A reception was held in the Philosophy Department annex on Mackay St.
on March 14 to honour Professor Stanley G. French on his retirement from
Professor French grew up in Ottawa, and studied electrical engineering
at the Royal Military College in Kingston. He received his PhD from the
University of Virginia in 1959.
He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including visiting
scholar positions, and he is known to generations of students for his
excellent courses on interpersonal violence, biomedical ethics, Wittgenstein,
Austin, violence against women and contemporary analytic philosophy.
Professor Andrew Wayne remarked at the reception that French was hired
away from the University of Western Ontario to head the philosophy department
at Sir George Williams University in 1968, because his predecessor, while
an extraordinarily nice man, had only two books to his name,
and those were about checkers because he was the Canadian checkers champion.
During his three years as chair, Professor French hired many successful
scholars and teachers. Enrolment in philosophy courses at SGW went up
from about 300 to 1,800 students or more.
He went on to serve three five-year terms as dean of graduate studies
at SGW and later Concordia University from 1971 to 1986, As a result of
his efforts, the number of graduate programs grew from six programs with
about 100 students to 55 programs with about 3,500 students. During his
tenure, he was one of the leading proponents of Concordias colleges,
including the Simone de Beauvoir Institute and the Liberal Arts College.
For several years in the 1990s, Professor French was director of humanities
doctoral program, and not only maintained its excellence, but was able
to increase its budget for teaching assistantships from $4,000 in 1992
to $60,000 in 1995.
Sherry Simon, the director who followed French, sent a message to the
gathering from her sabbatical leave.
The students in the PhD in humanities program owe a great deal to
Stan. He was very effective in building and sustaining the program both
at the intellectual and administrative levels, and he was a terrific source
of energy and encouragement for the students. I know that they admired
After an informal reception, a talk was given by Michael McDonald, first
occupant of the Maurice Young Chair of Applied Ethics in the W. Maurice
Young Centre for Applied Ethics, UBC, and formerly of the University of
Waterloos philosophy department.