David F. Austin (Ph.D., Massachusetts), associate professor of philosophy, is retiring in Summer 2022 after 39 years of service as a faculty member in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. He was appointed at NC State as an instructor in philosophy in Fall 1983 and became an assistant professor on completing his Ph.D. in 1985. He was promoted to the rank of associate professor in 1989; he served as assistant head of the department in 1993-1997; and he was associate head of the department (the same position with a new name) from 2012 to 2022.
A specialist in the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind and the history of analytic philosophy, Austin also has expertise in several other subfields of philosophy. During his time at NC State, he published a monograph entitled What is the Meaning of “This”? A Puzzle about Demonstrative Belief (Cornell University Press, 1990), an edited book and a number of articles and chapters. He also gave many scholarly presentations, reviewed numerous submitted articles for journals and conducted extensive research related to teaching and academic practices for the benefit of our department or to guide his own teaching or administrative work.
Austin always had a very heavy teaching load at NC State. Over the years, he taught approximately 19,000 students in PHI 340, Philosophy of Science, the vast majority of them from STEM disciplines. This course helped to recruit many students to the major in philosophy. He also taught several other courses for the department at various times, including Introduction to Philosophy, Contemporary Moral Issues, History of Analytic Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Ethics and Data Ethics—an important new course that he designed and introduced in 2021.
Austin made major contributions to the department, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and NC State in the area of administration and service. As assistant or associate head of the department for fourteen years, he managed the department’s course and curriculum developments, program assessment and other aspects of its academic operations. He also served very effectively on a number of college and university committees, including the college’s graduate committee, its information technology committee, its research committee and its undergraduate committee (on which he was chair for course and curricular actions for eight years); and the university’s harassment education and outreach committee, its research committee and its council on undergraduate education.
Austin has been appointed associate professor emeritus in recognition of his contributions to NC State. We wish him a rich and rewarding retirement.