June 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

Two World Religion Students Get Weckman Prizes

George Weckman

George Weckman. Photo by Kayla Hoffman

By Jennifer (Shutt) Bowie

In 1968, Dr. George Weckman became an assistant professor in Ohio University’s Department of Philosophy. This spring semester, some 45 years later, two undergraduate students were recognized with special prizes that honors Weckman’s years of teaching in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Weckman was instrumental in the creation of Ohio University’s world religions program, which joined the Classics Department in 2003 to become the Department of Classics and World Religions. He became an Associate Professor Emeritus in 2004 and recently completed a term as president of the University’s Emeriti Association. He fully retired from teaching in 2012.

In 2009, in honor of Weckman’s 40+ years of service, his colleagues established the George Weckman Prize in World Religions through the Ohio University Foundation.

Mary Norton after the Seventh Annual Undergraduate History

Mary Norton after the Seventh Annual Undergraduate History Conference, in April.

The cash prize, which recognizes outstanding academic achievement by world religions majors, is inspiring students such as Mary Norton ’14, a senior from Cincinnati who is triple majoring in English, history and world religions.

“I was really excited to find out I was receiving this award,” said Norton. “As a working student who pays most of my way on my own, every scholarship, grant, and award is an immense help.

“It’s also always exciting to know that my hard work isn’t being overlooked. All the late nights and caffeine overdoses mean a little bit more if they earn me more than just good grades. It shows that these professors don’t think of us just as a number…. They see how much work we put into everything we do,” she said.

Norton’s training in the Department of Classics and World Religions has helped her to succeed in all three of her majors. “I try my best to use all of the critical reading skills I’ve developed in this department,” she said. “I also love to be involved in all of my classes and try to participate frequently in class discussions and debates.”

Rebecca Romano visits the Coliseum in Rome.

Rebecca Romano visits the Coliseum in Rome.

Recipient Rebecca Romano ’14, a senior from Maumee, OH, with a double major in English and world religions, said “I began my education in world religions by taking the Difficult Dialogue courses during my freshman year. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to become a world religions major.”

The Difficult Dialogue initiative encourages constructive dialogue about contentious political, religious, racial and cultural issues. Since that introduction, Romano has taken a variety of religions courses. “I’m very lucky and thankful to have had such intelligent and inspiring teachers,” she said. “I was honored to receive this prize and am very grateful that my hard work and dedication has been acknowledged and rewarded. The financial aid this prize gives me is invaluable… as it allows me to further my studies in a major that is significant to both my life and future career path.”

During his career at Ohio University, Weckman taught introduction to religion courses as well as the Philosophy of Religion, Old Testament, New Testament, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Writing on Religion, Myth and Symbolism, and thinking about death.

“George has completely retired from teaching now, but he remains a presence in the life of the department,” said Dr. William Owens, Associate Professor and Chair of Classics and World Religions. “We continue to regard him as a founder of this program—one who is still present and involved in a supportive capacity. For that we are, and will continue to be, grateful.”

To make a gift to the Weckman Prize, contact the Ohio University Foundation at 800-592-3863 or Checks may be made payable to The Ohio University Foundation (be sure to write “Weckman Prize” in the notes section) and sent to the foundation at P.O. Box 869, Athens, OH 45701. Gifts also can be made online at


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