Thursday, August 5, 2010

In Memoriam - Dr. Douglas W. Shrader

Dr. Douglas W. Shrader
May 22, 1953 to July 27, 2010

SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Douglas W. Shrader, who led the department as Chair from 1986-2008, passed away on July 20, 2010. While one cannot but mourn the loss of a gifted teacher, fine scholar, devoted colleague, reliable friend, loving father and husband, reflection on the life of Dr. Douglas W. Shrader leads one to celebration as much as it does to sadness. It leads to celebration because, as much as is lost with the passing of Dr. Shrader, it is what we have gained from his life that causes us to mourn.

Douglas W. Shrader received his B.A. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1974, his M.A. (1975) and PhD (1979) in Philosophy from University of Illinois Chicago. Fresh from graduate school he was hired as an Assistant Professor at Oneonta in fall 1979. Six years later, he was elected chair of the Philosophy Department. He became a full Professor in 1992. He served as Dean of Arts and Humanities (1991-1993), was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in teaching (1991) and the Oneonta Alumni Commendation for Academic Excellence (1995). In 1999, Professor Shrader became one of the youngest faculty members to be awarded the SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professorship. Dr. Shrader’s remarkable success was a measure of his talent as a teacher, his extraordinary hard work, and his life long dedication to the principle that doing something meant doing it as well as it could be done. For someone with Dr. Shrader’s abilities that was typically very well done indeed.

Trained in Philosophy of Science and Metaphysics, Dr. Shrader expanded his horizons by pursuing an extensive program of post-doctoral study in Asian Philosophy. He worked with colleagues to expand the scope of the department to include Asian philosophy and created his signature course, Philosophy of Life and Death.

Believing that that the life of a professor should extend beyond the boundaries of the academy lead Dr. Shrader to work with his good friend and colleague, Dr. Ashok Malhotra, to establish the Yoga and Meditation Society for the Scientific Study of Spirituality. Along with Dr. Malhotra, Dr. Shrader interviewed more than 20 scholars for the Yoga Society whose videos are being shown on the Public Access Channel. He also collaborated with Dr. Malhotra in establishing and promoting the Ninash Foundation, which is building schools for impoverished children in rural villages in India. He was the voice over for the Ninash Foundation video tape that has been shown all over India, Europe and the USA.

Dr. Shrader was a dedicated author and scholar. With Dr. Malhotra, he created Pathways to Philosophy: A Multidisciplinary Introduction, published by Prentice-Hall, which, after 14 years, is still in print. As a scholar he had authored more than a dozen books and numerous other publications and given presentations at the various national and international conferences. No matter what the venue, he was thoughtful, poised, and extraordinarily articulate. His papers often become the topic of conversation in the hallways throughout the remainder of the conference.

Starting in 1996, Dr. Shrader integrated his passion for and commitment to teaching by building the Oneonta Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. This student funded and run conference grew to be recognized as one of the premier undergraduate philosophy conferences in the world. Dr. Shrader edited and published selected conference proceedings featuring the work of promising students alongside essays by established keynote speakers. Titles in this impressive series include Children of Athena, Philosophy and the Public Realm, and Thinking outside the Box.

Dr. Shrader lived his life with dignity, devotion to duty, passion and compassion. In spite of his numerous projects and commitments, he always had time for students, colleagues, friends, and, most importantly, his family. He loved his wife Barbara with a rare, deep, and life-long love. She was his heart’s companion in all he did. Their children, Callie and Sterling, and their grandchild, Alex, were his great joy.

Each Undergraduate Philosophy Conference hosted a final awards dinner. Dr. Shrader would acknowledge the vital support of Barbara Shrader and would celebrate the hard work of each student on the conference committee. He would delight everyone with illuminating vignettes from the previous few days and hand out the awards as if they were precious jewels. However, these awards were symbols of something far more precious than any jewel. They were signs of respect and esteem from colleagues and peers. They were also secret codes of commitment to the principles that thinking does not end in the classroom. That listening and learning are part of the whole of one’s life and that doing well always includes caring deeply about those whom one affects. Doug Shrader’s life epitomized all these principles. We can say farewell to him as he said farewell to the students at each year’s conference. Although he is not physically with us anymore, what was accomplished in his all too brief life is something that has and will continue to transform the lives of each of us for years to come.

Dr. Michael Koch (, (Chair of the Philosophy Dept., SUNY, Oneonta, NY) has set up a memorial page on the Philosophy Dept. website.

1 comment:

  1. This was a fine, good man. He was a major landmark of my life as I wandered through the landscape, searching for I don't know what. I know enough now to know that I didn't know then, but this man was a beacon tower. I miss him. I miss him a lot.