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May 21, 2003


Paul Leclerc and Daniel Schnebly

Thank you Dean Crowley.

Good evening and a warm welcome to everyone.

First, it is my great pleasure to celebrate and commend all of the well-deserving award recipients here tonight for their hard work, creativity, talent, and dedication to excellence. You are an inspiration and example for all of us.

I am honored to present the first annual Clara Leclerc Philosophy Scholarship award this evening. Clara was a wonderful mother and person who inspired me as a young philosophy student striving for personal and professional excellence. Clara’s scholarship is a tribute and testimony to her spirit of generosity, genuineness, fairness, joyful playfulness, courage, personal integrity, and work ethic. It recognizes and rewards student achievement and excellence in the liberal arts and, specifically, in the study of philosophy. Therefore, tonight, my family and I are delighted to recognize an intelligent, sensitive, and talented CCRI student, Daniel Schnebly, as the first recipient of the Clara Leclerc Philosophy Scholarship.

Daniel distinguished himself as an art major and philosophy minor at CCRI and will transfer to URI in the fall, where he plans to major in English and minor in philosophy. In addition to an impressive GPA that reflects his broad academic aptitude, this last semester Daniel generously presented his creative work to the college community on two occasions. He read an original poem, inspired by his reading in the Providence Journal’s announcement of the meeting that he was a poet, at the Day of Celebration of the Indomitable Spirit colloquium February 27. I had the good fortune of attending this colloquium and greatly enjoyed Daniel’s poem and participation. And on April 9 he presented an original paper entitled Dada and Experimental Music in the Art History Colloquium for Distinguished Research and Writing. In this connection, I’d like to share some brief comments on his contribution from his Art professors Nick Sevigney and Natalie Coletta:

We as a department are also proud that you voluntarily worked toward further developing your paper and designing an illustrated talk to present to your colleagues, your professors, and the College at large. Finding the time and the stamina to devote to this project reflects your commitment to learning, personal development, and scholarly exchange. You are a bright young thinker and an exemplary member of our academic community."

And, on a more personal note, I had the privilege of teaching Daniel in Logic class. He excelled in the course, although with perhaps some slight trepidation over argument analysis. During the course we also had the informal opportunity to discuss art and existential philosophy since Daniel, again demonstrating his “indomitable spirit,” had first explored these weighty matters on my faculty Web site. Daniel’s exuberant and exploratory spirit shone through our brief conversations.

Given his searching and creative spirit, and as a modest token of our admiration and affection, we want to present Daniel with a collection of existential philosophy that inspired me as an undergraduate philosophy student at URI in the late 1970s. But first we want to share some wise words on the philosophical life from Karl Jaspers, a great existential philosopher of the early twentieth-century:

"Philosophy is the decision to awaken our primal source, to find our way back to ourselves, and to help ourselves by inner action.

True, our first duty in life is to perform our practical tasks, to meet the demands of the day. But if we desire to lead a philosophical life we shall not content ourselves with practical tasks…. And to lead a philosophical life means also to take seriously our experience of men, of happiness and hurt, of success and failure, of the obscure and confused. It means not to forget but to possess ourselves inwardly of our experience, not to let ourselves be distracted but to think problems through, not to take things for granted but to elucidate them….

To philosophize is then at once to learn how to live and to know how to die. Because of the uncertainty of temporal existence life is always an experiment.

In this experiment the essential is that we dare to immerse ourselves in it, neither shunning nor closing our eyes to the extreme, and that we let unlimited integrity govern our vision, our questioning and our answering."

Karl Jaspers, Way to Wisdom (1951): 121-122, 125.

“Unlimited integrity,” Jasper’s phrase describes my mother’s character very well. If she were with us tonight, Clara would probably say: “What a nice young man, I’d like to mother him.” In that spirit, it is my distinct honor to present the first annual Clara Leclerc Philosophy Scholarship to Daniel Schnebly.

Paul Leclerc
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Department of Social Sciences