Friday, March 28, 2008


Since it is now "public" news, let me be the first to offer my congratulations to the Penn State Philosophy Department for comepleting what will surely go down in the history books as the single greatest faculty-recruiting season EVER. My (Ph.D.) alma mater came down South and poached my other (B.A.) alma mater, and now eminent philosophers Len Lawlor and Robert Bernasconi are officially beings-toward-Happy-Valley. (Penn State also got another UMemphis alum in Katheryn Gines, but they stole her away from our other Tennessee powerhouse, Vandy.) These hires would be a major coup for any philosophy department in any year, but given the troubles of Penn State over the last several years, this is a particularly impresive show of resolve and dedication to that department's rebuilding efforts. Kudos to department Head Shannon Sullivan-- full disclosure: Shannon was also my dissertation director-- who has in just three short years implemented every imaginable mechanism to demonstrate that Penn State is rebuilding.

Correction: Penn State is now "rebuilt." Q.E.D.

I am, of course, ambivalent about this recent tidal wave of change. On the one hand, I have "Penn State" permanently attached to my name and to my doctorate, so I am personally invested in that program remaining strong. On the other hand, I am also now living and working in Memphis and am extremely sad to lose what amounts to about 50% of the population of senior Continental philosophers in this town. To be honest, I've also got a little bit of ressentiment going on... why couldn't this have happened 3 or 4 years ago, when I was there? Argh.

Many of you, over the last several years, have heard me raise much Sturm und Drang about the practice of (especially Continental) graduate programs "feeding" on one another... and that rant is coming again in the next post. But, for now, I don't want to sully the festivities. Congratulations to Robert, Len and Katheryn for making what must have been a difficult, but sure to be rewarding, decision! And congrats to the Penn Staters, now and to-come, who will no doubt only be confirmed and reconfirmed in the wisdom of their decisions.

1 comment:

Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

Without having your personal connection to either schools, I also had mixed feelings about the way Penn State recovered (I'm glad to see it back but wish continental schools weren't so conservative that the only way they think they can improve is by getting one another's big names). Leaving that aside, I was more disgusted to see that the Leiter Reports reported the story as "Penn State recovers by plundering Memphis." A true enough headline, but written in a way which answers the question why some of us think the bias against continental philosophy (even by so-called "continental philosophers") is alive and well.