Oct. 15, 2001
Two Acclaimed Philosophy Professors Named to Chairs
Two celebrated philosophy scholars and longtime colleagues have been appointed to the first established chairs in The Catholic University of America School of Philosophy. Monsignor John F. Wippel was named The Theodore Basselin Professor of Philosophy and Monsignor Robert S. Sokolowski was named The Elizabeth Breckenridge Caldwell Professor of Philosophy.
Monsignor John F. Wippel
“Monsignor Wippel’s and Monsignor Sokolowski’s appointments are events of the highest moment for the School of Philosophy,” said the Rev. Kurt Pritzl, O.P., dean of the school. “These two internationally acclaimed scholars — both alumni of the university — have been members of the School of Philosophy throughout their distinguished careers. In every respect, they represent the excellence at the heart of the school’s mission and life.”
Well known for his stature as a metaphysician and his work in medieval philosophy, Monsignor Wippel is the author or editor of numerous books and articles, including The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas and The Metaphysical Thought of Godfrey of Fontaines. He is the recipient of many prestigious awards and honors, including the Aquinas Medal of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, and has held two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Monsignor Wippel will deliver his inaugural lecture as The Theodore Basselin Professor on January 25, 2002, entitled “Thomas Aquinas on God’s Freedom to Create or Not.” Professor Stephen Brown, of Boston College, will give the response.
The Theodore Basselin chair is part of the Basselin program for the education of future priests centered in the School of Philosophy and Theological College, CUA’s seminary. The Basselin program, supported by an endowment bequeathed to CUA by Theodore Basselin, a New York businessman who died in 1914, emphasizes training in philosophy and public speaking and has for decades educated “the best and the brightest” seminarians attending CUA. Monsignor Wippel was himself a Basselin scholar as a CUA seminarian. He now teaches the core courses in the Basselin program, including a required course sequence in Thomistic metaphysics.
Monsignor Wippel received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and Licentiate in Sacred Theology from CUA and earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Louvain, Belgium, in 1963. He was awarded the prestigious post-doctoral degree Maître-Agrégé from the University of Louvain-la-Neuve in 1981. He was first appointed instructor in the School of Philosophy in 1960 and became ordinary professor in 1972. He served as CUA’s academic vice president/provost from 1989 to 1997.
Monsignor Robert Sokolowski
Monsignor Robert Sokolowski is widely known for his scholarly work in phenomenology and for his writings on major themes in the fields of philosophy and theology. Phenomenology is a form of philosophizing that advances reason’s self-discovery in the presence of intelligible objects. Its leading exponent is the early 20th century philosopher Edmund Husserl, at whose centennial commemorations Monsignor Sokolowski recently delivered lectures in Copenhagen, Paris and Boston. He has also served as a consultant at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, working with theoretical physicists and mathematicians on issues related to the philosophy of science, mathematics and information technology.
Monsignor Sokolowski has published numerous articles and nine books, including Presence and Absence: A Philosophical Investigation of Language and Being and the most recent Introduction to Phenomenology. In 1994, a festschrift was presented in his honor, The Truthful and the Good: Essays in Honor of Robert Sokolowski, and in 2000 he was honored by former students in a conference entitled “Christian Distinctions and Theological Disclosures: Robert Sokolowski and the God of Faith.” Like his colleague, Monsignor Sokolowski was a Basselin scholar as a CUA seminarian and received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Monsignor Sokolowski received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from CUA. In 1961 he earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree and in 1963 a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Louvain. He was appointed instructor in the School of Philosophy in 1963 and became ordinary professor in 1969.
Monsignor Sokolowski will deliver his inaugural lecture as The Elizabeth Breckenridge Caldwell Professor on April 19, 2002, entitled “Language, the Human Person, and Christian Faith.” Professor Richard Cobb-Stevens, of Boston College, will give the response.
The Elizabeth Breckenridge Caldwell chair is named in honor of the mother of Mary Gwendoline Caldwell, a benefactress whose generosity was instrumental in founding CUA. Donations and bequests over the years, including a substantial gift from the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1992, made the endowment of the chair possible.
Revised: March 27, 2001
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