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October 24, 2002 Farewell to Stanley French, able academic administrator



Professor Stanley French with proud members of his family, who attended a celebration of his long career at Concordia on March 14. From left to right are his grandchildren Ryan and Lyssandre French, daughter Shona French, Dr. French, and wife Leena Sandblom.

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

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 the university.

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 Concordia’s 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 him tremendously.”

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 Waterloo’s philosophy department.