One of the best moments of the academic year is graduation. Parents are beaming with pride as they see their children graduate. Students are full of satisfaction for having completed their studies and are excited about moving on to new projects and prospects. It is a chance for faculty to reflect with satisfaction on the year's work.
Even in the midst of the worst recession in years, we can be thankful for the students who take our classes, read difficult books, and enthusiastically engage with philosophical ideas. As in the past we held our departmental graduation reception at the lovely Urban Horticultural Center, and what looked like stormy weather seemed miraculously to clear up by the time the event began. I still had some papers to grade and reports to write, but I too had the feeling that the year was coming to an end and summer was about to begin.
During this year, our faculty won national and international recognition. They published books and many articles. They were on the radio and in the newspapers. Friends and alumni generously gave tens of thousands of dollars to support the department and our students.
What I want to do here is mention some of the achievements that are not so easy to measure and record: a graduate student who first entered the classroom as a shy and nervous first-time TA has now become a confident and effective instructor; an administrator who deals with the obscure details of a grant application; a faculty member who mentors an undergraduate research project in the history and philosophy of science; a staff person who advises our students on their courses and helps them register; an undergraduate who, in the midst of writing a paper, finally understands Kant's second formulation of the categorical imperative; a search committee that screens scores of applications in order to find just the right person for the position; a philosophical conversation that happens in the lounge or coffee shop. Of course, all these events are supposed to be just routine - what happens every day in the University. But I think that as the pressure mounts - for understandable and justifiable reasons - to account for everything we do in terms of spreadsheets and rankings, it is even more important to remind ourselves of the quality of our everyday work in the department. We have had a great year not only because of our documented productivity, but also because we have worked together to educate our students and increase our knowledge of philosophy. Thank you all for your interest and support. Please join us in the department - whether in person or virtually - at an event next year!