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Stanford Report, June 14, 2000

Philosophy Chair John Etchemendy to become provost

John Etchemendy, chairman of the Department of Philosophy, has been named Stanford's new provost, effective Sept. 1, President Gerhard Casper announced at the Faculty Senate meeting on Thursday, June 8. Casper appointed Etchemendy on the recommendation of provost and president-designate John Hennessy, who co-chaired an 11-member search committee.

"I am very pleased to report to you that at the request of the president-designate and incumbent provost, I appoint John Etchemendy as the university's next provost," Casper told members of the senate, who applauded his announcement.

Hennessy said Etchemendy has made numerous contributions to Stanford. "He's been an outstanding chair of philosophy and helped lead philosophy to a new level. He served as associate dean under [former Humanities and Sciences] Dean John Shoven and he's received rave reviews from his colleagues.

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"I think he brings a wonderful perspective on the humanities, but -- just as important -- an ability to talk broadly to his colleagues across the institution. He's of course well-versed in technology and served as the initial leader of the presidential Commission on Technology in Teaching and Learning."

Etchemendy, 48, earned his doctorate at Stanford in 1982 and has been a faculty member in the Department of Philosophy since 1983. He is also a faculty member of the Symbolic Systems Program and a senior researcher at the Center for the Study of Language and Information.

Etchemendy, whose research interests include logic, semantics and the philosophy of languages, has challenged orthodox views on the central notions of truth, logical consequence and logical truth. His recent work has focused on the role of diagrams and other nonlinguistic forms of representation in reasoning. His latest books are Language, Proof and Logic (1999) and Hyperproof (1994), both written with the late Jon Barwise. He and Barwise also developed the academic software "Turing's World" and "Tarski's World," as well as the "Hyperproof" software that allows computers to support the human reasoning process.

An exceptionally popular teacher, Etchemendy won the Bing Teaching Award in 1992, the first year it was presented. He was cited for "the most extraordinarily positive testimony from students."

Etchemendy said he sees the provost's position as an "awesome responsibility. It's something I accepted because I love Stanford and I think Stanford is a great institution," adding that he wants to do everything he can to ensure "the university's possibilities come to fruition."

Etchemendy served as senior associate dean in the School of Humanities and Sciences from 1993 to 1997. He was director of the Center for the Study of Language and Information prior to that. He also chaired the Commission on Technology in Teaching and Learning that President Gerhard Casper established to explore ways to enhance traditional teaching methods through technology. Etchemendy served on the advisory board of the Academic Council in 1998-99, and has been a freshman adviser.

During the past year, he was deputy chair of the search committee that in April nominated Hennessy to be Stanford's next president.

Etchemendy was born in Reno, Nev., and earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Nevada, Reno. He was a lecturer at Princeton University from 1981 to 1982 and an assistant professor there from 1982 to 1983.

He is a member of the American Philosophical Association and the Association for Symbolic Logic. SR