In 1964 the two premier public universities in Ohio, Miami University and The Ohio State University, began a collaboration in Dayton that in three short years became Wright State. Having a mission distinctly different from its founding institutions, Wright State was created to meet community need by serving a student body combining large numbers of traditional and non-traditional students with diverse backgrounds. General education and college wide requirements played a large role in the developing curriculum. The university’s faculty emphasized providing students with access to the broadest range of course work in all the traditional arts and sciences disciplines and led to the creation of a Department of Philosophy.
In its second year the university added two full time professors of philosophy. Robert Bryant became department chair and Robert Power joined Nicholas Piediscalzi, professor of Religion, in the new department. When Bryant left the following year Power became acting chair and was joined by Ronald Hough and Eugene Valberg. Valberg was replaced in 1967 by Donald Beelick, who retired from WSU in 2002 having also served for many years as Pre-Law Advisor. Power became Assistant Director of WSU’s new Division of Liberal Arts in 1967 and then served as Acting Dean of the College of Liberal Arts from 1970-1972. He retired in 1982. Hough became department chair in 1970 and remained in that position until his retirement in 1999 making him the longest serving chair in university history. Frank Levitt joined the philosophy faculty in 1969 and was replaced by William Walters in 1972, who left the university in 1978. Charles Taylor joined the faculty in 1977 and in 1997 received the Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching Learning and Technology. He became Director of the Master of Humanities Program in 1995, Department Chair in 1999; he also served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts from 2005 until retirement in 2012.
From the outset the faculty in the Department of Philosophy had diverse responsibilities in the College of Liberal Arts and the university. They contributed to the education of graduates from all colleges by providing required humanities courses for the university’s general education program. They taught the logic and philosophy of science courses that were part of the research methods requirement taken by all students earning a B.A. in the College of Liberal Arts. And they provided courses in medical ethics for pre health-care majors, as well as business ethics classes.
The Department of Philosophy also supported the university in its mission by providing classes to majors and non-majors in the widest range of disciplines. Students from English, history, religion, classics art, motion pictures, music, physics, communication and psychology regularly took advanced philosophy classes. The largest percentage of majors were pre-law, while some were pre-law. Many majors, however, wanted a classical liberal arts rather than a pre-professional degree. Because teaching students to think critically and write effectively has been the fundamental concern of the department faculty, the Philosophy Department has prepared students to assume careers in a wide range of fields.
Dr. Charles Taylor,
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy