After 43 years of working at Oklahoma Christian University, history professor John Maple will retire after the fall semester.
An Oklahoma Christian alumnus, Maple also served as the faculty advisor for Phi Alpha Theta. He won 24 consecutive best chapter awards with the history honor society.
Maple has been battling multiple myeloma cancer for 10 years, and as it gets harder to work, he decided it was time to stop teaching.
“I have mixed emotions,” Maple said. “I will miss the relationships with students, I will miss the interaction in the classroom and the fun of talking about history, but my health is really poor. I will miss certain things, but it is time.”
Maple said he has been on four different chemotherapies, and he will start phase two of a clinical trial in January. Maple said if it was not for health reasons, he would probably continue to teach.
“I really enjoy it,” Maple said. “It’s hard to say. Living with cancer for 10 years, 41 radiation treatments, stem cell transplant, and I guess I’m on about my fourth chemo, it’s kind of hard to envision life without cancer now after 10 years of all that.”
Senior Turner Smith took classes with Maple and have him as his academic advisor. They have also worked together on Phi Alpha Theta. Smith said Maple goes above and beyond for his students.
“Dr. Maple is an incredibly hard worker,” Smith said. “He is brilliant, but on top of that, he actively works to cultivate that brilliance every day. He is also kind and caring. He treats every student with respect and dignity, and it is obvious how much he cares about our success.”
Maple said he had two main goals during his years of being a professor.
“One of the important things that I think that I have done is challenge students academically,” Maple said. “Shape them, push them to grow in terms of their ability to research, to write, to communicate. The other thing is to grow as Christians.”
Maple said he took a campaign to England and Scotland from 1987 to 2001, where he and the students helped small churches in the area.
“[We] put [together] primarily Bible camps,” Maple said. “That was good for me spiritually. British society is not a Christian society, [it] is very secular. Things that helped enrich, deepen the faith of those young people in England and Scotland was really important. But it ended up enriching and in deepening my faith and the faith of the OC students that I took as well.”
Smith said Maple has a great influence on his academic life.
“Dr. Maple has driven me to expect more of myself,” Smith said. “He has shown me that work ethic is everything and that I can constantly outdo myself if I can continue to work as hard as I possibly can. He has shown me that if I continue to do good work, that work will speak for itself and people with respect it.”
According to Maple working with the students was the best part of being a professor.
“The students do the work; I provide guidance,” Maple said. “I have enjoyed coming to work, interacting with students across the desk and teaching my classes. I hope that I have been an encouragement. I would like to think that I have been in my 43 years here, a man of integrity, Christian faith and excellent academics.”
Smith said he will miss Maple and his passion in the classroom.
“His excitement for things we discussed was always contagious,” Smith said. “He has always been passionate about helping us achieve our potential, and I’ll miss having his guidance and direction in the classroom.”