In Brief: More News From the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Graduating seniors after the philosophy and religious studies ceremony on May 11, 2019

Student Honors

Our students do us proud. Among the 22 seniors who completed their degrees in departmental programs during the 2018/19 academic year, four students graduated summa cum laude, six graduated magna cum laude and four graduated cum laude. In addition, eleven graduated with two or more majors and seven graduated with minors.

Elizabeth M. Ingram, who graduated in December 2018 with a B.A. in Philosophy with a Concentration in Ethics, won the International Neuroethics Society Award for her essay “Personhood: Projection or Perception?” Elizabeth based her essay on work she did in Dr. Veljko Dubljevic’s course on Neuroscience & Philosophy in Spring 2018. The essay was published online by the Dana Foundation. Read it here.

Harrison Payne, who won the Philosophy Prize in Honor of Professor Robert S. Bryan in Spring 2018 and graduated in December 2018 with a B.S. in Philosophy, a B.S. in Physics and a B.S. in Mathematics, was admitted to four prestigious Ph.D. programs in Philosophy with full funding for six years. He has accepted an offer from the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of History & Philosophy of Science, where he will be starting his graduate studies in Fall 2019. He plans to specialize in the philosophy of physics.

Victor Eduardo, who graduated in May 2019 with a B.A. in Philosophy, was one of only five NC State graduating seniors to receive a Mathews Medal. The medal, which recognizes seniors who have made significant contributions to the university and created a lasting legacy, is the highest non-academic distinction awarded to NC State students. Victor received the award for outstanding work in support of first-year students and the queer community on campus as a Resident Mentor, Orientation Leader, DEPTH Peer Educator and volunteer at the GLBT Center.

Faculty Newsbites

The department appointed two new part-time faculty members in Fall 2018: Amy Glaser in philosophy and Yasmine Singh in religious studies. Glaser completed the Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in summer 2018 with a dissertation on the rights of children; Singh completed the Ph.D. in Religious Studies at Duke University in June 2019 with a dissertation on contemporary Hinduism in rural India. Both Glaser and Singh have been given new contracts for 2019/20.

Jason C. Bivins, professor of religious studies, received a scholarly reassignment for Spring 2019 to work on a book manuscript on religious discontent with American politics. Read more.

Catherine M. Driscoll, associate professor of philosophy, has been approved for promotion to professor in Fall 2019. With a Ph.D. from Rutgers, Driscoll is a philosopher of science whose research focuses on the evolutionary social sciences.

Anna B. Bigelow, associate professor of religious studies, resigned at the end of Spring 2019 to take up a position at Stanford University. Bigelow, who has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, works on Islam and contemporary inter-religious interactions in South Asia and the Middle East.

In Memoriam

Christine M. Pierce, emeritus professor of philosophy, died on July 12, 2018 at the age of 77. After serving the department as a visiting associate professor in 1982/83, Pierce returned as a permanent associate professor in 1984. She was promoted to professor in 1994 and retired in January 2014. Pierce taught departmental courses on ethics, business ethics, contemporary moral issues, philosophy & feminism and history of ethics, as well as courses in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS). She published articles on ethics, feminism and gay issues in numerous academic journals, a collection of essays, Immovable Laws, Irresistible Rights: Natural Law, Moral Rights, and Feminist Ethics, and co-edited three books—two on environmental ethics and one on AIDS—with her departmental colleague Don VanDeVeer. A strong advocate for women, gays and lesbians at NC State, Pierce served as Director of the WGS Program in 2002-2004 and 2007-2011.

William Lawrence (Larry) Highfill, emeritus associate professor of religious studies, died on November 28, 2018 at the age of 97. He was appointed to NC State as an assistant professor in 1956, was promoted to associate professor in 1962 and retired in 1986. A specialist in Asian religions, especially Buddhism, Highfill taught courses in World Religions, Hinduism & Buddhism and Religion & Ethics. As President of the NC State chapter of the American Association of University Professors, he had to deal with the state legislature’s June 1963 decision to ban known communists and others regarded as subversive from speaking on state university campuses. With Highfill’s support, the national AAUP responded with lengthy televised testimony, and resolutions that the “freedom to hear” was “an inseparable part of academic freedom.” The ban was ended by a judge’s order in 1968. In his retirement, Highfill traveled extensively and assisted in the founding (and served on the board) of the Emmaus House, a transitional home for men in downtown Raleigh who were formerly homeless, incarcerated or struggling with substance abuse.

Robert S. Bryan, emeritus professor of philosophy and head of the department from 1966 until 1989, died in Raleigh on March 2, 2019. He was 93. Read more.

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