CLARA LECLERC PHILOSOPHY SCHOLARSHIP
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
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
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Department of Social Sciences