Comments and Questions from Listening Session with Bruce

Philosophy Department

Did you anticipate this budget trauma when you accepted the job? How are you dealing with it personally?

We appreciate the transparency we feel from your communications.

We were surprised and impressed by the decision on the football team.

We are fortunate to have as a resource the “Philosophical Gourmet Report” which ranks graduate philosophy departments worldwide every couple of years.

NYU, Rutgers and Princeton are the three top schools: we send students to graduate study in these schools and ourmost recentthree hires have come from these programs. Though the PGR doesn’t rank undergraduate programs per se, WWU will be listed among the top 5 or 6 undergraduate only departments nationwide when the 2008-2010 edition is published in February 2009. We are HUGELY PROUD.

The department has about 75 majors. Adding in the joint degree with Poli Sci and Econ, we have about 115.

Which of your publications make you most proud?

The Bellingham Summer Philosophy Conference is in its 10th year. We invite up to a dozen papers from Assistant and Associate professors worldwide and select 50 people to participate in some capacity or other at this intensive, 5-day workshop. Each participant reads all the papers in advanceand engages in intense philosophical discussion. Several stay on for a while. This has resulted in an ongoing collaboration with Philosophical Studies, one of the very best journals in our discipline, which for several years now has devoted one issue per year to the best papers out of the conference. We involve our very best students and grad students in supportive roles. Here is a website for the conference: http://myweb.facstaff.wwu.edu/wasserr/BSPC/bspc_2009.htm

Students have their own conference, now in its 7th year that mimics the summer conference. Featuring 10 or so papers selected from 50 or more submissions; it brings undergrads to Western from all over the country.Here is a website for the conference: http://myweb.students.wwu.edu/stewars5/conference2009.html

We have really built a strong undergrad scholarship culture. Faculty and students participate in informal weekly gatherings under the auspices of the philosophy club.

Following up on writing comment – we’re believers in value of core liberal arts education. In a study of starting salaries by major and 10 years later, noted that English had lowest starting salary, but the highest 10 years later. So with budget cuts, I hope no one thinks WWU should become a trade school.

Must be hard to make some of these budget decisions with so many acting administrators. Dean Carbajal is wonderful. He has a leadership style that brings us together without substituting his judgment. Runs meetings very well.

What chance do you think we have of seeing aRIF at Western?

Have been asked to submit grant application to the Templeton Foundation, which recently revised process and now will fund fewer, bigger projects and raise the level of invited submissions. Our idea would bring in 6-7 people for an institute for advanced studies in philosophy and religion.

There is very little grant money for philosophy, so we haven’t really experienced the university policies concerning whether release time can be accommodated or whether writing grant proposals counts for merit.

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Page Updated 11.27.2013