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Dahlstrom Named First Silber Professor

CAS chair created for a distinguished senior scholar

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Daniel Dahlstrom, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of philosophy, says the Silber Professorship “is a welcome demonstration of Boston University’s support for philosophy and the humanities.” Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

When Daniel Dahlstrom showed up for the philosophy department meeting on Wednesday, he was greeted with cheers, chilled champagne, and the news that he had been named the University’s first John R. Silber Professor.

“The appointment to this chair in the department of philosophy is a great honor, especially given John Silber’s long-standing, passionate commitment to philosophical excellence, the sort of excellence that critical and independent thinking can alone ensure,” says Dahlstrom, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of philosophy, who will step down as chair of the department in August after serving in that position for four years.

The Silber Professorship, he says, “is a welcome demonstration of Boston University’s support for philosophy and the humanities. In addition to providing me with vital assistance for completing several research projects and pursuing some long-shelved international collaborative studies, resources from it will also make possible research initiatives with colleagues and students alike.”

Named for the University’s seventh president, the Silber Professorship is designated for a distinguished Boston University senior scholar in CAS, with preference given to a member of the philosophy department.

“Endowed chairs are very important resources for attracting and retaining our best professors and for nurturing their work by supporting their professional activities,” says Virginia Sapiro, dean of Arts & Sciences. “In the humanities, where very little grant money is available to support research and scholarship, they play a very distinctive role.”

The balance of scholarship and teaching is “especially important,” she says, “because of the value that Silber, who was president of BU from 1971 to 1996, placed on both of these aspects of professorial work.” Sapiro says Dahlstrom is “a splendid choice.”

In addition to editing 17 collections, most recently, Interpreting Heidegger: Critical Essays (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Dahlstrom has written 3 books, published more than 125 articles on a variety of philosophical topics and thinkers, and translated into English works by Mendelssohn, Schiller, Hegel, Feuerbach, and Heidegger. Last year, he served as president of the Metaphysical Society of America, and he is the presiding officer of the Heidegger Circle and the first editor of its journal, Gatherings. Last winter, he was invited to lecture at Oxford University (Authenticity and the Absence of Death) and Wuppertal (Zur Aktualität der Ontologie Nicolai Hartmann).

Silber praised the choice, calling Dahlstrom an excellent teacher and scholar.

“I am pleased to know that he will set the standard for future appointments to the Silber Professorship,” says Silber (Hon.’95). “I am indeed pleased with this outcome."

Susan Seligson can be reached at sueselig@bu.edu.

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