Stuart Stelzer, who has led the University of the Ozarks’ library services for the past 39 years, has announced that he will retire on June 30, 2022.
Shortly after earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, Stelzer joined Ozarks in May of 1983, at the time of President Dr. Fritz Ehren’s inauguration.
Stelzer received the University’s Alvin C. Broyles Outstanding Staff Award in both 1993 and 1997 and was selected by the senior class to give the keynote address at the Spring 1999 Commencement ceremony.
Stelzer said there are some maxims he has “gleaned from Robson Library books and valued enough to have engraved in stone.” Those include:
“We take into eternity only what we give.”
“This world is a bridge: Cross over on it, but do not build upon it.”
“The night is over before we have finished counting the stars.”
Stelzer served as the director of the University’s Dobson Memorial Library, in what is now the Mabee Administration Building, from 1983 until Robson Library was built in 1996. He has served as the director of Robson Library for the past 26 years.
Stelzer called the transition to Robson Library “a strenuous mercy.”
Dr. David Daily, professor of religion, remembers first meeting Stelzer when Daily was interviewing for a teaching position at Ozarks in 1999.
“I realized then that if Ozarks was anything at all like Stuart, then it was a place that I wanted to be,” Daily said. “Every conversation with him is an adventure. Each time he and I talk, I come away astonished not only by how much he knows, but especially by his ability, in a single question, to upend every facile assumption I have ever made about a subject. There is no telling how many student research papers and senior projects owe their success to his advice and guidance over the years. Stuart is also a dear friend who made the library a welcoming place for my noisy children and who taught me the joy that comes from simple things like being able to walk to work. ‘We are all beings of light,’ he often says, and the fact that he has treated each person at Ozarks as a being of light has made him a gift to us all.”
Dr. Amy Oatis, associate professor of English, said Stelzer’s impact at Ozarks has been “far-reaching.”
“Just today in class, I told my students that we are fortunate to have such an incredible library staff, as both Doug [Denne] and Stuart work hard to help our students and faculty access the materials they need to learn and grow as scholars and thinkers,” Oatis said. “Stuart has been the architect of our library as a center of learning on campus. He knows the collection, book by book, and delights in the opportunity to walk with someone through the collection to look for the best materials for a particular project. What I love about Stuart is his sense of delight and wonder at all of the opportunities for learning present in a library. He recognizes the richness and diversity of sharing ideas through reading, and he loves to share that with other people. Stuart asks playful and probing questions to help other people find the best resources to answer their own questions.”
Dr. David Strain, professor of English, called Stelzer “the beating heart of this campus,” for the past three decades.
“Breathtaking in the breadth and depth of his learning, humble and charitable in all his ways, he is, above all, an upright man,” Strain said. “There is no condemnation more severe than Stuart Stelzer’s silent disapproval. When the college moved into what some of us still think of as the ‘new library,’ the old library became the administration building. And what has once been Stuart’s office became the president’s office. So it was that the space since occupied by the most powerful person on campus had once belonged to the most important. We won’t see his like again.”
Oatis said she has worked with Stelzer not only as a professor but also as a student working on her Ph.D. She said he was instrumental in helping her complete her Ph.D. as well as with her work on conference presentations and articles.
“Stuart has been my supporter and guide, making sure that my students and I have access to all the materials that we could ever want, so that we can do our best thinking,” she said. “I can’t imagine Ozarks without Stuart. He is truly one of our greatest resources, and he has selflessly shared his books, his knowledge, and his time with all of us. He also is a person of the highest integrity, living out his spirituality and his concerns for the environment by walking and conserving resources. We are so lucky to have him on campus, and I hope that he continues to explore the richness of the world and find delight in reading in his retirement.”
Stelzer said his plans in retirement are “to learn, to serve, and to grow.”