Pacific University Philosophy Department
Alumni Newsletter #13
HELLO, PHILOSOPHY ALUMS! We hope this spring finds you well. We’re back with another of our annual newsletters just to fill you in on what’s been going on with the Philosophy Department here at Pacific. As far as general Pacific University news, probably the biggest change this year was the establishment of a new College of Business, which will start up as a separate unit on campus this coming fall. So, the university will now be made up of five colleges: Arts & Sciences, Optometry, Education, Health Professions, and Business. The undergrad A&S college is now almost exactly ½ of the student population, with the other half being students in all the other colleges.
FOR THE PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT, it has been a good year. With David DeMoss now a full-time administrator, Dave Boersema stepping into the role of director of Pacific’s new peace center, Ramona Ilea on sabbatical for the year, and the arrival of our newest full-time faculty member, Katharine Loevy, the department looked quite a bit different than it has in the past few years. We had two adjunct faculty this year, Chad Wiener and Dylan Dodd. Both taught full-time, but their appointments were temporary. Chad will return for one more year next year, but Dylan’s job was only a one-year position.
IN MAY 2013 we had seven graduating philosophy majors. They are: Ben Brewer, Jackie Burgett, Marc Moody, Joel Morrow, Liz Quimby, Megan Ujakovich-Gometz, and Geran Wales.
Philosophy Department faculty and seniors. (From left to right: Chad Wiener, Ben Brewer, Liz Quimby, Adam Arola [former adjunct faculty], Ramona Ilea, Dave Boersema, Megan Ujakovich-Gometz, Katharine Loevy. Not pictured: Joel Morrow, Garen Wales, Marc Moody, Jackie Burgett)
OUR OUTSTANDING SENIOR in Philosophy award went to Ben Brewer, who also was selected as the Outstanding Senior in Humanities. Faculty from across the college have remarked on Ben as being simply superb! He is headed off to the University of Oregon in the fall to pursue his graduate degree. His senior thesis was entitled, “Unsaying Nonknowledge: George’s Bataille and the Mysticism of Writing.” Ben had this to say:
“When I came to Pacific four years ago, I planned to be a literature major. A few weeks into my first philosophy class (Ethics and Society with Ramona) I had decided on a double major in lit and philosophy. By the end of that term, I had dropped the lit major. I immediately found that many of the questions that had drawn me to literature were being explored and posed in philosophy without so much distraction. I was hooked.
Since then, my time at Pacific has been replete with an unbelievable amount of personal attention from professors, particularly in the philosophy department. I have had the honor of serving as the research assistant for the department for all four of my years here, and the incredible undergraduate conference has allowed me to meet other students with similar academic interests from around the world.
In the fall, I will be attending University of Oregon’s graduate program for philosophy. I plan to complete a master’s in philosophy at Oregon and to continue on to a doctorate, specializing in continental philosophy. The department has supported me and encouraged me far above and beyond any “obligation” they might have to help students planning to attend graduate school. Overall, the department has proven to be exactly what I wanted from my undergraduate years—personal, challenging, engaging, caring, and supportive.
Schelling said in his Erlanger lectures that “philosophy is fundamentally a free act of spirit; its first step is not a knowing, but is better expressed as a not-knowing, a giving up of all human knowledge” (it would be a shame not to note that these lectures are not published in English—the only reason I have access to them is because one of my first Pacific philosophy professors, Adam Arola, gave me an unpublished translation he has been working on for a paper I wrote this year. Talk about above and beyond). My time at Pacific has taught me to take these words to heart: philosophy may not offer much in the way of know-how, but it can certainly open one’s mind to questions and journeys it would have otherwise never undertaken. In other words, it teaches the meaning of Socrates’ insistence that he knew nothing. For this, and so much more, I am grateful and proud to have participated in the philosophy department here at Pacific. You guys are awesome, in the strictest sense of the word.”
A FEW YEARS AGO we started a new tradition for this newsletter, asking an alum to contribute a few comments. This year Ted Etten (graduated 1988) had this to say:
“I graduated from Pacific with a major in Philosophy in 1988. When I arrived at Pacific, philosophy wasn’t going to be my focus of study. It wasn’t until I took an ethics course from Miles Shishido that I was hooked. Then, with the arrival of David Boersema on campus, my need to question and analyze blossomed. Classical philosophy was great, but it was philosophy of science and medical ethics that caught my attention. Beginning to apply logical formulas to just about everything and working truth tables with Professor Boersema became a pastime. Social and political philosophy was a great way to finish a well-rounded philosophical study at Pacific.
After leaving the Grove, I went to Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ where I earned a Master in Arts in Teaching. I earned my degree through the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children. This is a fantastic program that introduces basic reasoning, problem solving skills and philosophical concepts to children in a school setting. As a teacher, one’s goal is to create a community of inquiry within the classroom and connect a child’s experiences to good reasoning and philosophy.
Upon finishing college, I returned to Washington State. Unfortunately, my New Jersey teaching certificate was not accepted in Washington and teaching in the classroom did not become a reality. I worked for eight years with developmentally disabled adults transitioning from institutional living to community living. For the past 14 years I have worked as a social worker for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. My focus has been working with families to become self-sufficient and assisting disabled individuals with accessing disability benefits through Social Security Series.
My philosophy education at Pacific plays a daily role in my success professionally. What I learned at Pacific allows me to efficiently understand and apply policies and procedures for administering state programs. My study at Pacific allowed me to develop analytical skills necessary to anticipate needed program outcomes. I work in an environment that addresses social and ethical issues at the most basic human levels. Philosophical study at Pacific gave me the basic knowledge and ability to recognize these issues and discuss their implications with staff. The philosophical skills I acquired at Pacific help me to make a daily difference in the lives of others in need.
Above all else, my time at Pacific University provided me with memories and relationships that will last a lifetime. My experience with philosophy at Pacific did not give me tools to show myself or others how much I know; it allowed me to begin to understand how much I do not know. For that, I will be eternally grateful.”
AS USUAL the faculty have been very busy again. This year, Ramona was on a full year sabbatical. She has been busy co-editing an edited anthology: Consequentialism and Environmental Ethics, under contract with Routledge Press. Another big project she undertook was creating (with two other philosophers) a web site for civic engagement in philosophy classes, a project funded by a grant they received from the American Philosophical Association. She also worked on two articles: one on the concept of sympathy and the other on the intersection of Tom Regan’s rights theory and Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities approach. She also did ten conference presentations at various local and national conferences. She especially enjoyed giving the keynote speech at the Minnesota Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. Although she has been working hard – starting to write at 6:30 A.M almost every day – she also had time to work out, cook, make crafts, watch a lot of movies, and visit her family in Romania and Canada. The sabbatical has been extremely productive and super fun. But she really misses teaching and interacting with students, so she can’t wait to return to teaching full time in the fall.
Katharine joined the faculty at Pacific this year after completing an MA in religion at Vanderbilt University in August (she received her PhD from Vanderbilt in 2009). In addition to settling into full-time teaching, Katharine is scheduled to present work at several conferences this year. At the annual meeting of the Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary world, Katharine will be presenting an essay on a medieval Islamic text in which the animals take the human beings to court for mistreatment. She will present a study on Emmanuel Levinas’s animal metaphors to PhiloSOPHIA: A Continental Feminist Society, with whom she is also an executive committee member. Finally, Katharine will present a paper on Levinas and animals at the annual conference of the Levinas Research Seminar this April in New York City. The latter two presentations represent work that Katharine hopes will result in a book on Levinas and animals within the next few years. In 2012 Katharine published an article on Levinas and the biblical binding of Isaac in the journal Epoche. Katharine has also submitted a book chapter discussing Levinas and animals in relation to the acts of compassion that we find in the Buddhist Jataka Tales. This chapter is part of a collection of essays on animals and comparative philosophy. If all goes well, the book should come out by the end of 2013 (fingers crossed). Katharine is thrilled to be teaching at Pacific University, and has greatly enjoyed her students in FYS, Philosophy of Art, Intro, and in all her courses in the history of philosophy. She has had a wonderful experience supervising a capstone thesis and running a weekly tutorial for students interested in learning Arabic. Katharine looks forward to her classes for next year and to becoming the faculty participant in the Pacific University Philosophy Club.
Dave Boersema once again bumbled through another year, in his usual state of bewilderment and confusion. Professionally, he continued his editorial duties for the online journal, Essays in Philosophy, as well as serving as book review editor for the journal Teaching Philosophy. Dave also continued in his capacity as the executive director of the group Concerned Philosophers for Peace and chaired a session as the CPP annual meeting. His latest book, Philosophy of Art: Aesthetic Theory and Practice (Westview Press), was published at the end of 2012. He had an article entitled “Philosophy and Philosophers in the 1920s” appear in the book The Twenties in America. In addition, he was asked to write a paper (“Negotiation and Regulation: Eco on Knowing”) to be published in late 2013, on the epistemology of Umberto Eco for a volume as part of the Library of Living Philosophers series. Finally, Dave was a paper commentator at a session on philosophy of law at the American Philosophical Association meeting in San Francisco in March. Most of Dave’s time this past year, however, was spent in his role as director of Pacific’s new peace center. As part of that, Dave brought Arun Gandhi (grandson of Mahatma Gandhi) to campus for a lecture in February.
THE 17TH ANNUAL Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy conference was another big success. This year once again we had more than a hundred thirty students in attendance and almost 100 papers being presented. These students came from more than 50 different schools, representing 22 different states, as well as a number of Canadian schools. Also, a student came all the way from Brazil to present a paper at the conference! This year’s keynote speaker was Peter Kivy, from Rutgers University. He is well known among professional philosophers, particularly in the area of philosophy of art. His keynote talk was entitled “Facts from Fictions” Details of the conference are on our department web page (http://www.pacificu.edu/as/philosophy/conference/schedule.cfm).
Peter Kivy (center) speaking to conference participants
We trust that you have had a good year. If you get a chance drop us a note or an email, tell us what you are up to these days.
Philosophy department web site: http://www.pacificu.edu/as/philosophy/
Also, we now have a Philosophy Department alumni page on Facebook at:
If you are on Facebook, “like” us and let us know what’s up!
Dept. of Philosophy, Pacific University, 2043 College Way, Forest Grove, OR 97116
Dave Boersema: firstname.lastname@example.org 503 352 2150
David DeMoss: email@example.com 503 352 2813
Ramona Ilea: firstname.lastname@example.org 503 352 2760
Katharine Loevy: email@example.com 503 352 2124
Chad Wiener: firstname.lastname@example.org 503 352 1547