Alumni Newsletters

September 2014

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Greetings from the William & Mary Philosophy Department!  I am writing to you, once again in the position of department chair, this time filling in for a year as my colleague, Elizabeth Radcliffe, is on research leave for 2014-15.  

I would like to extend a warm invitation to our informal Homecoming Reception, which will be held on Friday, October 17.  Please stop by any time between 3:00 – 4:30 p.m., in the Frank MacDonald Memorial Commons Room, on the first floor of James Blair Hall, for conversation and light refreshments.  

If you are in the area, you are also most welcome to attend any of the sessions of our upcoming conference, The Authority of Tradition, which will be held on Friday, October 3, in the Leadership Hall of the Alumni House.  Details about the conference schedule and speakers may be found at the conference website:

We are grateful to all of our donors, especially for the generous support of Teresa Thompson and Michael Foradas in funding our major biennial conferences and speaker series, and for the generous support of James Bassage in funding a number of departmental programs that enrich the intellectual environment for department faculty and students, including the departmental reading group and mentoring programs.  Our thanks also go out to William Richardson for his continuing support of a senior essay prize and to Eric Dietrich, Sean Echevarria, Douglas and Sebastiana Springmann, and Christian Colton for their significant gifts and pledges this year.  If you are interested in supporting the department, we are grateful for any gift large or small:

As a brief update on department news, we have been happy to greet three new visiting assistant professors this fall: Chad Vance, Jonah Goldwater, and Tucker McKinney. You will find interesting interviews with each of them in the News section of our department homepage:

Their addition makes us a department of fourteen full-time faculty members, each dedicated and enormously productive in research, service to the College, and teaching.  You will find a handsome photo of the department faculty here:

Finally, if you'd like to send us an update, we would be delighted to hear from you. Our students are especially interested in learning more about how our alumni and friends have used their philosophy training in pursuing their careers. You’ll find an on-line form that’s easy to use at this location:

We hope we will have the pleasure of seeing you during Homecoming Weekend or whenever your plans bring you back to William & Mary.

All best regards,


Laura W. Ekstrom
Class of 2016 Professor and Acting Chair
Department of Philosophy
College of William & Mary
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795

September 2013

Dear Alumni and Friends:

Fall is upon us, and we in the William & Mary Philosophy Department would like to invite you to make plans now to join us at the Department’s Homecoming Reception on Friday, October 25th! The reception will be from 3:30 – 5 pm, in the Frank McDonald Department Library (James Blair 127). Drop in for refreshments and conversation with other alums, friends, students, and our faculty. We would love to see you and catch up.

 I write this letter as new Chair of the Department of Philosophy. I am very pleased to be here, and I thank Laura Ekstrom, my predecessor, for her capable leadership. (You will no doubt hear from her again. My term as chair will be interrupted by a Scheduled Semester Research Leave, and she has graciously consented to fill in for a year when I am away.)

 The Philosophy Department has just welcomed its newest tenure-track faculty member, Christopher Tucker, who most recently taught "Down Under" at The University of Auckland. Chris received his Ph.D. from Purdue and has much teaching and research experience. He works in the areas of epistemology, philosophy of religion, and ethics.

 The 2012-13 academic year was a very productive one. I'm happy to say that three seniors were recipients of the Jerry Miller Essay Prize at May graduation: Justin Burnam, Grace Mendenhall, and Zach McCarty. We are grateful to Bill Richardson for the funding of this annual award. I can also report that the department took a very active role in discussions of a new general education curriculum for the College. Development of the new curriculum will be on-going this coming year, and the department will soon be engaged in the tailoring of new courses.

 I would like to spotlight some of the significant accomplishments of our faculty in this past year:

Neal Tognazzini co-edited a book on blame and how it affects the moral community. You can watch an interview with Neal about his book here.

Robert Sanchez, who also works with the Latin American Studies Program, co-led a group of students to the Mexican border over winter break, to explore the ethical dimensions of immigration issues. Robert’s work is highlighted here.

 Tim Costelloe published a collection of original essays on the topic of “the sublime,” awe-inspiring experiences of beauty. You can read about Tim's collection here.

 Alan Goldman’s newest book, Philosophy and the Novel, which discusses iconic novels like Pride and Prejudice and Huckleberry Finn, is featured here.

I am pleased to announce that the Department’s next biennial conference will be held Friday, October 3rd, 2014, at the Alumni House on campus. It will be a day-long event, addressing the topic of “The Authority of Tradition.” The presentations will investigate the tension between the power that tradition has over our attitudes and behavior, on the one hand, and the suspicions we have about it as a source of authority for us, on the other. We have so far confirmed speakers from Oxford University and Columbia Law School. A website for the conference will be up shortly, so please look for it! We are very grateful to Theresa Thompson for establishing the endowment that makes possible our conferences, and to Michael Foradas for generous contributions that support our conference and our speaker series.

 I also would like to invite you to the Department's fall speaker series, with talks by Trenton Merricks (UVa) on Sept. 13th, Christian Miller (Wake Forest) on Oct. 4th, and Jamie Dreier (Brown) on Nov. 15th. Please check out the "Events" section on our homepage for titles, times, and rooms.

We appreciate all of your donations, no matter the size. We would especially like to acknowledge the substantial gifts this past year from James D. Bassage, on behalf of the Hummingbird Foundation; Stephen Nathan Chase and his firm, KPMG, LLP; and H. Edward Mann.

 Finally, I invite you to send us news about yourself. We are always interested in knowing what the graduates of the W&M Philosophy Department are up to. So, feel free to use this on-line form to contact us.

We hope to see you in October at the Homecoming reception!


Warmest wishes,

Elizabeth S. Radcliffe

Professor & Chair, Department of Philosophy