People of the Humanities Department
The Legacy of Fay Sawyier | John D. Root, Humanist and Historian
THE LEGACY OF FAY SAWYIER
Fay Sawyier believed in the value of teaching philosophy at an undergraduate level, especially within a technical curriculum. As a faculty member in the Department of Humanities for many years, she was enthusiastic about the benefits of grants for philosophy that benefactors such as the Mellon Foundation provided to the university during her tenure. Sawyier held a deep conviction on the importance of philosophy's legacy and, in 2004, left a bequest of her own to IIT that supports this belief.
The most far-reaching legacy of Sawyier's generosity is the Sawyier Predoctoral Fellows Program, which funds the annual appointment of two doctoral students in philosophy who teach for the Humanities department while completing their dissertation work. As described by Robert Ladenson, professor of philosophy and trustee of the Sawyier endowment, this program is a gift to both the beneficiaries and the university: "There are few restrictions attached to the fellowship, which allows the recipient to focus mainly on his or her dissertation. The advantage to the university is that these young academics, who are in touch with the significant philosophical ideas percolating through graduate programs, can bring an infusion of these current ideas to our department. Our humanities professors meet regularly in colloquia, to try out ideas and have drafts of papers critiqued; to have seasoned faculty and young professors engaged in spirited dialogue advances the aims of philosophy."