Humanist to speak during convocation

Renowned philosopher Simon Blackburn will address students and faculty today at the 46th annual Honors Convocation.

Blackburn, a professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, will deliver the keynote address at the annual honors event, which brings a distinguished guest to campus to conclude a week of senior honors presentations. Blackburn will also be the keynote speaker at this weekend’s symposium “Nietzsche and the Philosophical Life.”

Blackburn, a scholar and author on metaphysics and philosophy of mind and language, has also taught at the Pembroke College at the University of Oxford and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a vice president of the British Humanist Association, an organization that promotes secularism, human rights and democracy, according to the group’s Web site.

Peggy Watson, director of the Honors Program, said Honors Week runs jointly with the Festival of Student Scholarship and Creativity, which features student academic projects from seven of the university’s schools and colleges. The aim of both events is to celebrate student excellence, she said.

One of the highlights of the ceremony will be the announcement of the recipient of the Honors Faculty Recognition Award, said Justin Brown, president of the honors student cabinet. Brown, a junior political science major, said the award is particularly meaningful to faculty because students select the recipient. The honors student cabinet chooses the finalists from a list of faculty members nominated by honors students, who then select the winner in a final round of votes, he said.

“Being designated as the honors professor of the year is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a professor at TCU,” Brown said.

Philosophy department chair Gregg Franzwa, a past recipient of the award, agreed. He said students are in a better position to judge the faculty.

The convocation is a tradition that seeks to commend students’ efforts in different academic contexts, Franzwa said. Brown said the Honors Scholar Award and honor society Phi Beta Kappa inductees will also be announced at the event. He said about 40 students will be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, which has chapters in 276 colleges and universities nationwide.

“Only competitive universities are allowed to have chapters of Phi Beta Kappa,” Brown said.

The Honors Scholar Award not only recognizes the student but also provides the recipient with research funding, Brown said.

The Honors Convocation will take place today at 11 a.m. in Ed Landreth Auditorium, followed by a banquet, which will cap Honors Week, this evening at the Kelly Alumni Center. Classes scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m. will end at 10:30 a.m., and 11 a.m. classes are canceled for the event.