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Haq to speak about Smolensky as part of Great Lectures Series

Barry McNamara
10/04/2018
Ira Smolensky was photographed by Kent Kreigshauser shortly before his 2017 retirement for full-time teaching.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Some of the talks in Monmouth College’s new Great Lectures Series are repeat performances of classroom sessions. But the next lecture in the series, which will be delivered Oct. 6 by Monmouth political science professor Farhat Haq, will be a premiere and a tribute.

At 10 a.m. in the Pattee Auditorium of the Center for Science and Business, Haq will speak about her late department colleague Ira Smolensky, who died March 1 at the age of 69.

“One of the deepest of human desires is to be accepted for who we are – to be recognized and appreciated as a whole person, with the talents, challenges, potentialities and quirks that make us individuals,” said Haq. “During his 33 years of service at Monmouth College, Ira never failed to seek out, to value and to delight in the individuality of all those he interacted with. This was a gift he gave to hundreds of students over the years – his non-judgmental respect.”

Haq said the lecture’s title, “Ira Smolensky and the Meaning of Living a Virtuous Life,” is a reference to the 2004 book Character Strengths and Virtues by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman.

“Peterson and Seligman present readers with six virtues that all human beings should strive towards: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence,” she said.

Haq will discuss how Smolensky’s life exemplified those six virtues. By relying on her recollections, narratives by students who became his friends, and his family’s contribution on the meaning of baseball for Ira, Haq hopes to illustrate how following Smolensky’s example “can make us better human beings, better teachers and better citizens.”

“Ira enriched the lives of generations of students, as was abundantly clear from the scores of stories shared by those who gathered, in Monmouth or online, to comfort one another upon his passing earlier this year,” she said.

Following her talk, there will be an opportunity to share more of those stories at an 11:30 a.m. gathering in the Wallace Hall lobby.

Haq received her bachelor’s degree from State University of New York-Fredonia and her Ph.D. from Cornell University. In what he called one of his proudest moments, Smolensky said he had the foresight to see that Haq could be a good fit for Monmouth, which led to her being hired in 1987 to teach political science.

The author of several articles, Haq is in the process of publishing her first book, Blasphemy Politics: Sacral State and Secular Sharia in Pakistan.