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Professor Emerita Anne Minas

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Anne Minas portraitFormer member of the Department of Philosophy,
Anne Minas, died last week 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.”