Studying at Oberlin College in the late 1950s, Owen Cramer initially planned a career in chemistry. However, he was quickly encouraged to pursue passions in other areas — namely, the classics. The world has changed in innumerable ways since that time, but at CC, Cramer has been a constant for generations of students, staff, and fellow faculty.
Arriving at Colorado College in 1965 — 50 years ago this year — he has served on committees, chaired and directed departments and programs, and helped create and develop the Block Plan. Described as “a maverick” by his fellow classics professor Marcia Dobson, Cramer has compiled a résumé of continued service and scholarship that represents a touchstone for all members of this community.
Completing his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, Cramer joined a Colorado College that was devoid of the Greek and Latin programs that had been a main focus of the college’s early curriculum. Seeking to re-establish their prominence within the growing liberal arts curriculum of the college, Cramer operated as a one-man department for years. He shared space with other professors, and his early classes were cross-listed with the History Department.
By the ’70s, Cramer was managing up to 36 students at a time in a combination of regular block and independent-study courses. Hiring Dobson helped immensely, and since then the two of them have led and grown the classics at Colorado College greatly, structuring the major in the ’80s, and expanding the department with a third member.
Beyond Classics, Cramer also helped establish the Comparative Literature Department in 1993, and has chaired the Romance Languages and Spanish Departments. He also has been an active member of the Colorado Springs community since his arrival. He was an anti-Vietnam War organizer in the ’60s and volunteered as a draft counselor from 1967-1972. In the ’80s he reviewed classical music for the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper, and has for years sung tenor in the CC Choir. A lover of the outdoors and the local community, Cramer also serves with the Shooks Run Trail Friends, and has been listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the West.
Contributions by Kirk Woundy
Share your good wishes, anecdotes, and recollections about this wonderful member of our community!
If you have photos of Owen to share, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
12 Responses to Professor Owen Cramer
Congratulations on your achievement, Owen! Generations of Colorado College students are forever indebted to you for your tireless efforts to keep classical learning alive at CC. Thank you for your innumerable contributions to our community.
Thanks for your guidance and inspiration Dr. Cramer. I wouldn’t be where I am now without your help.
As a poor starving undergraduate I had to purchase a hard bound Plato Collected Dialogues for one of Owen’s classes. It was quite an investment at the time, but 40 years later it has traveled around the world several times with me and is front and centre on my book shelf, right here, I just pulled it out. It has survived many purges as books, particularly hard bound, are expensive to ship. I think it has such value not only because it is Plato, but because I read it first under the watchful eye of Owen, and discussed it daily with a small group of peers when the block plan was new. Thank you Owen, you are well and truly a Classic!
Congratulations and thank you to Professor Owen Cramer! I had the double pleasure of singing tenor with you for four great years plus cobbling together a classics major with you. You were a joy to watch and listen to and learn from; I’m sure you are still. I thought of you just this week in a presentation on the challenges of typography, when I learned a new word: perispomeni!
Owen, you truly embody the interdisciplinary spirit of the liberal arts. As a student in your Introduction to Comparative Literature course, I saw you move seamlessly from discussing Don Quixote, to opining on changes in the Ph levels of soil in Mesopotamia. You taught me that–despite the names we give to different courses, majors, etc.–there are no confines on the pursuit of knowledge. Congratulations!
Let me quote another professor talking about Owen: “He’s amazing! One of those true geniuses you run into maybe a half-dozen times in your life. I mean, he’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know about…” (brief, thoughtful pause) “about EVERYTHING.”
So of course I had to take a class from him, and to my delight, it was true — every word. Owen’s a fantastic teacher, and was hands-down the most memorable prof at CC.
I’m one of those students you wouldn’t remember, but on whom you made an indelible impression. I was taking Latin, which I still find immensely applicable in my daily work. What really inspired me was your passion–not only for the material, but for learning, and life. Thank you for being such an energetic and inspiring presence!
Please know there are legions of former students who remember you with respect and fondness, acknowledging often the gifts you bestowed. While studying with you, I learned, and then forgot, how to chant ancient Greek, but remember that you helped me understand that this was a study equal to the sciences. More importantly however, I learned to question and explore with openness, enthusiasm, and expectation, always curious, always learning more, finding the value. This I retain, use, and pass on as I can. May this please you.
Dr. Owen Cramer,
I remember my very first Greek class with you in 1965. You were sitting on a desk in sandals, waiting for the door to be unlocked so we could all enter. Another professor, alas I’ve forgotten who, mistook you for a student and told you to wait for the professor to arrive. That situation was quickly corrected. I believe there were eleven of us who started that Greek journey, and by the end of our fourth year, four of us were meeting at your house, sipping sherry, as I recall, and reading Homer. That experience was one of the highlights of my academic life. It still is after thirty plus years in higher education. It was also quite a coincidence that when I moved to a small town in North Carolina, I met one of your relatives there.
Congratulations on your many years of making a difference in many of our lives!
I’m touched by these reminiscences–thanks to each and all of you. It has been a joy to work with you, all this time from Skip Clark’s 1965 Greek class through and beyond Juan Avila’s 2014 Homer class. It has been a privilege to grow up with CC students!
I want to thank Owen for making my time at CC. a memorable one. He is a great teacher and a wonderful person as well. I’ll never forget at my 25th reunion he was at our class dinner and remembered who I was. That meant a lot! I’m sorry I could not be there this past weekend to thank him in person. Take care and have a great 50 more years!
Owen was my FYE teacher back in 2000, and definitely created a memorable first experience heading into CC! He embodies the true spirit of Colorado College, challenging each and every student to THINK in ways we never knew possible! You are truly an amazing professor and educator, Owen. Cheers to you and congratulations on 50 years!!