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John Visvader to Hold Borden Chair

Longtime philosopher to hold chair named for colleague
October 2011

John VisvaderCollege of the Atlantic has named John Visvader, longtime faculty member in philosophy, as the inaugural holder of the Richard J. Borden Chair in Humanities. The chair is named for longtime COA professor, Rich Borden, faculty member in psychology and former dean.

"I am honored," said Visvader when he heard that he was chosen, "especially because it is a chair named for Rich." Even before Visvader joined the COA faculty in 1986, he said, the two professors have been traveling together, talking about the college's singular mission and the importance of human ecology as an integrating discipline at the international Society for Human Ecology conferences.

"John Visvader is a strong unifying voice for interdisciplinary, intellectually rich, and socially significant thought and deeds," said Ken Hill, COA's academic dean. "He was chosen for his stellar teaching, his service to the community in creating and hosting the college's weekly Human Ecology Forum, and his consistent focus on the human ecology mission in faculty meetings."

Adds COA President Darron Collins '92, "John Visvader is a spectacular human being and someone COA continually looks to for ideas and inspiration," notes President Darron Collins.  "I'm so lucky and thankful to have worked with John as a student and now in my current role as president."

Visvader received his PhD the philosophy of science and analytic philosophy from the University of Minnesota. He holds a BA in electrical engineering and philosophy from the City College of New York. He is the author of numerous scholarly papers on human ecology, philosophy, and Chinese poetry, and has also published his translations of Chinese poetry. For years, Visvader has hosted COA's weekly Human Ecology Forum, offering a range of discourse in science, international politics, the humanities, and the arts, bringing in international scholars and local poets, while also encouraging students to present their work to a wider audience.

The endowed chair is a dual gift from the families of two COA trustees, alumnus and trustee Jay McNally '84, along with his wife, Jennifer, and trustee Henry Sharpe, with his wife, Peggy. The chair especially honors Borden's shaping of the notion of human ecology in the international arena - work he has shared with Visvader for decades.

College of the Atlantic is a small college on the Maine coast awarding a BA and MPhil in Human Ecology. It was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is to enabling students to actively participate in shaping its future. The collaborative, interdisciplinary, experiential approach ensures that students' quest for scientific, spiritual, social, and artistic knowledge comes with the depth of an individualized curriculum, developing creative thinkers and doers. Education is active, hands-on, often through original sources. Students are fully involved in the community, in governance, in their own education.

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