Dean of the J. Rufus Fears Fellowship

Dr. Rick Farmer serves as OCPA’s Dean of the J. Rufus Fears Fellowship. Previously, Rick served as director of committee staff at the Oklahoma House of Representatives, deputy insurance commissioner, and director of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission. Earning his Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma and tenure at the University of Akron, Rick can best be described as a “Pracademic.” While working full-time in Oklahoma government, he continued to teach and write. He served as president of the Oklahoma Political Science Association and chairman of the American Political Science Association’s Practical Politics Working Group. In 2016, he was awarded the Oklahoma Political Science Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Farmer has appeared on CNN, NBC, MSNBC, C-SPAN, BBC Radio and various local news outlets. His comments are quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and numerous local newspapers. He is the author of more than 30 academic chapters and articles and the co-editor of four books.

Dean of the J. Rufus Fears Fellowship


When OCPA envisioned the J. Rufus Fears Fellowship, our aim was to prepare young leaders for Oklahoma’s future. As it turns out, that future is now. Already, Fears Fellows are doing great things.

This year, Fears Fellows are running for office, managing campaigns for major candidates, and working for elected officials. Other Fellows are finding success in the business world—running their own companies or working in corporate management. Because the Fears Fellowship includes 18- to 35-year-olds, some Fellows are serving in student leadership positions on Oklahoma’s college campuses.

“I have been a part of several leadership trainings. This is the best one I have found.”

Fears Fellows are making a much-needed difference in Oklahoma, and they are making that difference today.

Since its inception, a total of 71 young conservatives have participated in the program. The first group assembled at OCPA headquarters last winter. A second cohort gathered in Ardmore over the summer. Currently, a group is meeting in Tulsa.

The program attracts young adults from various educational backgrounds. We have attorneys, MBAs, Ph.D.s, and college freshmen in the program. One thing they all have in common is that their universities failed them when it comes to teaching the history and principles of freedom. As one Fellow said, “I have a political science master’s degree and no one ever told me these things.”

“I have a political science master’s degree and no one ever told me these things.”

The Fears Fellowship seeks to identify, inspire, and equip young conservative leaders for Oklahoma’s future. While exploring the ideals of free enterprise, limited government, personal responsibility, and individual initiative, we perpetuate the memory of Oklahoma’s greatest scholar, the late Dr. J. Rufus Fears.

Fellows watch lectures from Dr. Fears. They read original works from the ancient Greeks to the Federalist Papers. They study economics and leadership. Each meeting includes a discussion of the lecture and reading, a group activity, and lunch with a successful business, civic, or political leader. In recommending the fellowship to his friends, one recent fellow said, “I have been a part of several leadership trainings. This is the best one I have found.”

OCPA is planning four Fears Fellowship cohorts in 2021. The next one forms in Oklahoma City on January 30, 2021. The application deadline is December 4, 2020. Other groups will form in Tulsa in the fall, outside the metros (possibly Enid) this summer, and at Oklahoma Christian University during the fall semester.

Please encourage young conservatives to visit and request an application.

Dean of the J. Rufus Fears Fellowship