Letter from the Chair

Submitted by Sarah Kremen-Hicks on

Chair’s Letter

November 2022


Change is afoot! In summer 2022, Professor Andrea Woody moved into a new role as Divisional Dean of the Social Sciences, giving philosophy a friend in the administration and Andrea an enormous but exciting challenge of new work and responsibilities. Huge congratulations to Dean Woody! It’s wonderful news for UW and the College of Arts & Sciences.


Here in the Department of Philosophy, we are doing our best to carry on without Andrea’s steady presence and years of accumulated administrative wisdom. I stepped into the role of interim chair – the Dean will run a formal internal search starting in winter 2023 – and immediately realized that a smooth-running department doing lots of innovative research and teaching looks perfectly manageable from the outside but in fact takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work. I am very grateful to faculty and students for having patience with me as I try to figure out how things work, and especially to our amazing and highly skilled office staff without whom the whole place would surely be in flames by now. I’m also delighted to report that the graduate program is in new and very competent hands with Professor Paul Franco serving as Graduate Program Coordinator and Carla Saulter stepping into the Graduate Advisor position.


This fall we are fully back in person for classes and meetings, and working to get reacquainted with all the pleasures and challenges of in person interactions. Masks are recommended but not required at the university, and with luck this winter, we will be able to continue our efforts to build back from the worst of the COVID pandemic. In-person colloquium talks have started again, and resulted in wonderful informal philosophical conversation around the Big Table over refreshments, a glorious reality that was out of reach in the recent past. Just today we hosted undergraduate students for a pizza lunch around the Big Table, to let them learn about majoring or minoring in philosophy, meet faculty, staff and graduate students, and hear about winter course offerings. The turnout was fantastic (so much so that I missed getting a slice of pizza myself!). It feels good to see people together again.


The Department of Philosophy is involved in two faculty searches this fall. We have our own search in normative ethics/ethical theory, and we are also working with the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences (CSSS) on a hire for a faculty member who would split time between teaching courses for CSSS and in their home department (e.g., sociology, political science, communications or philosophy). We are very heartened at the prospect of growing our faculty. Our faculty search last year resulted in the hiring of Dr. Sosseh Assaturian (PhD University of Texas at Austin); she deferred her start date to Fall 2023 in order to take a prestigious one-year fellowship at the University of Toronto.


Please join us for talks and events in the coming year! A few excellent options on the near horizon: Professor Jennifer Nash (Duke University) will serve as keynote for this year’s Benjamin Rabinowitz Symposium in Medical Ethics on February 10; Professor Tommie Shelby (Harvard University) will deliver the Annual Ethics Lecture February 17; the annual high school ethics bowl is scheduled for Saturday March 11.


I invite you to read on to find out more about the wonderful research, teaching and service done by members of our philosophical community! I hope you are as impressed and delighted by them as I am.


Best wishes,

Sara Goering

Interim Chair, Department of Philosophy