Robert S. Bryan, an emeritus professor of philosophy and former head of the department of philosophy and religion at NC State University, died in Raleigh on March 2, 2019. He was 93.
Bob Bryan earned the Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Virginia in 1957 and served as a member of the faculty at Thiel College in 1958–1965 and Wright State University in 1965/66. He was appointed as professor of philosophy and head of the department of philosophy and religion at NC State in 1966.
When he arrived, the department had a faculty of five or six and offered a big, multi-section course called Marriage and Family Living. Bryan dropped it, despite his devotion to his own marriage and family, and started hiring Ph.D.s from the top graduate programs to teach rigorous courses in philosophy and religious studies. Many of those whom he appointed developed significant scholarly reputations.
At the same time, Bryan oversaw the expansion and strengthening of the department’s curriculum, the introduction of a B.A. in Philosophy with a Concentration in Religious Studies, a B.A. in Philosophy with a Concentration in Philosophy of Law and minors in Philosophy and Religious Studies. He was an excellent teacher of philosophy and was inducted into NC State’s Academy of Outstanding Teachers.
Bryan also took an active interest in broader university affairs. During his career at NC State, he was a member of many committees, including the Chancellor’s Honors Council, and he served as chair of the University Committee on Courses and Curricula and the Athletics Council. He enthusiastically chaired a committee to apply for a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. The University was granted a charter shortly after he retired. In 1997 the Society of Phi Beta Kappa presented him with a certificate “in grateful recognition of his services in improving the climate for the liberal arts at North Carolina State University and in securing Zeta Chapter,” the chapter at NC State.
In 1989, Bryan retired from NC State after twenty-three years of distinguished university service and departmental leadership. He had built up an outstanding undergraduate department with about eighteen permanent faculty and a remarkably congenial atmosphere.
Bryan spent his lengthy retirement enjoying his family, reading, writing, rooting for the Wolfpack and playing tennis as long as he could. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Geraldine, three sons and their wives and five grandchildren.