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A Tribute to Dr. William Frank
Jun 3, 2024

The following is adapted from a speech given at the 2024 King/Haggar Ceremony, at which Dr. Frank was named distinguished professor emeritus of philosophy.

38 years ago, after nine years at Benedictine College, Dr. William Frank arrived at the University of Dallas. Over the course of nearly four decades at UD and more than five and a half decades in the academy, his teaching and scholarship never lost their vital connection with one another.

In medieval philosophy, he is an internationally respected expert on the thought of Blessed John Duns Scotus and coauthor with Alan Wolter of a book on Scotus’ metaphysics. He is also a skilled teacher, admired by students and colleagues alike for his skill at introducing students to the challenging problems and texts of medieval philosophy.

In Philosophy of Education, Dr. Frank brought philosophical depth, and his own experience as an elementary and high school teacher, to the formation of students in UD’s Education Department. He also, as translator, brought to the English-speaking world an early response to Rousseau’s Emile, written in Italian by Hyancinth Gerdil.

Perhaps most significant is his third area of interest: the intersection of personalism and Catholic social thought. This interest bore fruit in a series of graduate courses, but also in his long run as co-director of the German-American Colloquium. His many contributions to the proceedings of the Colloquium include “A Wider Public for Religion and Liberal Democracy,” “Personal Being and the Principle of Subsidiarity” and “The Personalist Dimensions of Property.” At the undergraduate level, his patient reflection enriched countless students in our Core course on the human person — not least during his six years on the Rome campus — and dozens more in his course for seniors on Augustine’s Confessions.

During the years we shared in the Philosophy Department, I often saw Dr. Frank’s face light up in the presence of a colleague or student, but I have never discerned in him the least pleasure in having to sit through a meeting. Despite this, he spent two and a half years as director of the Rome Program, six as chair of the Philosophy Department and a year and a half as director of the Institute of Philosophic Studies and interim dean of the Braniff Graduate School. More recently, he served for three consecutive terms as chair of the Faculty Senate. He has been, in other words, a model of leadership without ambition, thoughtfully stepping forward when the time was right and then just as thoughtfully stepping aside.

Dr. Frank, we are in your debt: for the many gifts you have given us, but even more (to channel the late Robert Spaemann) for the promise you have been to us. We will miss you greatly.

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May 20, 2024

The Cowan-Blakley Memorial Library was one of just 50 institutions around the country to receive a recent grant from Theatre Communications Group (TCG).

Apr 29, 2024

The University of Dallas is the only Catholic university to receive an A+ grade from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

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The Institute for Homiletics at the University of Dallas has reached its goal of establishing a $7.5 million permanent endowment, a key need in the effort to improve preaching in the Catholic Church.

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