Looking Back: Department News from the Past

The D.H. Hill Library and the Brickyard

The present and the future are rooted in the past. This column features some news of the NC State Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies from the past fifty years.

1969/70: A record 1,508 students enroll in the department’s courses during the regular academic year, an increase from 1,323 in 1968/69. The number of students with a declared major in philosophy increases from 22 to 28. After a year as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois, A. Donald VandeVeer (Ph.D., Chicago) is appointed as assistant professor of philosophy at NC State in 1969. He is promoted to associate professor in 1974 and professor in 1980. He retires in July 2000. During his 31 years in the department, he teaches over 5,000 students in 179 course sections.

1979/80: Departmental faculty publish 12 articles in journals and books. A further 13 of their articles are forthcoming. Tom Regan (Ph.D., Virginia), professor of philosophy, publishes an edited volume on Matters of Life and Death (Temple University Press and Random House Paperbacks, 1980). Visiting speakers include William Frankena (University of Michigan), Paul Ricoeur (University of Chicago and National Humanities Center), Peter Singer (Monash University and Woodrow Wilson Center) and Paul Ziff (UNC Chapel Hill). The department hosts the annual conference of the North Carolina Philosophical Society.

1989/90: Edwin A. Martin (Ph.D., MIT), formerly of Indiana University, is appointed as professor of philosophy and department head in Fall 1989. He replaces Robert S. Bryan, who retired in Summer 1989 after 23 years as department head. Martin continues as head until 1995 and then moves on to a position at Rutgers. Louise M. Antony (Ph.D., Harvard), associate professor of philosophy, has a fellowship at the National Humanities Center and James VanderKam (Ph.D., Harvard), professor of religion, has a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. William Adler (Ph.D., Pennsylvania), assistant professor of religion, publishes Time Immemorial: Archaic History and its Sources in Christian Chronography from Julius Africanus to George Syncellus (Dumbarton Oaks, 1989); William R. Carter (Ph.D., Virginia), professor of philosophy, publishes The Elements of Metaphysics (Temple University Press/McGraw Hill, 1989); and David F. Austin (Ph.D., Massachusetts), associate professor of philosophy, publishes What is the Meaning of “This”? A Puzzle about Demonstrative Belief (Cornell University Press, 1990).

1999/2000: Harold D. Levin (Ph.D., MIT), associate professor of philosophy, is appointed as interim head of department in Fall 1999 after Tom Regan steps down as head. Levin continues as interim head until Summer 2003, when he begins a three-year phased retirement. Natalie Dohrmann (Ph.D., Chicago), previously an instructor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, is appointed as assistant professor of religious studies. She resigns in 2003 to take up a position at the University of Pennsylvania. The department undertakes an exhaustive self-study in Fall 1999 under the direction of John Carroll (Ph.D., Arizona), associate professor of philosophy and assistant head of the department. In addition to preparing the way for an external review in Spring 2000, this self-study results in several improvements to the department’s programs. Douglas M. Jesseph (Ph.D., Princeton), associate professor of philosophy, publishes Squaring the Circle: The War between Hobbes and Wallace (University of Chicago Press, 1999). Jesseph also receives a grant from the National Science Foundation for 1999–2002 to support the editing of three volumes of Hobbes’s mathematical works.

2009/10: The name of the department is changed from Philosophy and Religion to Philosophy and Religious Studies in order to emphasize that it provides a home to two independent disciplines, each with its own faculty and programs. The Logic and Cognitive Science Initiative (LACSI) hosts its first biennial conference in September 2009. The topic on this occasion is Ontology. Visiting speakers include Rüdiger Bitner (Bielefeld), Ruth Chang (Rutgers) and Kit Fine (NYU) in philosophy; and Bart Ehrman (UNC Chapel Hill), Kathryn Lofton (Yale) and Michael Stone (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) in religious studies. Anna B. Bigelow (Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara), assistant professor of religious studies, publishes Sharing the Sacred: Practicing Pluralism in Muslim North India (Oxford University Press, 2010); and Tony K. Stewart (Ph.D., Chicago), professor of religious studies, publishes The Final Word: the Caitanya Caritamrta and the Grammar of Religious Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2010).

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