Southern Utah University has announced Kirk Fitzpatrick as the new director of the Grace A. Tanner Center for Human Values. An associate professor at SUU since 2003, Fitzpatrick will advance the center as he leads the campus community in the study of important ethical issues among faculty and students, and supports the teaching, research and discussion of ethics and human values across disciplines at SUU.
The Tanner Center is best known for its annual Grace Adams Tanner Lecture in Human Values, which brings distinguished scholars from around the world to campus to discuss human values and ethics. Presenters have varied from Nobel Prize winners to Pulitzer Prize winners, and university presidents to English lords—and even a former president of the United States.
It also annually hosts the Tanner Symposium and Distinguished Faculty Honor Lecture, highlighting the research and scholarship of top performing SUU professors, as their work relates to broader philosophical and ethical issues.
Beyond the above campus-wide opportunities, the Tanner Center coordinates a Summer Symposium, which brings SUU students from all disciplines together with faculty in philosophical discussions and lectures that span all areas of study. The focus, according to Fitzpatrick, is to “bring students and faculty together in an advanced level of study.”
Fitzpatrick sees these four annual initiatives as a strong base for future progress.
“Looking ahead,” Fitzpatrick explains, “I want to enhance collaboration between faculty and students across all colleges as they find theory and philosophy in every area of study.”
To do this, Fitzpatrick plans to create more student-centered symposiums, host more lectures that focus on a variety of topics and create a relationship with the other nine institutions that house the Tanner Lecture on Human Values.
Jim McDonald, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, has high hopes in Fitzpatrick’s vision for the Tanner Center. “[Fitzpatrick] has the ability to make theories relevant to anyone, no matter their area of study, and I am excited to see where he takes the center.”
“I have been teaching philosophy in political science and humanities courses for close to 15 years and I can see the positive effects it can have on a student, no matter what they’re studying,” explains Fitzpatrick. “My hope is to show that philosophy can be found in every area of study.”
Fitzpatrick received his master’s of philosophy and his Ph.D. in philosophy at Claremont Graduate University, then taught humanities and classical Greek courses at California State University in Long Beach and San Bernardino. Before coming to SUU.
The Grace A. Tanner Center for Human Values was founded at SUU in 1980 through an endowment provided by the Tanner Trust for Utah Universities by Obert C. Tanner, founder of the O.C. Tanner Jewelry Company. Along with the Grace A. Tanner Center’s programming at SUU, there are nine annual Obert C. Tanner Lectures held across the country in universities such as Yale, Oxford, Princeton and Harvard.
SUU’s Grace A. Tanner Center for Human Values was founded in memory of his wife, Grace Adams, who attended the Branch Agriculture College in Cedar City the late 1920s.
The Center is home to the Grace A. Tanner Philosophical Library, a rich collection of theoretical journals, lectures and books in every area study, which is located on the bottom floor of the Sherratt Library.