William Whisner 1938-1999

Professor William Whisner, 61, died suddenly Wednesday, December 29, 1999 of complications from Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) in Salt Lake City.

Bill was born April 30, 1938 in Sandusky, Ohio, the son of Noel and Jeanette Whisner, who are deceased. He graduated from Sandusky High School in 1956, where he was an all-state football player. He graduated from Kenyon College in June, 1960 and then studied Philosophy at the University of Texas where he received his Ph.D. in 1970. He joined the faculty at the University of Utah in 1964, retiring at the end of Autumn semester, 1999. He has also taught at Union College and the University of Cincinnati. Bill Whisner was a superlative teacher, much loved and respected by three generations of University of Utah students.

He frequently taught the large Introduction to Philosophy course to 350 or more people, and managed to get to know everyone's name and make each student feel personally involved. Bill's teaching strengths were fully recognized. He won the Ramona Cannon Award for Teaching Excellence in the College of Humanities in 1980, the University's Distinguished Teacher Award in 1983, the Distinguished Honors Teaching Award in 1990 and the Calvin and Jeneal Hatch Prize in Teaching in 1997. He was the Carnegie Professor of the Year for the state of Utah in 1994 - 95. He was the founding director of the University's Center for Teaching Excellence and held that position from 1993 until 1995. He conducted teaching workshops for the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1986 - 1990 and was a member of the editorial board of the journal Teaching Philosophy. In the most recent issue of the University magazine, Continuum, Bill was named to the list of the 17 greatest professors during the 150 year history of the University of Utah.

Bill was widely known for his research in the area of Philosophical Psychology. His particular interests were self-deception and the emotions. He published widely in journals in philosophy, psychology and educational theory. Among his many teaching specialties were ethics, philosophy of mind and philosophy of education.

Bill was not only a great teacher but a wonderful human being. He had a real talent for friendship. He was unfailingly kind, sympathetic, understanding and cheerful, with an infectious and explosive laugh. He had the rare gift of making you feel that you were the person above all others he most wanted to talk to just then. Few people can have been more loved. Bill loved philosophy and he loved ideas but most of all he loved people and was loved in return.

We in the Philosophy Department at the University of Utah deeply miss our friend and colleague.