Lucius T. Outlaw Jr.

Philosopher is First Nelson Professor

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ, announced last week that Lucius T. Outlaw Jr. - a scholar in African-American, social and political philosophy, and holder of a 1972 Boston College doctorate - has been appointed inaugural holder of the Honorable David S. Nelson Professional Chair.

Outlaw is the T. Wistar Brown Professor of Philosophy at Haverford College in Haverford, Pa., where he has taught since 1980. While he will not be in residence during the first part of his two-year term, he plans to give a number of public presentations and continue pursuing his research interests.

"Lucius Outlaw enjoys a reputation as a thoughtful, eminent commentator on philosophy and culture, especially concerning the African-American experience," said Fr. Neenan. "We are delighted to have him as our first Nelson Professor. It is especially rewarding to invite Professor Outlaw back to Boston College, which was a milestone in his academic and personal development."

Lucius T. Outlaw Jr.

Outlaw, whose doctorate is in philosophy, called the appointment "a very humbling vote of confidence, especially considering the chair which I will hold is named for so distinguished a man as David Nelson.
"My return to Boston College is a return to what was a home base, a place where I met my wife, who was a graduate nursing student at the time," continued Outlaw, who has held the Brown Chair at Haverford since 1992. "It provides me an opportunity to say 'thanks' for BC's contribution to my life and career, and to take on a new role. As the Nelson Professor, I also have the chance to delve further into those areas - race, philosophy, higher education - which have become the focus of my work."

The Nelson Chair was established last year in honor of the former University trustee and US District Court judge, an alumnus of Boston College and Boston College Law School. It is offered to a distinguished African-American professor who reflects the educational aspirations and human qualities Nelson exhibited during his career.

Graduate School of Social Work Dean June G. Hopps, chairwoman of the Nelson Chair search committee, described Outlaw as "an outstanding academician" who will "bring great enthusiasm" to his appointment.

"Lucius Outlaw represents excellence in academic achievement," Hopps said. "As accomplished a scholar as he is, we also feel he will be a dynamic participant in the Boston College community and beyond. He can help us reflect on issues concerning race and culture from a strong philosophical perspective."

Outlaw, who joined the Haverford Philosophy Department as a visiting associate professor in 1980-81, received tenure in 1985 and served as department chairman from 1990-93. He also was a faculty member at Morgan State University, where he directed the University Honors Program, and at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. During the past decade, he has been a visiting professor at Hamilton College, Howard University and Spelman College.

His numerous articles have explored such topics as the writings of W.E.B. DuBois and Africana philosophy, and appeared in Philosophical Forum , Journal of Social Philosophy and other publications. His forthcoming work includes a collection of essays titled Essays On Race and Philosophy .

Outlaw earned a bachelor's degree from Fisk University in 1967, and during his doctoral studies at Boston College was a teaching fellow in the Philosophy Department and served briefly as interim director of the Black Studies Program.

Return to May 24 menu

Return to Chronicle Home Page