Birth of the IPA

On Saturday, 7 December 1957, a meeting was held on the campus of Illinois College, Jacksonville, Illinois. The Illinois Philosophy Conference was formally organized at that time. The following is a list of those individuals in attendance and their respective institutions:

Illinois College: Malcolm F. Steward and Clyde Steckel
Knox College: Arthur Dibden and Raymond E. Olson
Lincoln College: James Backes, David Russell, and Robert A. Karabinus
MacMurray College: Louis W. Norris and Leroy Garrett
Monmouth College: Samuel M. Thompson
Northern Illinois University: J.W. Merritt
Northwestern University: Douglas Morgan
Quincy College: Rev. Geron Fournelle, Rev. Pacific Hug, Rev. Philibert Hoebing, and Rev. Brinkman
Shimer College: Frank Mangrum
Southern Illinois University: Willis Moore, G.K. Plochmann, Henry N. Wieman, and William H. Harris

The morning session was devoted to the question of forming a philosophy conference in the state of Illinois. Professor Willis Moore of Southern Illinois University led the discussions. The following is a summary of his remarks that are part of the minutes of this organizational meeting:

Professor Moore brought out the fact that there are certain rather obvious values of a state philosophy organization for the people who teach in smaller colleges of the state. Because of the relative inexpensiveness of these local meetings as compared with that of the Division more such teachers can attend. The smaller groups involved offer more opportunities for reading and discussing papers. Moreover, these state meetings enable the isolated teacher to renew contacts with live research work going on in the larger universities of the state and to exchange information and experiences concerning the practical problems involved in teaching philosophy.

He also brought out that there are comparable values in a state conference for those who are located in larger educational institutions that are not so clearly recognized. Whereas the teacher in the smaller school may be isolated from other philosophers the one in the larger center may, by reason of his preoccupation with the specialized interests of a department, be just as effectively isolated both from subject matter of interest and from the grass-roots educational situation with which the teacher in the small school is familiar. Since many students enrolled in the graduate schools come from such smaller colleges and many of the graduates will go out to teach in these smaller centers it is good for teachers in the big universities to rub elbows with representatives from out-state and learn more about the smaller institution.

His conclusion was that it would be to the advantage of all concerned that there be a state conference.

Those present at the conference offered “comments…supporting his contention.” Thus, the motion that an annual state philosophy conference be organized was passed and the Illinois Philosophy Conference came into existence. Membership in this organization was to include “all persons in or near Illinois who are teaching philosophy or who are interested in philosophy.” In November of 1974, the name of this organization was changed to the Illinois Philosophical Association.