OKC Professor Spotlight- Marjorie Callahan

Marjorie Callahan

OLLI’s expansion to OU’s Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City celebrates its first-year anniversary this spring semester. Success in OKC is contingent on offering new courses and adding new instructors to the program for our members.  Last fall, OLLI at OU welcomed a new instructor to its OKC location, Marjorie Callahan.  Marjorie serves as graduate liaison for the Division of Architecture, associate director of Faculty Affairs, and assistant professor of Architecture.  Her first senior seminar was The Realms of Architecture.  She developed a following among the participants because of her in-depth discussions, enlightening presentations and genuine passion for the subject.

How did you first hear about OLLI at OU?

Marjorie:  In 2012, my future son-in-law PhD OU History candidate Walker Robins, wondered why I hadn't taught at the OU Health Sciences Center like he was doing. So I did.

Why did you want to lead an OLLI course?

Marjorie:  The location for the coursework (Samis Center) caught my attention.  In high school (Casady in Oklahoma City), Mike Samis and his wife, Karen Hulsey Samis, were a year ahead of me. Interestingly, at an award ceremony a few years back, Mike Samis mentioned me in his talk.  Besides the traditional rigor of research and of teaching as a faculty member in the Division of Architecture at OU, there remains the joy of discovery in writing, in thinking, in sharing about architecture generally. Clearly, the opportunity to have conversation with another mindset appeals to my sensibilities.

This was your first time teaching for OLLI. Can you describe your experience?

Marjorie:  Poetically speaking: nervous and thrilled, insightful and profound feedback gained, preparation and practice multiplied, caution and fear lifted.

What do you like most about OLLI at OU?

Marjorie:  The audience.

What is your overall opinion for OLLI at OU and its expansion to OU’s Health Sciences Center?

Marjorie:  The OU Children’s Hospital Samis Conference Center is a gorgeous facility. All experiences there gave my students and me such joy. We doubt we can go anywhere else now since we have had the best: (a) parking is easy and convenient to Oklahoma City and Edmond residences; (b) facilities have technology staff who are helpful and present with top-flight acoustical and visual resources; (c) seating is comfortable; (d) restrooms are handy, clean and new; and (e) there is a café in the building for further discussion and coffee.

You are scheduled to teach a spring course for OLLI. What are you most looking forward to?

Marjorie: Getting better at what I do. And, this time around, I will take more time upfront, not waiting, to get to know my audience as part of the conversation and inquiry. And to know, without question, that what I am sharing really matters to the audience. They are interested; they love to learn.


What are you offering OLLI students in spring 2015?

Marjorie: From my last audience, there was a strong request for the next architecture course I presented to focus on “green issues.” What could they do with their architecture at home to be sustainable, considerate, and kind to the earth?  Last summer, vacationing, I came upon a book in a rustic cabin about water-strategies for storm water management. I turned the book into a PowerPoint presentation on my laptop just to manage my memory of its contents. So, when the audience and my own recent passion collided, clearly I had a masterpiece for my next OLLI coursework.

Marjorie’s architecture course this spring is Going Green with Architecture. This course will meet Thursdays, February 12 - March 5,  9:30 – 11:00 a.m.