Shaner leaves legacy of leadership

March 01, 2013 | Jim Stewart

shaner
shaner

by Sarah Worth

David Shaner may have “retired” as Herring Professor of Philosophy and Asian Studies at the close of fall semester, but he is moving to an even more time-consuming and demanding job that he has created for himself.

He will continue his management consulting work, helping American businesses retain and increase American jobs — a worthy cause if there ever was one. He has consulted for Duracell, Gillette, JW Aluminum, Ryobi, and Owens Corning Composites, to name a few, and has helped them to better understand the correlation of workplace happiness, retention and profit.

He leaves quite a legacy at Furman. Most people on campus have heard the tales of the philosopher who barely sleeps (he only “breathes”), eats one meal a day, served as a deputy sheriff, was Olympic Valley USA ski team material, is an Aikido master, and could pin any one of us on the floor with a single arm sweep.

The legends are true, but even better is the reality that we’ve seen every day. Since joining the philosophy faculty in 1982, David has been a caring teacher, a prolific writer and editor, and a leader and role model for faculty and students alike. He was philosophy department chair for 15 years, during which we grew from four full-time philosophers to eight.

He was also one of the founding members of Furman’s Asian Studies department, now a vibrant program. And he brought the Place of Peace, a beautiful former Buddhist temple, from Japan to Furman — an undertaking that involved fundraising, consciousness raising, and five years of hard work.

We will miss David’s leadership, strength and wit. As one of his former students — I took the introductory philosophy course from him in 1990 — I know firsthand the impact of this dedicated and caring teacher. I would not be in the department without him, and I would likely not even be a philosopher.

The power of good teaching is the real legacy that he leaves for all of us.

The author, a 1992 graduate, is chair of the philosophy department.