May 17, 2007

Hickman named Phi Kappa Phi Scholar

by Andrea Hahn


Larry Hickman

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Larry Hickman, director of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Center for Dewey Studies and a professor of philosophy, is a 2007 Phi Kappa Phi Scholar.

Hickman will receive a $5,000 honorarium, active membership in the society for one year, a recognition certificate and the opportunity to present his scholarly work at the triennial convention, scheduled this year for Aug. 9-11 in Orlando, Fla. The national scholastic honor society gives the award only once every three years. Hickman is the 12th scholar to receive the honor.

As Dewey Center director, Hickman has devoted much of his scholarly attention to American philosopher John Dewey, an educational reformer, political progressive and proponent and leader of Pragmatism. Scholars consider the Center for Dewey Studies at SIUC, along with the Dewey papers and literary estate housed in the special collections of Morris Library, as the world's top resource on Dewey.

Hickman's first major project after taking over the Dewey Center in 1993 was editing Dewey's letters – a monumental collection of more than 21,000 items. The project, which received major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, resulted in the publication of the correspondence on a CD-ROM under Hickman's direction. He also edited the electronic version of the 37-volume, "The Collected Works of John Dewey," which the center published in 1996. In addition, Hickman wrote four books, including one scheduled for publication this year, and edited or co-edited 11 others. Several have been award winners and received broad critical acclaim. He also wrote and narrated an award-winning documentary.

In his administrative capacity, Hickman secured more than $2 million in grants for the Dewey Center and helped establish other Centers for Dewey Studies in Italy, Germany, Hungary, China and Japan, with another under way in Poland.

Hickman said the most important aspect of his work is his students, and he added that he learned from them as well as taught them. "I am honored to have had a small part in inspiring them to their best efforts," he said.

He also expressed gratitude to the editorial staff at the Center for Dewey Studies for its commitment to the electronic editions of the Dewey correspondence – a project that Hickman said "has already begun to change the face of scholarship in American philosophy and American intellectual history."

Phi Kappa Phi SIUC Chapter 072 President Anne Fletcher, professor of theater history at SIUC, nominated Hickman on behalf of the chapter. She praised Hickman for maintaining "an active service and teaching regimen" despite his "worldwide presence." Her nomination letter included references from many of Hickman's colleagues from many universities, all of them emphasizing Hickman's important role in the academic world.

Hickman is a native of San Juan, Texas. He received his bachelor's degree from Hardin-Simmons University in 1964 and his doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in 1971. He pursued further study at the University of Erlangen in West Germany, and then returned to the University of Texas as a visiting assistant professor. He joined the philosophy faculty at Texas A & M University in 1974 and remained there until coming to SIUC.

SIUC is the only university with more than one Phi Kappa Phi Scholar. In 2001, Andrzej Bartke of the SIUC School of Medicine received the honor. This year, the University nearly saw two faculty members sweep the Phi Kappa Phi awards. The selection committee said L. Brent Kington, professor emeritus of blacksmithing and metalsmithing in the School of Art and Design, was a "strong contender" for the Phi Kappa Phi Artist Award.

Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 at the University of Maine. A multi-discipline academic honors society, it is also one of the largest and oldest in the nation, with chapters on nearly 300 campuses in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, with approximately 30,000 new members initiated annually.