March 9, 2006
According to many Cornell philosophy professors, the department’s recent loss of faculty – Profs. Michael Fara and Delia Graff to Princeton University last year and Profs. Zoltan Szabo and Tamar Gendler to Yale University this year – signifies no major change or downturn in the department and is only a string of bad luck.
“Nothing negative here made me decide to leave Cornell for Yale,” Gendler said.
According to Prof. Michael Della Rocca, chair of Yale’s philosophy department, Szabo and Gendler notified their colleagues on or around Feb. 20.
Philosophy professors can easily move from institution to institution given the nature of their work.
“We don’t have labs, so it’s easy to move. And we have no startup costs. The whole world’s our colleague base, because it’s possible for people to know each other in ways other professionals don’t,” Gendler said.
Ithaca’s upstate New York location necessitates the hiring of couples. That can make additions and losses of faculty seem “magnified in both directions,” in that faculty are hired in twos and leave in twos, according to Gendler.
“Academia is a weird profession because where you work, you have to live,” said Prof. Brian Weatherson, philosophy, who went on to compare academia to law, a profession where a number of law firms may be concentrated within a small area, allowing lawyer couples to work in the same city but for different firms.
Gendler plans to take advantage of opportunities for interdisciplinary work at Yale. According to the Yale Daily News, Gendler will serve as the acting director of the cognitive science program at Yale.
“Current empirical research in psychology influences her work in the philosophy of psychology and the theory of knowledge,” Della Rocca said.
“I’ll be able to do a lot of direct collaboration with people in psychology because there are people at Yale whose work directly overlaps with mine,” Gendler said.
Szabo’s work on the philosophy of language has strong ties to linguistics and cognitive science, according to Della Rocca.
“Interdisciplinary work is very important at Yale and one of the main reasons we were interested in Tamar and Zoltan,” Della Rocca said. “It’s something of a thought that it’s good for a department to talk to others when it’s appropriate to do so.”
Cornell’s decentralized organization – seven distinct, independent colleges – complicates possibilities for interdisciplinary work outside of the College of Arts and Sciences, according to Gendler. Within the Arts and Sciences college, professors of different fields can communicate with greater ease, formally or informally.
“Virtually everyone in the department has a tie to some other department or program,” said Prof. Gail Fine, philosophy. “These include classics, medieval studies, religious studies, linguistics, mathematics, cognitive studies, government, ethics and public life and science and technology studies. Some of us have taught courses with people in other fields.”
According to Fine, the philosophy department was “given a new line” for the study of post-Kantian German philosophy and conducted a search for new faculty members in collaboration with German Studies. The department made an offer for someone to work at Cornell in this area and hopes to make this a “new area of excellence and an interdisciplinary one at that.”
The Cornell philosophy department has enjoyed an outstanding reputation over the course of the past century.
“If Cornell were a football team, we’d be the playoff team year after year,” Weatherson said. “Even high profile departments have gone through lean patches where they’ve had to struggle a bit.”
The Philosophical Review, the leading philosophical journal in America, is edited at Cornell, which according to Gendler, indicates that Cornell has a “department that [is] going to land on its feet,” despite the recent faculty losses.
“Philosophy is full of smart people – you lose some, you get some more,” Gendler said.
Gendler and Weatherson attest to the Cornell philosophy department’s strength by citing that Wittgenstein occasionally visited Cornell and by referring to the fact that many faculty members were his students.
“We are no longer a Wittgensteinian department, but we’re still good,” Weatherson said.
Those perhaps most affected by the losses of Fara, Graff, Szabo, and Gendler are the graduate students working under them. Grad students comfortable with a certain professor who then moves could easily communicate via e-mail with them, but for some grads “it could be a bit choppy,” Weatherson said.
Such grads have two options: transferring to the professor’s new institution or following the professor to the institution’s city, if they no longer have to complete coursework, and finishing their dissertation in the city with their original mentor.
According to Raul Saucedo Ceballos grad, the transient nature of philosophy professors “has a negative impact in grad student training.” He noted that grads have only about five years in a PhD program, and so that “if a professor you’re working with leaves in the middle of your studies, you will have very little time to adapt to working with whoever replaces him.”
“It might take them time to get to know you,” he added.
Archived article by Jessica DiNapoli Sun Staff Writer
March 9, 2006
Though just two games into its season, one thing is obvious about the women’s lacrosse team (1-1) – it has a plethora of offensive weapons.
After putting up 15 goals in both its season-opening victory at Colgate and nail-bitingly-close loss at No. 17 Notre Dame, the team is already well ahead of the 10.1 goals per game average it managed a season ago.
Even more impressive, however, is that scoring has not just come from a few superstars for the No. 18 Red, but instead, from a number of different contributors. In fact, no less than 10 Cornell players have already recorded a point in this young season.
“We have a variety of talent on attack,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. “It makes it hard on defenses – they’ve got to be ready for a lot of different players.”
The Red’s offensive firepower was best on display in a furious second-half rally against the Red Raiders last week. Down 8-7 early in the period, Cornell rattled off eight straight scores – including three alone from junior attacker Margaux Viola – to clinch the victory.
Viola ended up as the leading goal scorer, with four goals for the Red in that contest, while sophomore midfielder Noelle Dowd led the team with five total points.
However, those two were not without company on the attack that game. In total, seven different Cornell players recorded goals against Colgate.
“We have a lot of threats,” Graap said. “We’re getting goal production from both midfield and from the attackers.”
The astounding depth of the Red attack was also made quite clear in the close loss to the Fighting Irish. Again, seven different Cornell players scored goals – this time led by sophomore attacker Courtney Farrell’s six tallies.
Although the team’s furious comeback attempt late in the second-half came up just short, the Red still had many positives to draw from that game.
Cornell converted all three of its free position shot opportunities and also enjoyed an impressive shooting percentage. Though the season is barely underway, the Red’s overall statistics in both those categories are well ahead of the team’s marks a year ago.
“We have a lot of confidence in taking shots right now,” Graap said. “Our shooting percentage is very high – we focused a lot on that in the preseason.”
Even with the offensive as strong as it is already, Graap is still looking for players continue to grow their skills, especially when they do not have the ball.
“We need to keep developing our off-the-ball movement and unselfish team work aspect,” she said.
In fact, Graap sees each score as a total team effort, and working together as the key to making a strong, cohesive offensive unit.
“There is too much weight on who scored goals and got assists,” the coach said.
“It is also really important to pull defenders and be a threat all over the field. There are seven players on the field in our offensive unit. Though just one player scores, there are six others that really helped make that happen.”
Archived article by Scott ReichSun Staff Writer