Oklahoma Baptist University

Alum Russell Jones Accepts Harvard Professorship

Russell E. Jones, a 2004 graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, recently accepted a position at Harvard University as an assistant professor of philosophy with a specialization in classical philosophy, beginning July 1, 2010. Jones said he hopes to not only impact his students, but also to create a ripple of influence around the world.

His responsibilities will include teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in philosophy; directing graduate research and dissertations; conducting and publishing his own research; and general service to the department and the university.

"At OBU, I developed independently interests in Greek and in philosophy," Jones said. "By the time I graduated in 2004, I had married those interests and began studying Greek philosophy seriously."

Since his graduation from OBU, he has been working on his Ph.D. degree at The University of Oklahoma.

"Harvard had one of a handful of job openings in my field this year, and I applied, was granted an interview on campus, was offered the job, and accepted," said Jones.

Despite accomplishing so much already, Jones still wants to do more. He said he recognizes the opportunity that he has been given and wishes to affect not just those immediately around him, but also people around the world.

"Harvard undergraduates go on to do a wide variety of things, and many of them achieve great success and influence," Jones said. "If I can impress upon some of them the value of understanding our philosophical heritage and the importance of thinking philosophically about our most fundamental values, that has the potential to have a significant effect on them and those around them. And I'll have a hand in training Harvard graduate students in philosophy, most of whom will teach philosophy in universities around the world. So what I do in that context is important, since the effects can be multiplied many times over."

Jones said his time at OBU was important to his development as a philosopher and scholar.

"My studies at OBU introduced me for the first time to classical philosophy," Jones said. "It's hard to know what would have happened had I gone to a different school, but it was through required classes with Don Wester and Mack Roark that I became interested in philosophy and Greek my freshman year.

"I developed these interests further, studying Greek with Bobby Kelly and Mack Roark, and philosophy with Randy Ridenour and John Mouracade. In my philosophy courses, I developed strong analytical skills that have served me well in my subsequent philosophical research. And in my Greek courses, I developed strong linguistic and exegetical skills necessary for serious research in the history of philosophy."

Dr. Don Wester is OBU professor emeritus of philosophy, and Dr. C. Mack Roark is professor emeritus of Bible. Dr. Bobby Kelly is OBU Ruth Dickinson professor of religion, and Dr. Randy Ridenour is associate professor of philosophy. Dr. John Mouracade served as assistant professor of philosophy.

Jones' new position and responsibilities have not detracted his focus from what he believes is most important in life.

"I'll be satisfied if I can be a good family man, a good philosopher, both in the classroom and in research, and good citizen," Jones said. "I appreciate the fact that my new post at Harvard gives me new opportunities and resources to be a good philosopher and, especially through teaching, a good citizen."

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