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Transylvania’s excellence in teaching recognized again—philosophy professor Peter Fosl receives major award from postsecondary education community

LEXINGTON, Ky.—Transylvania philosophy professor Peter Fosl has received the Acorn Award for outstanding teaching from the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education. The award recognizes outstanding teachers at Kentucky’s public or independent colleges and universities.

Peter FoslFosl was chosen for the outstanding quality of his teaching, expertise in his fields of study, the originality of his courses and scholarship and the role he plays as a mentor to students and faculty.

“Transylvania has always placed a high priority on teaching excellence,” said President Charles L. Shearer. “Peter is one of the finest teachers I have known. He is simply superb, and I am thrilled that his dedication has been recognized by the Council on Postsecondary Education.”

When describing why he chose teaching as a profession, Fosl says “There’s a sense in which I didn’t choose teaching as a profession. Rather, teaching chose me.

“Teaching is to some extent creating lovers. The word philosophy means love of wisdom. So there’s a kind of love of learning and inquiry and reflection that I try to ignite in students.”

Fosl says that as a teacher it’s important to make sure students are involved in the class.

“I’ve found that teaching is not just about conveying a body of information, but it’s cultivating certain passions and sentiments in the students, so that students find the material interesting, important, and something they can invest their own passions in,” he said. “One thing that is delightful and very satisfying to me is to see that passion for learning take root in students.”

Shearer said that Transylvania “attracts professors who are among the best in their disciplines and who love to teach.”

Fosl joins a long list of Transylvania professors recognized for teaching excellence. Philosophy professor Jack Furlong received the Acorn Award in 2000, and Transylvania has dominated the Kentucky Professor of the Year Awards bestowed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Biology professor Peggy Palombi won last year, political science professor Don Dugi in 2003, Furlong in 2002, biology professor James Wagner in 2001 and economics professor Larry Lynch in 1996.

Fosl joined the Transylvania faculty in 1998, and was named the Bingham-Young Professor in 2004. This two-year position is intended to stimulate curricular enrichment and development of the art of teaching. Fosl created and deployed an ambitious “Liberty, Security, and Justice” program that included a new philosophy course, a film series, faculty/student reading groups and national guest speakers in an effort to focus campus intellectual life around this issue.

“Peter is a superb and inspiring teacher, an active scholar, a dynamic colleague, and is more than deserving of recognition,” said colleague and history professor Frank Russell.

That’s a sentiment that would surely be echoed by his other colleagues and by students who have been lucky enough to have experienced a class taught by him.

Fosl is a contributing editor to The Philosophers’ Magazine and has been a member of the editorial board of The Journal of Transcendent Philosophy. His latest book, a collaboration with Julian Baggini called The Philosopher’s Toolkit, is aimed at a mass audience and discusses how to think about ethical issues.

Fosl, a Louisville resident, earned bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and economics from Bucknell University and a master of arts and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Emory University. He has previously served as a faculty member at Georgia State University, Emory University and Hollins College.

Transylvania, founded in 1780, is the nation’s sixteenth oldest institution of higher learning and is consistently ranked in national publications as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country.

9/18/2006

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