30 Years of Ph.D.s

The Department of Philosophy at the University of South Florida is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the first Ph.D. it awarded, and is pleased to acknowledge and honor the careers of the three who were the first to receive the degree: Christopher Adair-Toteff, Kostas Kalimtzis, and Nancy Stanlick.  The Department had a history that included a successful undergraduate and Master’s program, during the period of the sixties, when the university as a whole was new. The university was originally a liberal arts college with a cluster of professional programs, and oriented to undergraduate studies, with a novel interdisciplinary program for the students’ first two years. The core faculty was recruited during this era, and established a program with a strong emphasis on the history of philosophy. The university itself shifted, for reasons related to the redefinition of its “role and scope” during the seventies, to a more applied orientation, which restricted new Ph.D. programs to applied programs serving regional needs, and de-emphasized its original strong commitment to the humanities.
The department nevertheless remained an oasis of liberal learning, with an active and devoted student following, and an intellectually diverse and open faculty. It was also well connected to the larger philosophical community, with a strong bias toward the history of philosophy. Stephen Toulmin published, with Alan Janik, the classic Wittgenstein’s Vienna, while a visiting Professor in 1973. In the eighties, the department benefitted from some new appointments at the senior level, and, as a result of the strength of its M.A. program and the students in the program, was offered a co-operative joint relation with one of the two Ph.D. programs in Philosophy in the State University System. When this fell through, the administration supported an application for a stand-alone program, which was approved. It was one of the first new Ph.D. programs in the university outside the limitations imposed by the system. Eventually these limitations were lifted, and the university presently has a full complement of humanities and social science programs. 
The first three students to graduate with the Ph.D. were witnesses to and contributors to this transition. Their pioneering efforts are recorded in their memories of the department during that period, and of their own experience as philosophy graduate students. We are proud to be able to recognize their achievements, which include a large number of books, international teaching experience, and most important, a life of the mind in philosophy that has extended throughout the thirty years since their degrees.  Their stories follow, and are evidence of the kind of intellectual and personal experience the department provided and continues to provide.