New faculty position will be used to recruit top philosopher for highly ranked department

Rutgers University’s Department of Philosophy will soon fill its first endowed chair, a position that demonstrates the importance of continued investment in the humanities and underscores the university’s commitment to the department’s elite status.

The department has succeeded in making ancient lessons relevant. The study of philosophy offers many modern-day lessons while also helping students develop strong analytical thinking and writing skills that can be applied to a range of disciplines and career paths. The department has seen a steady increase in enrollment over the last five years, bucking the trend in many humanities departments both at Rutgers and nationally.

The new faculty position is made possible by a $1.5 million commitment from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a matching $1.5 million gift from an anonymous donor who pledged $27 million toward an Endowed Chair Challenge. Rutgers has commitments for 11 new positions under the challenge to bring 18 world-class faculty to the university as part of the “Our Rutgers, Our Future” fundraising campaign and as part of Rutgers’ comprehensive strategic plan that calls for an additional 150 new faculty.

The university will use the chair to attract another distinguished philosopher to the department.

“The Rutgers Department of Philosophy is widely acknowledged to be among the best in the world. The scholar who occupies the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in Philosophy will also be among the very best,” said university President Robert Barchi. “Rutgers’ strong core in the humanities and sciences is identified as an essential foundational element in the university’s strategic plan. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s endowment of this chair – the latest example of the foundation’s long history of generous support for scholarship at Rutgers – is one of many initiatives that will enable our university to maintain outstanding research and instruction in the humanities for generations to come.”

“The holder of the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in Philosophy will add luster to the School of Arts and Sciences, enrich the intellectual lives of our students and faculty, and serve as an advocate for the humanities within the university and throughout the state,” said Richard Falk, acting executive dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

The Mellon Foundation has provided invaluable support over the past five years that has allowed the philosophy department to enroll progressively stronger graduate classes, and enabled those students to complete important research. This is the first endowed chair the Mellon foundation has supported at Rutgers. The foundation supports a wide range of initiatives to strengthen the institutions that sustain scholarship in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

The Andrew W. Mellon Chair in Philosophy will enhance the department’s international standing. In its most recent ranking of philosophy departments in the English-speaking world, The Philosophical Gourmet ranked Rutgers’ department third, behind only New York University and Oxford University. “We are grateful for the opportunity to improve our already distinguished Department of Philosophy by adding a high-profile, distinguished faculty member to fill the first endowed chair in the history of the department,” said James Masschaele, acting executive vice dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Philosophy is an expansive discipline that collaborates with other disciplines. Rutgers philosophers are currently working with linguists, scholars of religion, psychologists and cognitive scientists. They contribute broadly conceived “signature courses” to the new core curriculum in the School of Arts and Sciences, and take part in scholarly exchanges and collaborations with major universities in the United States and abroad.

The Mellon Foundation has been generous to Rutgers over the past decade. Among other efforts, the foundation has supported the operations and exhibitions of the Zimmerli Art Museum, and awarded grants totaling more than $13 million to strengthen the Department of English, British studies, graduate fellowships in several disciplines and Rutgers University Press. The foundation supports a wide range of initiatives to strengthen the institutions that sustain scholarship in the humanities, primarily research universities but also a small number of centers for advanced study and independent research libraries. 

Support for endowed chairs is a top priority of “Our Rutgers, Our Future,” the university’s historic $1 billion fundraising campaign.

Established in 1766, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and one of the nation’s premier public research universities. Serving more than 65,000 students on campuses, centers, institutes and other locations throughout the state, Rutgers is the only public university in New Jersey that is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities.