 280 patents—but no one with the creative mind of Dr. Sliepcevich. In addition to being brilliant, he was kind. It was an honor to have known and worked for him.
’67 bs, chem eng.; ’71 ms, chem eng.; ’73 ph.d., chem eng.
My son just sent me the link to the Sooner Magazine article by David Levy [Spring 2023] on my father, Paul Ruggiers. He was indeed a Renaissance man in every sense, but mainly a Medievalist/Philosopher and wonderful father/role model for me and his countless students. Dr. Levy’s kind words caught the essence of a truly good man.
’80 ba, hist.; ’83 j.d.
Santa Fe, N.M.