Rozema awarded new endowed chair of philosophy and literature

An anonymous benefactor to the foundation made this chair possible.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney announces David Rozema, professor and director of the philosophy department, has been awarded the first Inklings Chair of Philosophy and Literature. The chair is made possible through a $500,000 endowed fund given by an anonymous benefactor to the University of Nebraska Foundation.

“It is quite an honor and quite humbling,” said Rozema, who has taught at UNK’s College of Fine Arts and Humanities for more than 18 years.

The chair is named after a group of 20th century thinkers and writers at Oxford University who became known as The Inklings. Some of its members included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams and Hugo Dyson, among other renowned writers and scholars.

“The example set by the members of the Inklings constitutes a high deal of intellectual and spiritual maturity, which serves as a goal for our efforts as teachers and scholars,” Rozema said. “I consider myself a student of these men.”

The permanent endowment enables the department to award an annual stipend for salary, research and program support. The chair is awarded to outstanding teachers who use philosophy literature commonly considered among the great books of the western world. Recipients are selected by the university and receive five-year appointments, renewable for an additional five-year term.

The gift provides support for the university’s current fundraising initiative, the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities. More than half of UNK’s $50 million campaign goal has been met.

Rozema said this new endowed gift ensures the integrity of the philosophy department for many years to come.

“Our departmental mission is to provide a challenging, intensive course of study in what is commonly called the great books,” Rozema said. “We seek to develop in our students the arts of careful, soul-centered reading and writing. The provisions of the Inklings Chair will enable us to carry out this mission with greater confidence and hope.”

The Inklings Chair of Philosophy and Literature is the second endowed chair for the philosophy department at UNK. The O.K. Bouwsma Chair in Philosophy was established in 2004.

“Both chairs have been established through the very generous contributions of an anonymous donor,” Rozema said. “The magnanimity of this donor is clear and poignant. On behalf of all the students and others who have benefited from reading and discussing and writing about the great teachers throughout the ages, we thank our friend for these magnificent gifts.”

Rozema has taught a variety of courses at UNK, from ethics to seminars on Ludwig Wittgenstein, Soren Kierkegaard and Lewis. The studies of Lewis and Tolkien’s works have been a special focus of his research and teaching, and he has published articles on works by Lewis, Tolkien, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, Plato, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Joseph Conrad and Wendell Berry. With his colleague, Gene Fendt, he also co-authored a book on Plato’s dialogues titled “Platonic Errors: Plato, a Kind of Poet.”

The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that has connected the dreams and passions of donors to the mission of the university for the past 75 years. In 2010, donors designated more than $136 million in gifts to scholarships, academic programs, medical research and other priorities at the university. The foundation’s current $1.2 billion fundraising initiative, the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities, concludes in 2014. For more information, visit

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