Richard Feldman, professor of philosophy and a mentor and teacher of graduate and undergraduate students, has been named Interim Dean of the College of Arts, Science, and Engineering at the University of Rochester. Feldman will fill the position held by William Scott Green, who will become senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education at the University of Miami this summer.
Peter Lennie, Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean-Designate of the Faculty of the College, recently announced the interim appointment, commenting that Feldman's "breadth and depth of experience as an administrator, faculty advisor, and teacher will be especially valuable as we continue to strengthen and enrich our undergraduate programs. I'm delighted to welcome him to the team."
A distinguished epistemologist, Feldman has been chair of the Department of Philosophy, an associate dean, and a faculty advisor to the All-Campus Judicial Council. He is currently a member of the College Curriculum Committee and was involved in the development of the Rochester Curriculum. He also serves on the College Writing Committee and as a freshman advisor.
"I am looking forward to working with Dean Lennie to advance his vision for the College," says Feldman, who notes that recent reorganizations making nonacademic offices, such as residential life and student activities, part of the College have been valuable. "It sends the message that academic excellence continues to be the top priority, but that other aspects of campus life can enrich the quality of students' education and the range of their experiences during their time here."
Feldman received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1970 and his doctoral degree in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1975. He joined the Rochester faculty in July 1975 as assistant professor and was named professor in July 1991. During two periods, he chaired the philosophy department: from 1981 to 1988 and from 1991 to 1997.
For more than a dozen years, he has directed the department's unique internship program that places undergraduate students in the Rochester City School District, helping children develop critical thinking, writing, analytical reading, and problem-solving skills.
Feldman has been awarded fellowships and grants from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Defense Education Act, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He is author or coauthor of three books, Reason and Argument, Epistemology, and Evidentialism, as well as numerous journal articles.
As interim dean, Feldman will continue to advise Ph.D. students and teach the course "Theory of Knowledge" this fall. He also will continue work on a book about "reasonable disagreements," exploring issues such as the rationality of maintaining one's beliefs in the light of disagreement from well informed peers. "People sometimes conclude a discussion of a controversial issue by saying 'Reasonable people can disagree about this issue,'" Feldman explains. "I argue that equally well-informed people cannot disagree while both are still being reasonable, and I examine the implications of this conclusion. I suspect that some of what I'll be doing as an interim dean will enable me to see how the abstract philosophical issues I've been researching and teaching apply to real-world discussion."