blog posts An Insider's Perspective with Larry Shiner Images Delete Edit embedded media in the Files Tab and re-insert as needed. align image leftalign image centeralign image right Can you provide us with some information about your background? Your education and career? I was born in Oklahoma, and grew up in Topeka, Kansas where I graduated from high school. I attended Oberlin College and Northwestern University, and received a BA in history from Northwestern in 1956. I received a doctorate in philosophy from Université de Strasbourg in France in 1961.I went on to teach at Cornell College in Iowa from 1961 to 1970, and I became a professor of philosophy at the University of Illinois at Springfield in 1971 where I taught until 2004. During that time I served as dean of academic programs from 1975–1978. I was editor of the Psychohistory Review from 1987–1999. I have published some forty articles in the areas of philosophy of art, philosophy of history, and philosophy of religion, and four books in those same areas. The latest book, entitled Art Scents: Exploring the Aesthetics of Smell and the Olfactory Arts, will be published by Oxford University Press in early 2020. Tell us about you UIS experience.I was drawn to UIS, then Sangamon State University, by its dedication to putting teaching, service and public affairs first and pursuing innovation in all those areas. I came in the second year of the university’s existence, and it was a heady time as we did, indeed, pursue innovation in the curriculum, in teaching methods, in requiring public service of all faculty, etc. Lots of time was spent in meetings planning and arguing over the right direction to take if we were to be a model of reform on behalf of students. Although the UIS then, as now, still makes excellence in teaching and serving students its top priority, many UIS faculty have also found time for significant research. Yet even in research many faculty actively involve their students and many of us have found our research topics and directed our writing to students.Because it is a small campus, the UIS experience for most faculty and students is more like that of a liberal arts college. There is time for face-to-face interactions between faculty and students and for a great deal of exchange and cooperative teaching and research across disciplines. In addition, the tradition of public affairs and service has led to a number of significant projects that actively involve students and faculty from several disciplines. An outstanding example is the Illinois Innocence Project led by Larry Golden, a faculty member who has been here from the very first year.Looking back, I especially value the exchanges with faculty and students from other fields than my own that have enriched my life in many ways. You recently received the William Winter Award for your support as a volunteer and philanthropic leader. Can you explain what compelled you to add philanthropic advocacy to your role at UIS, and what you hope your philanthropy accomplishes for the University? Although I had always given to various university causes and units, I became a more serious donor and advocate in 2002 when our only daughter died suddenly at the age of 35. As we struggled with our grief and considered what we could do, the idea of creating a scholarship in her name came to us. Although our means are modest, we have built the fund in her memory to a level of providing two scholarships and hope to do more. One of the aspects of UIS of which I am proudest is the Annual Faculty Staff Campaign, on whose steering committee I have served for several years. We have reached a very high level of giving, this last year over 50%, which reflects the dedication of the faculty and staff to the ideals of the university. I know that some foundations and other funders look at such figures as an indication of the commitment of a faculty and staff to their institution and I am happy to say that I believe the numbers at UIS reflect a sincere dedication.For my wife and I, those areas of the university in which we are most interested in supporting are public radio (WUIS) and the arts. My wife has been a strong supporter of WUIS from its beginnings. In the area of music, I was actively involved in recruiting the person who has built a fine music performance program over the last eighteen years, and my wife and I have been enthusiastic donors annually. The scholarship named for our daughter also goes to an undergraduate student of any major who is willing to make a commitment to one or more of our music performance groups. In the area of the visual arts, I have been especially proud to support the UIS Art Gallery, which provides the Springfield area with cutting edge art exhibitions several times a year. Theater was moribund at UIS for many years, but a decade ago two new faculty members in that area not only revived it, but have created a theater major as well as offering several excellent student productions each year. Here is a new area for giving. Of course, I not only give myself, but encourage others to enjoy the satisfaction of being part of creating wonderful opportunities for students, but also providing an important cultural enrichment for the Springfield area. What advice can you share about how to make a lasting impact at the University of Illinois?Choose an area or areas of the university that you like and from which you have profited and give back on a regular basis. It doesn’t require great wealth to make an impact, just sticking with a plan. What is your favorite University of Illinois memory?There is no particular event that stands out, but a more general memory is of how much hard work Sharon Graf, our director of music activities for the first 18 years, worked to build a thriving set of performance groups and music courses given the few resources she had. In the early days, for example, I would stay late at night after choir performances to help Sharon and her husband take down the risers and store them, wheel the piano into its storage room and put away the music. Today, the choir performs as part of the twice a year “music showcases” that also include the UIS Orchestra, UIS Concert Band, and UIS Jazz Ensemble, all of which takes place in the Performing Arts Center where there is a professional staff to handle equipment.