The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

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A pause on philosphy

Professor+John+Pauley+has+been+the+only+full+time+Philosophy+professor+for+the+last+4+years.
Photo courtesy Simpson faculty page
Professor John Pauley has been the only full time Philosophy professor for the last 4 years.

John Pauley, director of interdisciplinary studies, started at Simpson College in the Fall of 1990 and has been the only professor in the philosophy department for four years. He has plans to go on a sabbatical in the spring, leaving next semester without a philosophy professor.

When asked about any potential retirement plans, professor Pauley said that he has no reason to retire, that “[he’s] not tired or burnt out or anything. [He] doesn’t like being the only philosophy professor, but [he’s] not afraid of it.” 

Within the philosophy department, a typical class size for the upper and mid-level classes ranges anywhere from 10-20 students. There haven’t been any classes with less than 10 for a while, which tends to be a good number for a positive experience in the classroom. 

On the other hand, for a lot of the lower and introductory philosophy classes they tend to have upwards of 40 students per class since the class can only be offered when the professor is available. 

These numbers have been quite consistent ever since Pauley has been with Simpson. According to him, you “can’t have a liberal arts college without philosophy, that’s all there is to it.” So why has there only been one professor for the major? Especially since it seems to be a successful and necessary department for the college. 

Pauley went through the process of trying to get another professor hired twice. The first time, he was eventually able to get a professor hired but she then left Simpson in 2019. Since then, he has filed to start the hiring process again, but his application has been rejected twice. 

Eventually, Pauley decided he didn’t want to go through the process again. There are some plans for future possibilities since even the board agrees that a one-person department isn’t what is best for the campus. Currently, they are in the process of hiring an ethicist, which will strengthen the philosophy department and the college. 

In the spring of 2024, Pauley will be going on sabbatical. He will be in Ireland studying environmental philosophy. Once he finishes, it will be a helpful addition to his curriculum.

While Pauley is in Ireland, some philosophy classes will still be offered. Introduction to Ethics and Applied Ethics will be offered online, while religion professor Jed Forman will teach Buddhist Philosophy. 

“Students, in many ways, really need philosophy,” Pauley said. “The irony of it is that students often think that philosophy is the last thing they really need, but weirdly, it is really something that they do need to be able to really think well about themselves, about each other and about the world. It’s the whole point of a liberal arts college.” 

Pauley would also like to state that the college administration has been very helpful to the philosophy department during this time.

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Kyrsten Rehberg, Staff Reporter

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