History of Conference; by Dr. Michael Koch

In this Twentieth anniversary of the Oneonta Undergraduate Philosophy conference it is fitting to do justice to those who blazed the way we now follow. In particular, gratitude beyond words is owed to Distinguished Teaching Professor Dr. Douglas Shrader who, along with Dr. Achim Koeddermann, in 1994, took a group of students to a scholarly conference at Binghamton University. The students who Dr. Shrader and Koeddermann were so inspired by the conference that they suggested that SUNY Oneonta host its own Philosophy Conference. A couple of rooms in the old Fitzelle were reserved. Some coffee was donated. A call for papers was put out to a few colleges within driving distance and out of this humble start todays conference was born. But the conference became what it is today because of Dr. Shrader’s commitment to reflective scholarship, discursive exchange and the notion that doing is a part of thinking. It was under his guidance that the Oneonta Undergraduate Conference developed and maintained its identity as a student organized and run conference where faculty would serve as guides and mentors, but students would make the key decisions and would be builders and architects of each year’s conference. Dr. Shrader passed away in 2010. Part of his formidable legacy is this conference that not only continues at Oneonta but, through the students who participated in the Oneonta conference, has led to the founding of undergraduate conference throughout the United States.

The faculty of the Philosophy Department at Oneonta supported Dr. Shrader from the start of this conference. Of particular note, in addition to Dr. Koeddermann, are Professor Dr. Anthony Roda who was the co-founder of the Philosophy Department and who shared Dr. Shrader’s commitment to discursive exchange. Dr. Roda founded the Dominick Roda Award to honor “discussants who present insightful, cogent, and thought-provoking analyses of other students’ papers.” Also worthy of note is Distinguished Teaching Professor Dr. Ashok Malhotra, who was the other co-founder of the Oneonta Philosophy Department. Dr. Malhotra contributed the annual Ninash Foundation East-West Awards that honor student presentations that exhibit special expertise and insight in Asian and Comparative Philosophy.

This Twentieth Anniversary conference adds a new name, Dr. Jean-Paul Orgeron, to the list of faculty members who have worked with students to make this conference a reality.

However, it is the students who are most important to making this conference. It is this two decade long commitment of generation after generation of students that should be celebrated in this twentieth anniversary. They are the soul of the SUNY Oneonta Undergraduate Conference.


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