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Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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Philosophy Department Receives Major Gifts

December 3rd, 2010

The estate of John A. Gerda, MD (GRS’51) contributed $81,000 in late September for the Peter A. Bertocci Scholarship Fund. In addition to his estates’s $90,000 donation in May to the same scholarship, this gift provides support for PhD students in philosophy.

Gerda earned a bachelor’s degree at M.I.T., a master’s degree in philosophy at BU, and a medical degree from Cornell University. After a short period working as a general practice physician in Newtown, Connecticut, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he served as a staff surgeon at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and surgical program director for the National Cancer Institute. He retired as a physician for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Gerda died last October at his residence in Stratford, Connecticut. He was 86.

The Peter A. Bertocci Scholarship Fund honors the memory of Peter Anthony Bertocci, a Borden Parker Bowne Professor of Philosophy, who died on October 13, 1989. For 31 years, he had been a colleague and friend, both as a teacher and as a professor of philosophy at BU. Peter Bertocci earned his BA at BU in 1931, with honors in philosophy and Phi Beta Kappa. The following year, he earned an MA at Harvard University and in 1935, his PhD again from BU. (From a tribute written by Erazim Kohak.)
In the past 12 months, the Department of Philosophy has received just over $211,000 in alumni contributions. In addition to Gerda’s donations, Dr. Hideo and Mrs. Yoko Itabashi made a $10,000 gift to the Bertocci Scholarship Fund in December. Alumnus Steve Karbank (CAS’79) donated $25,000 in October for the Karbank Fund for Philosophy. Another $5,000 was contributed this year to the Karbank Fund by anonymous donors.

Several years ago, Steve Karbank launched The Karbank Challenge in collaboration with the Philosophy Department. The Challenge was premised on the view that if the academic study of philosophy is to have real-world impact, it must also have real-world support. The terms of the challenge were as follows: each gift of $100 or more made to the support of the Department of Philosophy will count toward the challenge and will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis by Mr. Karbank, up to a total of $100,000. In March of 2007, the Challenge was declared successful. Mr. Karbank has continued his generous support of the department, thanks to which many departmental activities have been made possible, including the annual Karbank Symposium in Environmental Philosophy (next to take place on April 15, 2011).

“We are immensely grateful for these extraordinary gifts to the Philosophy Department,” said Professor of Philosophy and the Philosophy Department’s Director of Fundraising and Alumni Outreach, Charles Griswold. “Thanks to the splendid generosity of our alumni and friends, we are able to offer much-needed support to our students and faculty as they pursue their philosophical research into the great issues of the day. In these difficult economic times, this support is all the more welcome. We intend to keep reaching out to our alumni and very much hope that they will continue to lend a helping hand to the coming generation of students.”

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