Mary Baldwin Associate Professor of Philosophy Edward Scott has been named recipient of the 2014 H. Hiter Harris Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, given by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC). He will be honored at a luncheon in Richmond today.
A member of the Mary Baldwin faculty for nearly 25 years, Scott’s primary interests are the history of philosophy, hermeneutics, phenomenology, aesthetics, and African-American thought. He is well-respected among colleagues and students alike, commanding “the affection and respect of this community to an unparalleled degree,” wrote Catharine O’Connell, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college, in a nomination letter for the award.
“It is fair to say that Edward is a force on this campus; he holds us all to the highest standards and reminds us of our duty one to another,” O’Connell wrote. “His students are amazed by him — a little intimidated too, at least at first. From his general-education introductory Philosophy classes to his upper-level specialized courses, Dr. Scott offers students the best that the liberal-arts tradition has to offer.”
Professor of Philosophy Roderic Owen has worked alongside Scott throughout Scott’s time at Mary Baldwin, which includes service as department chair and assistant dean of the college. President Pamela Fox also appointed Scott interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college for three academic years before O’Connell arrived at Mary Baldwin in 2009.
“[He] embodies the abilities and attitude that bring ethical commitments to the forefront, that make it right to seek both knowledge and the ‘good life,’ and that reveal the power of public speaking directed toward an empowering liberal education,” Owen said of his colleague.
Scott’s work also extends outside the Mary Baldwin campus. He has served on the Staunton City School Board, the board of advisors for the local branch of the Salvation Army, and as a member of the board of trustees for the American Shakespeare Center. He is also devoted to the ordained ministry of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
His influence has also resonated with hundreds of Mary Baldwin alumni, including Aubrey Sparks ’13.
“He seamlessly integrated life into teaching and teaching into life until the sun in my window in the morning reminded me of Plato and the tree changing colors outside of our classroom window inspired me to contemplate Kierkegaard,” Sparks said. “He incorporated his own experiences into his lectures, letting us learn from him in both an academic as well as a personal sense, while also allowing us to understand philosophy through the world so that we could understand the connections between education and experience.”
Scott earned his BA in philosophy from Slippery Rock State University and his MA and PhD at Duquesne University. His first teaching job in philosophy was in 1977 at an urban satellite for the Community College of Allegheny County. He also taught at the University of Calabar in Nigeria; Carlow College in Pittsburgh; Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio; and Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois.
The H. Hiter Harris Jr. Award, which includes a stipend to support the recipient’s scholarly research or professional development activities, was created at the VFIC in 2008 through an endowment gift from the family of the late Hiter Harris Jr., a leading Virginia banker who was a member of the VFIC’s board from 1973–98. His son, H. Hiter Harris III, joined the board in 2000.