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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Center for the Philosophy of Freedom opens at UA

Alex Kulpinski
Alex Kulpinski / Daily Wildcat UA President Eugene G. Sander, Director of the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom Randy Kendrick and Sen. Jon Kyl cut the ribbon to open the New Center for the Philosophy of Freedom on Friday, Feb. 24, 2012.

When a brain tumor threatened David Schmidtz with “a fate worse than death,” his plan for a center dedicicated to political philosophy was put on hold.

But Schmidtz, a philosophy professor, underwent a life-saving surgery that allowed him to recover and found the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom. The center’s launch was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday in the Louise F. Marshall

The center’s mission is to promote the understanding and appreciation of the ideals of freedom and responsibility through published research, undergraduate and graduate education and community outreach.

When Schmidtz approached then-President Robert Shelton and Eugene Sander, then-dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, about launching the center in 2008, they both asked the same question: “Does this mean you will stay (at the UA)?”

Schmidtz’s ability to stay began with Randy Kendrick, the center’s first and the largest donor. So far, she has donated more than $2.5 million to the center.

Kendrick was so impressed by Schmidtz’s ideas in addition to student comments from his course evaluations that when she met him in 2003, she invited him to go to dinner. Schmidtz declined the invitation because he had just found out about his brain tumor. Kendrick assisted him by finding Dr. Robert Spetzler, one of the best neurosurgeons in the world, to remove the tumor.

Sander said although the UA isn’t particularly famous for research in the philosophy of freedom, the university already had donors for the center and starting it was a “good idea.” The UA is now one of the top 12 schools in political philosophy.

“One thing that really drove me was that we (the UA) could be the number one group in political philosophy,” Sander added.

Schmidtz requested a $25,000 grant to start the center and was given $32,500. A year later he received $52,000 more.

Some notable guests attended the ceremony, including former state Sen. Jonathan Paton and U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl.

“Arizona has an important influence in political philosophy because it is one of the few schools that is teaching the next generation a philosophical understanding of freedom,” Kyl said.

At the end of the ceremony, Schmidtz and Kendrick both received medals from the philosophy department for respect and gratitude.

“In cutting a ribbon today,” said Chris Maloney, the philosophy department head, “we began to understand freedom that inspires us.”

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