James P. Pappas, vice president for outreach and dean of the College of Liberal Studies at the University of Oklahoma, was recently awarded an honorary title of Professor Honoris Causa for his contributions to lifelong learning in a public ceremony at the University of Bucharest, Romania.
“This recognition came as a surprise and was very humbling,” Pappas said. “The University of Bucharest is a great institution of higher learning in Europe. I am deeply honored by this award from my esteemed colleagues in Romania. I believe it recognizes, too, the great work in which the University of Oklahoma and OU Outreach are engaged, and it is another opportunity to showcase the university on the world stage. And for all of that I am very thankful.”
OU President David L. Boren said, “The University of Oklahoma is extremely proud of Dr. Pappas’ role in bringing educational opportunities to students who are spread all over the globe. These place-bound students would otherwise be unable to participate in educational programs which they need.”
The University of Bucharest, considered among the most important universities in Romania and southeast Europe, was established in 1864. It is comprised of 18 faculties or colleges. The Faculty of Psychology and Educational Studies selected and voted on Pappas to receive the honor. The practice of awarding honorary degrees and designations dates back to the Middle Ages.
Pappas was cited for his “outstanding achievements in the field of adult and continuing education,” according to Romita Iucu, vice rector of the University of Bucharest. As a result of the ceremony, Pappas “became an elite member of our scientific community,” Iucu said.
As part of the award ceremony in Bucharest, Pappas delivered an address to members of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Studies providing his perspective on lifelong learning trends and the future of the field.
Following the ceremony, Pappas participated in the Fourth International Conference on Adult Education, held at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi in Iasi, Romania. There, he moderated a panel on adult higher education in the United States and Western Europe. The panel, representing American and European universities, discussed adult basic education, the impact of online education, executive and corporate education and the role of adult education in non-governmental organizations. Pappas also served as chair for the induction ceremony for the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame, hosted by the University of Oklahoma, in which six internationally noted adult and continuing educators were inducted. Participants in the event included all of the inductees as well as Romania’s minister of education, the president of the provincial county and the mayor of Isai.
Pappas joined OU in 1987. In addition to his roles in outreach and the College of Liberal Studies, he is a professor in Educational Psychology and Liberal Studies.
Prior to coming to OU, Pappas served as associate dean of liberal education, associate dean of continuing education and director of academic counseling at the University of Utah. He has worked as a psychologist in the Veterans Administration, a faculty member at Indiana
University and an assessment officer with the Peace Corps. He has consulted with governmental, business and educational organizations in the areas of psychological assessment, training and development and marketing.
Pappas has served as an officer on numerous community service and professional association boards, including the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities; the Association of Continuing Higher Education, for which he is currently executive vice president; University Professional and Continuing Education Association and the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs, the latter two of which he has served as president.
He has produced more than 100 professional presentations and articles in the fields of adult education, counseling and administration. In addition, he has edited and co-edited monographs addressing economic development, adult degree programs and the nontraditional doctoral degree.
Pappas oversees OU’s academic outreach program that serves more than 250,000 participants, has 55,000 credit enrollments, provides 13 adult degree programs, offers more than
1,000 distance and online courses and administers numerous large federal and state grants and contracts that provide education and training for government employees. These sponsored programs include supervisory and executive training for the Postal Service, a nine-state substance abuse prevention program, a national resource center for runaway youth, comprehensive educational resource centers serving seven states and a contract to deliver graduate degrees to armed forces bases in Europe. Outreach also offers business and executive programs in economic development, banking, engineering and management.