My name is Bethany Gilmour Williamson

My name is Bethany Gilmour Williamson

I graduated from Cedarville in 2007 with a B.A. in English and minors in Music, Bible, and the Honors Program. After graduating, I went on to work as an editorial assistant at a major publishing company for two years. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in English at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Contrary to my initial expectations, Cedarville proved to be a difficult environment for a student like myself who had a penchant for challenging the status quo and asking probing questions about why we do and think and believe the things we do. I look back with deep gratitude and respect for the handful of professors in the Bible and English departments who not only welcomed my questions but joyfully embraced them as part of the process of intellectual and spiritual growth to which they had committed themselves as academics and as believers. These were also the professors who took a genuine interest in my well-being as a person and who invited me, in my skepticism and doubt, to see in their own lives and practical ethics the fruit of their faith: love, grace, kindness, patience, humility. Dr. Mills is one of these professors. I had the privilege of sitting under his teaching both in the first-year MOMM (honors) courses and later in his upper-level course on Philosophy and Literature. I still have all of my lecture notes from those classes, not only because Dr. Mills has the rare ability to brilliantly distill what seemed like impossibly complicated ideas to profound and provocative nuggets that were manageable for an undergraduate mind, but also because his pedagogy, along with that of a few other CU professors, continues to inspire me as I teach university students myself.

Aside from my own story (and the role Dr. Mills and the Philosophy program played in that story), I am disheartened by the recent proposal to eliminate or downsize Cedarville’s Philosophy program. I do not see how Cedarville can continue to market itself as a “university,” let alone one that is committed to “Inspiring Greatness,” without prioritizing and valuing—not only rhetorically, but also financially—academic departments like Philosophy (and English) that are devoted to cultivating both critical academic thinking and the ability to discern what is true in the midst of myriad attractively packaged falsehoods. Unlike many of the majors Cedarville offers, Philosophy is far more than a body of content one must master; it is a skill set that involves the ability to develop and articulate a cohesive worldview. As a discipline, then, the study of Philosophy provides students with thinking and communicating abilities that are highly marketable and increasingly rare among college students & graduates; moreover, it is the very lifeblood of what Cedarville claims it is all about. It is one of the few disciplines Cedarville offers whose chief aim is to guide students in the tradition, practice, challenges, and joy of pursuing the truth it professes to be at the heart of a biblical worldview. Despite some financial cost (if that is the motivation behind this proposal), to cut the Philosophy program, or to continue it without the capable leadership of Dr. Mills and his colleagues, would be to cripple Cedarville’s faculty and students and jeopardize the school’s reputation at a time when Cedarville has an opportunity and responsibility to engage, rather than turn away from, the world outside the bubble.

For the sake of intellectual inquiry and students like me, yes, but also for the sake of those students who do not yet know what it looks like to seek truth with their hearts, souls, and minds, as well as for the sake of the generations of faithful men and women who have built Cedarville into what it is, I urge you to reconsider what I believe is a short-sighted proposal to cut the Philosophy department. I hope Cedarville’s administrators and trustees will recognize and affirm the gift they possess in their current Philosophy professors and seek to expose more CU students to their teaching. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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