Professor Emerita Judy Wubnig
The Department was saddened to hear of the recent death of a longtime faculty member, Judy Wubnig.
Judy was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1934. She received a BA from Swarthmore in 1955, and her MA and PhD from Yale. Her 1963 dissertation was titled A Study of the Rationality in Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment. After a short stint as a Lecturer at Northeastern University, she joined the Waterloo Philosophy Department in 1965, where she worked until her retirement in 2002. She continued to work on Kant, including translating work on his philosophy of mathematics, and made occasional forays into political philosophy.
Judy was a well-known figure on the Waterloo Campus throughout her career. She was never shy about speaking up in defence of what she thought was right, and regarded herself as a staunch advocate of free speech. As the then-University President David Jonston phrased it when he conferred the designation Professor Emerita on her, she was “a conscientious discussant at Arts Faculty Council and diligent in defending the interests of faculty members across campus.”
It is as a mentor and friendly supporter of many students during her long teaching career that Judy probably made her most important contribution. She often went out of her way to make students, especially international students or students who seemed isolated, feel at home at Waterloo. One of the current faculty members in the Department, Shannon Dea, was an undergraduate student of Judy’s and her memories give a feel for a side of Judy that those who only know her by her higher-profile activities on campus might miss:
Judy was one of my first ever Philosophy professors. In the Fall of 1989, in the first term of my undergrad, I took "Great Works of Western Philosophy" with her. I loved the course and I loved her teaching. She was old-fashioned in a way that, at the time, I was looking for in a philosophy professor. She treated the canon reverently; this really resonated with me at the time. She was also fiercely supportive of her students. I recall one time I had to ask for an extension on a paper because I wasn't doing a very good job of juggling work and school. She asked me why I had a job, in addition to being a student. I told her that my job was my only way of paying rent. This really upset her. "Oh, why can't they just let students be students?" she complained. (She gave me the extension.)
As it happens, the job in question was at a local restaurant. I remember that Judy often used to bring undergraduate students to the restaurant and buy meals for them. She was always a really generous woman. At the end of the course I took with her, she invited the whole class to her apartment for a potluck dinner. This really meant a lot to me. It was the first time I had ever been welcomed to a professor's home, the first time that I ever shared a meal with a professor. I and another student in the class were both vegan. Judy was far from vegan, but she managed, in her own way, to make we two vegans feel really welcome by explaining to us Plato's reasons for excluding meat from the diet of the citizens of the Republic. Years later when I became a professor, I followed Judy's model and held student potlucks at my house at the end of term. I wanted to make my own students feel as welcome and supported as Judy made me feel. (I don't host these potlucks so often any more, but I still think very fondly of the practice.)
Over the years, my views about philosophy and pedagogy and about the world in general drifted pretty far from Judy's. By the end, we didn't agree on much. But she was the first woman philosopher I ever met, and she was a kind a generous teacher to me. For these reasons, I will remember her with great fondness.
Professor Emerita Anne Minas
Former member of the Department of Philosophy, Anne Minas, died late September 2015 at the age of 78.
Anne Minas made a lasting mark on the University of Waterloo with her endowment of the Humphrey Professorship in Feminist Philosophy. This professorship allows the department to bring distinguished feminist philosophers to the University of Waterloo for a term.
The Humphrey Professorship has of course been a benefit to the many Waterloo students who have had a chance to learn from the eminent scholars who have held it, to the scholars at Waterloo and nearby universities who have had a chance to interact with them, and to the people who got to see them in action at the public talks that are among the duties of the Humphrey Professor. Anita Superson, the most recent holder of the Professorship, says of the Philosophy and Women’s Studies students she encountered at Waterloo that “their enthusiasm goes unmatched,” and that she was struck that “my colleagues at the University of Waterloo showed me how feminist philosophy was not only welcome, but strongly encouraged in their department.”
Both personally and by endowing the Professorship, Anne Minas was part of a significant evolution in the Department. She was the first feminist philosopher in a department that now prides itself on having a range of excellent scholars doing specifically feminist work, and many others whose work is informed by and sympathetic to feminist scholarship. Thanks in part to her leadership and generosity in endowing the Humphrey Professorship, Waterloo’s Philosophy Department is now noted internationally for its excellent feminist philosophy. But Minas’s goals were larger. Christine Overall, the inaugural Humphrey Professor, describes the impact of the Humphrey professorship this way: “Dr. Minas had a deep commitment to supporting research and teaching in feminist philosophy. Her generosity in funding the Humphrey Professorship was a concrete expression of her dedication to ensuring that feminist philosophy would both survive and thrive in Canadian academia.”
Anne Minas completed her doctorate at Harvard in 1967. Her first job in Waterloo was at Wilfrid Laurier University, but she soon moved down the street to a post in the Waterloo Philosophy Department. She taught at Waterloo from 1966 until 2002. She published in various sub-disciplines in philosophy, including philosophy of language and philosophy of religion, but is best known for her work in feminist philosophy which included publications in venues such as Ethics (where, in 1977, she wrote on what was in those days quaintly called “reverse discrimination”).
Her main claim to fame as a scholar, though, is her important edited collection Gender Basics: Feminist Perspectives on Women and Men(Wadsworth, 1993, with a second edition from Wadsworth in 2000). This book became a standard introductory textbook in the field, and is still widely used.
Anita Superson remarked “Little did I know, two decades ago when I reviewed her anthology, Gender Basics, that I would have the pleasure and honor of holding the Humphrey Professorship in Feminist Philosophy which was endowed through Anne's generosity. I had reviewed her book very favorably, believing it to be the best of its kind on the market, and to this day I still cite articles from it.”
Distinguished Professor Emeritus Angus Kerr-Lawson
Distinguished Professor Emeritus Angus Kerr-Lawson died late June 2011 shortly after his daughters accepted the honour of Distinguished Professor Emeritus on his behalf at the spring convocation.
Professor Kerr-Lawson served with excellence as a faculty member in both Philosophy and Pure Mathematics at Waterloo for nearly 40 years from 1958 to 1996. He took on many crucial roles, serving as Department Chair (Mathematics), Senate Executive Committee, and the University Board of Governors.
Since Angus's retirement, his work in the field of American philosophy, always respected, has increasingly been recognized as foundational to aspects of the field. He was a distinguished, internationally known scholar of the mathematics and logic of Charles Sanders Peirce, and of the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza. He is best known, though, for his extensive work on the philosophy of George Santayana.
It is no exaggeration to say that Angus was one of the top few living English language scholars of Santayana. Indeed, it is rare to encounter an English-language book or journal article on Santayana that doesn't engage Angus, either by thanking him in the acknowledgements, or by directly focusing its attention on his work. Thus the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy honoured Angus for his
contributions to the field in 2008, while the journal Transactions of the Charles S Peirce Society published a special issue devoted to his work in 2009.
Angus published a substantial body of peer-reviewed philosophy journal articles on central figures in 19th and early 20th-century American philosophy. He also contributed book chapters on Peirce and Santayana to collections edited by some of the most distinguished living scholars of American philosophy. Yet the larger component of his philosophical work appeared elsewhere – in Overheard in Seville, the bulletin of the Santayana Society, which he himself edited from 1983 to 2006. In this journal he published 24 articles between 1983 and 2009. Overheard in Seville is the primary locus for scholarship on Santayana. Without this journal and Angus's tireless stewardship of it, Santayana scholarship would be decades behind where it is today.
Angus was a very fine scholar and a respected member of the university community. His intellectual generosity and great collegiality will not be forgotten by those fortunate enough to have worked or studied with him.