Barry McNamara  |   Published March 28, 2022

Ann Garry’s Gift

Gift from 1965 Monmouth alumna supports fund for ‘socially engaged’ students, faculty.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A pioneering scholar in feminist philosophy has started a fund to support Monmouth College faculty and students.

ANN GARRY: 1965 Monmouth alumna is emerita professor philosophy at California State University, L... ANN GARRY: 1965 Monmouth alumna is emerita professor philosophy at California State University, Los Angeles.A planned gift from Ann Garry of Beverly Hills, California, a 1965 Monmouth graduate, will “benefit students and faculty participating in socially engaged study and work.” The gift is part of the College’s Light This Candle Campaign.

Garry is an emerita professor of philosophy at California State University, Los Angeles, where she was the founding director of the Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities. An early entrant into feminist philosophy, she was responsible for a significant amount of foundational work in the new field, including the development of early courses in feminist philosophy, early efforts to integrate feminist philosophy into other philosophical areas, and the creation of a new journal, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, which remains the premier journal in the field.

Garry said that part of the motivation behind her gift is a simple desire to pay it forward.

“I got a scholarship to attend Monmouth,” said Garry, who came to campus in 1961 from Jacksonville, Illinois. “People long ago gave money to fund that scholarship, and I want to give something back, too.”

She said she likes to support institutions and organizations with which she has a personal connection and “who aren’t going to waste it.”

“I got a scholarship to attend Monmouth. People long ago gave money to fund that scholarship, and I want to give something back, too.” Ann Garry

“I’ve been back to Monmouth a few times in recent years for a variety of reasons, and I like the spirit of the place,” said Garry. “The College is doing a really good job these days of trying to stay abreast of what students need, and doing that within the framework of a liberal arts education.”

Learning from Sam Thompson

One of Garry’s trips to campus was in 2019 to present the College’s annual Sam Thompson Lecture. The series honors the legendary Monmouth philosophy professor and 1926 graduate who taught at his alma mater for 46 years. In between graduating and teaching, Thompson earned a master’s degree from Princeton University and a doctorate from Yale University.

“He treated students with respect,” said Garry as she recalled her days as a philosophy major. “He didn’t make you do silly assignments that were trivial or petty. His assignments really made sense for what you should be learning. And that’s something I tried to emulate when I taught.”

She continued other aspects of Thompson’s teaching, as well.

“He was critical, but supportive, also,” she said. “That’s an important combination to have. He was a good mentor.”

While some female students found they weren’t taken as seriously as their male counterparts in the early 1960s, Garry said that wasn’t the case with how Thompson made her feel.

“I’ve been back to Monmouth a few times in recent years for a variety of reasons, and I like the spirit of the place. The College is doing a really good job these days of trying to stay abreast of what students need, and doing that within the framework of a liberal arts education.” Ann Garry

“He had daughters, and even though they were older by that time, he knew what it was like to be 18 to 22 years old and be a smart girl,” she said. “Although he lived long enough to know that I became a philosophy professor, he would have been surprised that we could create an entire field of feminist philosophy and that I then continued to specialize in it. But it’s who I am.”

Becoming more open-minded

Garry said another takeaway from her Monmouth education was learning that “every student is not alike. Or, more frankly, that not every student is like me. This can be surprisingly hard, but very important, for a teacher to learn.”

But Garry recalls a moment when it was driven home, as she had an impromptu tutoring session with another member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

“I remember trying to help one of my sorority sisters with the logic course,” she said. “I learned right then that people’s ‘learning styles’ are different.”

Garry also recalled being exposed to views from the other side of the aisle in an introductory political science course taught by Harry Manley.

“We read Supreme Court cases that taught me that many sides of an issue can be argued equally well. This was important to me because I’d come from Jacksonville, a typical little town in Illinois where almost everybody had the same political viewpoint, so that’s something I first figured out while I was at Monmouth. … I became more open-minded in college, and I think that’s something that’s served me well my entire life.”

“I became more open-minded in college, and I think that’s something that’s served me well my entire life.” Ann Garry

Garry graduated magna cum laude from Monmouth, then received a master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1966 and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Maryland in 1970.

During her tenure at Cal State L.A., Garry served several terms as the chair of the philosophy department. She has also held teaching appointments at UCLA and USC. After retiring from Cal State, she served as the Humphrey Chair of Feminist Philosophy at the University of Waterloo in Canada and held Fulbright lectureships at the University of Tokyo and Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest.

The College’s Light This Candle Campaign, which will significantly bolster Monmouth’s endowment, aims to raise a minimum of $75 million by Dec. 31. With more than $73 million received to date, the campaign has reached 97% of its goal.

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