University of South Florida

College of Arts & Sciences


sculpture outside campus building


The Department of Philosophy at the University of South Florida is celebrating the 30th 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 1960s, when the university had recently opened. 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 were recruited during this era and established a program with a strong emphasis on the history of philosophy. During the 1970s, the university itself shifted–for reasons related to the redefinition of its “role and scope”–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 1980s, the department benefitted from some new appointments at the senior level, and, as a result ofthe 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.


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About CAS

The College of Arts and Sciences is the intellectual heart of the University of South Florida. We are a community of teachers and scholars united in the belief that broadly educated people are the basis of a just, free, and prosperous society. By focusing on the big questions facing all of humanity, we prepare students for successful, socially responsible personal and professional lives. By conducting innovative, interdisciplinary research and scholarship, we advance knowledge in ways that prepare us to address complex social and scientific problems and enhance the quality of life for people and communities.