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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Endowed chair to help Department of Philosophy develop master's program in ethics

After more than 40 years as an engineer, Richard L. Hedden wanted to learn more about the humanities. So he left Los Angeles, moved to Las Cruces, and enrolled at New Mexico State University, signing up for classes in anthropology, history, astronomy, criminal justice, and lately, philosophy.

Hedden thanked the university for his education by leaving a generous financial gift establishing the Richard L. Hedden Endowed Chair in Advanced Philosophical Studies. The endowment will be funded by an initial gift from Hedden with the provision that additional gifts may be made at any time.

The fund will allow the Department of Philosophy to develop a flagship master's program in ethics and applied ethics by enhancing the annual salary of a new faculty member in the department, providing a graduate assistantship stipend to the department, and providing income for a Philosophy Speaker Series, said Tim Cleveland, academic head of philosophy.

"There's not really a program like this in the state or region," Cleveland said. "Richard's generosity is a huge shot in the arm for us and an incredible show of faith in the department, beyond our wildest expectations.

"We will be poised to make a unique contribution to education in the Southwest. This gift will allow us to hire a new person with a reputation in ethics who can come in here and help us get an applied masters program in ethics off the ground," Cleveland said, noting that three of the four tenure-track faculty members in philosophy specialize in ethics and applied ethics.

Hedden said he would like the university to offer mandatory classes in citizenship. And he said Plato was probably right when he said, "Don't study philosophy until you're 30 years old."

"If more working adults did this, the whole society would improve," Hedden said.

By his generous gift that will allow NMSU to offer more advanced ethics classes, Hedden is helping to improve society, too, Cleveland said.

"Teaching ethics courses helps develop in students the critical reflection necessary to be highly effective members of society. It gives them the resources to better handle the difficult moral dilemmas they will face in science, business, agriculture, or life in general," he said. "The enhanced program in philosophy and ethics made possible by Richard's generous gift will help produce more ethically sensitive and reflective citizens for New Mexico and will make a distinct contribution to philosophy in the state."