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Charles Brown named 2014 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor

April 23, 2014

A philosophy professor who strives to show students how what they learn in the classroom has bearing in their day-to-day lives is the newest Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor at Emporia State University.

Dr. Charles Brown learned of the honor during a surprise announcement in his Introduction to Philosophy course Wednesday morning.

“It’s a career achievement,” Dr. David Cordle, provost and vice president for academic affairs, explained to the students. “The Roe R. Cross recognizes excellence in all aspects of faculty work.”

Cordle was part of an announcement delegation of Emporia State administrators that included Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, president; Dr. Marie Miller, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Dr. Ellen Hansen, chair of the Department of Social Sciences.

Brown earned his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy at The University of Oklahoma. He has taught at Emporia State University since 1989.

During his 25-year career, Brown is known for inspiring students to pursue degrees in philosophy.

Professor Amy Sage Webb, a fellow Roe R. Cross professor, told of several examples in her letter nominating Brown.

“Though ESU has no graduate program in philosophy, and few courses beyond general education in the area,” Webb recounted, “Dr. Brown’s teaching provides the type of mentorship that literally changes the course of students’ lives, enlivens philosophical discourse and achieves career success.”

One such student is Jack J. Hutchens, now a professor of Polish studies at the University of Florida.

“Though ESU did not have a philosophy major,” Hutchens said in a letter supporting Brown’s nomination, “I was able to achieve a minor in the area thanks entirely to Dr. Brown’s tutelage. Since there were not many classes that I could take, he took time from his own schedule so that I could take independent studies with him.”

That type of mentorship is key to the Roe R. Cross selection process, Miller told the students on Wednesday.

“It recognizes good teaching, scholarship and mentorship,” she said, noting the recipient is determined by previous Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professors.

Brown, whose specialties are 20th-century continental philosophy, environmental philosophy and intercultural dialogue, has edited two books, published numerous journalism articles and book chapters and presented at a myriad of conferences both in the United States and abroad — including Warsaw, Poland; Olympia, Greece; and Hiroshima, Japan.

At Emporia State University, Brown has served on Faculty Senate, the Provost Advisory Council, General Education Council and Dean’s Advisory Council; and as director of the University Honors Program. He has directed the Kansas Regent’s Honors Academy and served on the Kansas Humanities Council.

Today’s Roe R. Cross announcement is the second significant award for Brown during this academic year. Brown was named the 2014 recipient of the President’s Award for Research and Creativity. He will receive $1,000 for that award and be the keynote speaker at Research and Creativity Day on May.

As the 2014 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor, Brown will receive a $1,000 honorarium for professional activities and be the speaker at the winter undergraduate commencement.

“This is a huge honor,” Brown said when the announcement was made. “It will take me a little bit of time to process it.”

When told about the honorarium, Brown immediately saw a teachable moment.

“We were discussiong income inequality,” he said about the day’s topic, “so this will help a lot.”

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