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Auburn Rules!

Posted: Sep 26, 2008

If not on the gridiron, at least in the classroom. According to an article in the New York Times (September 21 ) entitled The Thinker, Auburn University has a top-notch philosophy department. “I don’t know of a comparable department at a comparable school,” said James Conant, a philosophy professor at the prestigious University of Chicago. The philosophy department at Auburn University was transformed almost single-handedly by Dr. Kelly Jolley, who arrived at Auburn as a young professor seventeen years ago.

Jolley’s early efforts to change the culture of the philosophy department at Auburn met with resistance from the university’s administration. Among other things, they rejected his requests for money for more upper-level philosophy classes. Determined to build up Auburn’s philosophy major, Jolley taught the courses himself, free of charge. The department now has fifty philosophy majors, many of whom go on to study for their Ph.D. Two of Jolley's former students are currently studying under Dr. Conant at the University of Chicago.

Jolley does not see philosophy so much as theory or an academic discipline but as a way of looking at or being in the world. The value of precise analytical thinking cannot be over-rated. It is crucial to a well-lived life. As Socrates told the court at his heresy trial: "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Meanwhile, the battle for ascendancy in the Southeastern Conference continues as Auburn (formerly ranked number 8 in the top 10 until last Saturday) meets Tennessee, and undefeated Alabama (now ranked number 8) meets undefeated LSU (ranked number 5) Prior to last week's game, there were five SEC teams in the top ten. After Auburn's heart-breaking loss to LSU by five points, Auburn dropped out of the top ten. AP's Top 25 ballot on September 21 ranks Auburn in place 15, Alabama at 8, LSU at place 5, Georgia at 4 and Florida at 3. Despite the cool fall weather, there will be a hot time in Athens, Georgia, and Auburn, Alabama, this Saturday. Auburn appears to have gotten its new offense in good working order, and Alabama and Georgia should go down to the wire. As of today, the Sportsbook.com oddsmakers have both Auburn and Georgia as a 7 point favorite.

I encourage fans who attend the Auburn-Tennessee game to drive by the Women's Athletic Center and see the bronze statue "Wings of Triumph" (pictured) that was dedicated on September 5 to all past, present, and future Auburn women student-athletes. Mounted atop a five foot base clad in jade pearl granite, the "Wings of Triumph" statue is constructed of silicon bronze with a stainless steel armature and stands over 10 feet tall. There are 400 individual feathers that have been crafted in the wings. This magnificent sculpture was created by Birmingham artist Branko Medenica. In addition to many public and private sculptures, Medenica also created the statue for the Jesse Owens Memorial (Jesse Owens Memorial Park near Danville, Alabama) and the statue "Sacred Tears," a tribute to those who walked the Trail of Tears. "Sacred Tears" stands in Cold Springs Park in Tuscumbia, Alabama. (Centerpiece photo on RiverVue depicts "Sacred Tears.")

---Penne J. Laubenthal

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TeachBES says...

I love hearing positive things about Auburn. They are so rarely recognized for contributions. Thank you, Penne. So much for that 7 point favorite for Auburn and especially for Alabama. Well, WARRRR EAGGGGLE anyway. We, the true blue, will always be behind them...win or lose.

CAFIELD says...

It is great hearing about Auburn's academic department. Perhaps someday we will read about it every Sunday in our local newspaper like we do the football coverage. Who knows that could happen someday. Sure hope I'm alive for it.

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