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Longtime Pitt-Bradford Professor Retires

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Dr. Samuel Fohr, professor of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, retired during 2009 after 37 years of service.

Fohr taught Introduction to Philosophy, History of Ancient Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Introduction to Logic, Philosophy and Literature, Philosophy in Public Issues, Ethics of Health Care, Eastern Philosophy, Religion and the Modern World and Nietzsche.

Fohr began teaching at Pitt-Bradford when classes were still held downtown in the former Emery Hardware building on Main Street. The last four years, he served as the chairman of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Fohr began reading philosophy on his own when he started as a student at Brooklyn College when he was 16 years old. He didn’t take his first course in philosophy until he was in his fourth term of college. Mentored by his first philosophy professor, he changed his major from chemistry to philosophy, where he felt he could make a greater contribution.

After earning a bachelor of arts from Brooklyn College, he went on to earn his master of arts and doctoral degrees in philosophy from the University of Michigan.

In his own teaching, Fohr said he took an approach of applying philosophy to real life, developing courses such as Ethics in Business and Government and Philosophy in Public Issues, which tackled questions such as, “Is torture ever permissible?” “Should President Truman have used the atomic bomb?” and “When is war morally acceptable?”

The benefits of studying philosophy, however, are often more indirect, he said.

“Taking a philosophy course can teach a student how to think well, how to develop an inquiring mind and a critical mind. It helps students look deeper at life.”

Among his favorite teaching experiences were collaborating with other faculty members to create team-taught classes, such as “The Next American Dream,” which he taught with Dr. Stephen Robar, associate professor of political science, and classes in medical ethics, which he team taught with Dr. Lisa Fiorentino, assistant professor of nursing, for 17 years.

“When you share an interest with another professor, it enriches a class to have someone approach a subject from another perspective than yours.”

He’s also enjoyed seeing the physical growth of the college.

“It’s more fun now to see the campus be a really beautiful campus,” he said.

Fohr also served on several campus committees, including the general education curriculum committee and the presidential search committee. He was also a former president of the Faculty Senate.

“I think I’ve always tried to support high standards and a strong general education curriculum,” he said. “I’ve tried to give good advice.”

He and his wife, Rena, have relocated to Gouldsboro, Pa., in the Pocono Mountain region to be closer to their native New York City.

“I’m looking forward to not having to be at a certain place at a certain time on a certain day. And I have about a thousand books I want to read.”

Self-improvement is something Fohr believes strongly in, and something he tried to instill in his students.

“I’ve always tried to leave my students better off than when they came to me – to give them something to make them better, living better lives.”

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