SALISBURY, MD---In the early days, he taught with a Pepsi in one hand and a cigarette in the other. They have disappeared now—reluctantly he would aver—but Jerry Miller is still known to launch an occasional eraser at an unsuspecting student who has uttered an indocile remark. The eraser is usually launched back, playfully, with a good deal more accuracy, leaving the professor caked in chalk dust. No matter; so long as his beloved students are willing to question and examine their lives.
And from their own testimony they have. For 36 years, over 10,000 students have literally packed themselves into his overflowing classrooms. With shouts and pleadings, humor and drama, he has transformed young, often listless, adolescent minds into reflective adults.
And so this year, on the occasion of his retirement, the annual Philosophy Symposium will honor the thought of the one who started it all 28 years ago, Dr. Jerome Miller. Titled “God and the Reasons of the Heart: a Celebration of the Thought and Teaching of Jerry Miller,” the day-long program is held Saturday, May 3, in Caruthers Hall Auditorium.
Some of the department’s former students will return and offer, in the morning session, a reflective account of Miller’s thinking, particularly as it relates to his award-winning essay on the existence of God, The Way of Suffering: A Reasoning of the Heart (available on the SU Philosophy Department Web site at www.salisbury.edu/philosophy). In the afternoon session, a panel of alumni, from various professions, will speak about how his thought and teaching has influenced their own lives and work.
Joe Mohler, an alumnus and religion teacher in the Baltimore area, said of the prize-winning essay: “Of all the material I use in class, that essay still has the most impact on my own students. Reading it is a life-altering experience for them.”
Dr. Clement, chair of the Philosophy Department, summed up the program this way: “Jerry has influenced so many students over the years, inspiring many to become majors, that we could not let this opportunity to honor him pass us by. We are hoping many of his former students will return to share the day with us.”
The symposium begins with a continental breakfast at 9 a.m., followed by the morning session at 9:30 a.m. After lunch, the afternoon session is 1-3 p.m. At the conclusion of the formal program, participants are invited to the Philosophy House for a more festive celebration.
Sponsored by the SU Philosophy Department, the Bellavance Honors Program and the Fulton School of Liberal Arts, the symposium is free and the public is invited. For more information call 410-677-5070 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.