Parsons retires after 34 years at UWP

June 9, 2003

PLATTEVILLE - When University of Wisconsin-Platteville students took professor Barbara Parsons classes, they not only learned about the great philosophers Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, they also learned a great deal about themselves.

"Teaching is both a great responsibility and a privilege," Parsons said. "What could be more important than assisting others to cultivate both their mind and spirit? To do this work well, though, it helps to have a good sense of humor."

And do this work well, Parsons did for 34 years, but is now retiring from the University. During her tenure at UWP, she taught a variety of courses in philosophy ranging from philosophy of religion, to social philosophy to philosophy's feminist future (a course she and a colleague developed in conjunction with the women's studies program).

A native of Riverton, Ill., Parsons received an arts bachelor in philosophy from the Dominican University in River Forest, Ill. She continued her education at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo., and Tulane University in New Orleans, La., receiving a master's degree and a Ph.D., respectively, both in philosophy.

Parsons began her teaching career at UWP in 1969. With three years of experience teaching in higher-level education, she joined the staff as an assistant professor. Prior to coming to UWP, Parsons was fired from her position at the University of Southern Mississippi due to her activism with civil rights. Her strong moral philosophy and left-wing ideals, led her to apply for a teaching position with UWP.

"Wisconsin is known to be a progressive state and its school system is highly acclaimed," Parsons said. "When UWP came up on a list of institutions seeking a philosophy teacher, I thought 'Wisconsin sounded like a good place to be,' and I applied."

UWP turned out to be a great place to be, so good in fact that Parsons has remained in Platteville ever since. Parsons even brought her mother to Platteville to live with her until she passed away at the age of 105 years old. While Parsons is glad to retire, she will miss a number of aspects of teaching and working for the University.

"What I've enjoyed the most and will miss the most is the wondering, questioning students and the great colleagues I've worked with over the years," Parsons said. "I was delighted to receive the excellence in teaching award from the College of Liberal Arts and Education in 2000, but teaching has been my greatest accomplishment."

During her retirement, Parsons will continue to stay connected with the University as an emeritus professor. Elected by her colleagues for this prestigious status, she will continue to receive updates and information about UWP and plans to attend various events and lectures on campus. In her newly found free time, Parsons said she also plans to read, write and travel more, with one of her first trips planned to revisit the Grand Canyon.


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