Class of 2013 Faculty Development Fund

Dr. Elizabeth Jelinek
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
College of Arts and Humanities

A class gift is a student body’s way of not only leaving behind a campus legacy, but also of thanking the University and faculty for classroom and life lessons learned. Many gifts are often tangible items such as furniture, artwork or lab equipment. For the Class of 2013, however, the goal was more lofty: a gift that better reflected their CNU experience and their embrace of leadership, scholarship and service, something that would recognize in others what the students had learned to find within themselves.

The Class of 2013 collected a record amount of support from their peers, parents and friends and created the Class of 2013 Faculty Development Fund. This fund recognizes one faculty member from each college each year who distinguishes him or herself in student mentoring and excellence in service to the campus community, as well as for a proposal for an upcoming mentorship opportunity beyond the classroom.

Abstract by design, philosophy is generally something one informally debates rather than formally practices. But for Dr. Elizabeth Jelinek, it is her bread and butter — something she lives and breathes: “My main area of specialization is Plato’s cosmology; I also have research interests in contemporary philosophy of science,” she says.

Most recently, Jelinek has published articles in such highly regarded peer-reviewed journals as Apeiron and Southwest Philosophical Review, plus given talks on her research at the American Philosophical Association Meeting, the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Colloquium, and several colleges and universities. These accomplishments, along with a Faculty Development Fund award, are symbolic of a deep investment in her field and students.

Jelinek embraces CNU’s mission of inspiring young men and women to lead lives of significance. She notes, “Recognizing that many students thrive from intellectual challenges that extend beyond the regular classroom curriculum, I — with encouragement and support from the faculty and administration — have created and continue to create opportunities for students that enrich them both academically and personally.”

Devoted to her work, Jelinek has teamed with undergraduate co-authors on a $155,000 National Science Foundation grant proposal. She has also tapped students to both assist with published research and co-author papers, guided students through submitting their own work to undergraduate journals and conferences, and mentored them regarding their post-CNU plans.

Thanks to the Faculty Development Fund, she and a group of students will conduct research on Plato’s metaphysics, her area of expertise. “The research environment will be collaborative; we will meet regularly to exchange ideas about our latest findings. However, each student will have the freedom to develop his or her own argument on the topic based on the research he or she is conducting,” she says. They hope to present their work at the International Conference on Ancient and Medieval Philosophy this fall.

“Participation in this grant project will expose students to the research process in professional philosophy and offer them the opportunity to contribute to such research,” Jelinek says. “Moreover, while many of these students have presented their work at undergraduate conferences, this grant offers them the opportunity to rise to the challenge of presenting at an international philosophy conference.”