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Dr. Christopher Ohan '90 to receive Wesleyan flame Award at Alumni Medal Dinner

09.06.2022 | By: Texas Wesleyan University

Christopher Ohan ’90 started as a freshman at Texas Wesleyan College in fall 1986 as a political science major. Summer study abroad trips to both Mexico and England instilled in Chris a love for learning about the past. It was a trip to Italy while studying for his masters that kindled in him a passion for studying European history. After further trips throughout Italy and Latin America, he decided to focus his studies on the early Franciscan period—the 13th century. “I never knew I wanted to be a professional academic,” he said. “I loved learning and there’s no occupation better than being a student.  “Unfortunately,” he added, “it wasn’t well-paid position!” 

It was in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. that he received a call from his former Texas Wesleyan professor and mentor, Margaret Patoski. It was a week before the start of the term, and she needed someone to cover a US history and a Texas history class. He had never taught a class and he debated whether or not to accept. He sought the advice of another former Wesleyan professor, Tyree Franklin. “Mr. Franklin taught using fear and a death stare I always admired—you were either prepared for class or you dropped. I respected him greatly and valued his opinion. I stayed in contact with him after graduation and counted him a friend. If he thought I could do it, I would. He did and I did,” he said. “Learning and teaching are different things and I soon learned how little I actually knew,” he said. “But I loved it.” He remained as an adjunct at Wesleyan until 2001.  Despite his adjunct status, Chris organized and lead 5-week summer study trips to Russia, Italy, and Mexico; 5 trips in all between 1998 and 2001. 

After completing his Ph.D. in 1997, he was offered a full-time position in the honors program at TCU, but moved to Russia in 2001 as a Senior Fulbright Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.  He spent nearly three years there teaching and gathering life histories which focused on the end of the Soviet period. In 2006 he took at position at the newly opened American University of Kuwait where he served as Chair of the International Relations Program and, eventually, became the Dean of Social Sciences. Passionate about working with students, he led Model United Nations (MUN) and study abroad trips to Bahrain, UAE, Berlin, London, and the US.  In 2008 he participated in an NEH Summer Institute in Italy on the early Franciscan movement. That experience resulted in his most recent publications—a chapter titled “‘You are simple and stupid:’ Francis of Assisi and the rise of merchant capitalism,” and another chapter titled “Reconsidering Francis’ Encounter with the Sultan during the Fifth Crusade.”

Having visited almost every country in the region, including Iran, he found his way back to Texas Wesleyan in 2014. Those nearly 14 years of living abroad were an education unto themselves. Teaching students from different areas, cultures and religions served to emphasize the importance of history in making sense of the world. He likes that his global education informs the way he interacts with and helps students learn as an Associate Professor of History and Faculty Advisor for the Sumner Scholars Program.

Help us celebrate Chris and the global perspective he brings to Texas Wesleyan at the Alumni Medal Dinner on Friday, Nov. 4, in the Martin University Center.

About the Alumni Medal Dinner

Each year, Texas Wesleyan University honors distinguished alumni and friends. Their achievements and contributions are amazing reflections of the University, and we are honored to celebrate and recognize them each year.

The Alumni Medal Dinner is at the Martin University Center on campus on Friday, Nov. 4. The reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and program at 7 p.m.

The event is open to all alumni, friends and faculty and staff, and tickets are $65 per person. Register online by Oct. 31

For questions, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 817-531-6548 or alumni@txwes.edu.

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At Texas Wesleyan, we have a rich history and a Texas-sized reputation. As stewards of the University, it is our responsibility to build a future as bright as our past.