New school year, new faculty

By: Michelle Morano

- David Svolba has enthusiasm in his philosophy. (Photo of Prof. Svolba by Michelle Morano)

Are you tired of regularly snoozing through an entire 75 minute class only to wake up to a 35 page reading assignment and a five page paper? Perhaps you had better get yourself enrolled in one of Professor David Svolba’s philosophy classes.

“[Professor Svolba] really engages the class with real life scenarios and examples that make the concept we’re studying easier to understand,” said Meagan Resendes, a student of Svolba’s Philosophy of Human Nature class.

“My general goal in every philosophy course I’ve ever taught is to convey to my students my own passion and enthusiasm for philosophical reflection on the ‘Big Questions’. This is how I was ‘initiated’ into philosophy by my earliest professors and my life is much the better for it.” Svolba said.

Svolba, who originally aspired to be the “next great American novelist”, enrolled in his very first philosophy course during his first semester at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland. “Other college courses addressed familiar topics. Philosophy, I found introduced me to questions I had never thought to ask and taught me how to think about these questions in ways I had never thought to think.” Svolba said.

After graduating with a B.A. in philosophy from Salisbury University, Svolba continued to pursue his passion for philosophy and earned a PhD from the University of Chicago.

Svolba comes to Fitchburg State University after having spent 4 ½ years teaching at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Spring 2011 Semester teaching in Krakow, Poland.

And what are Prof. David Svolba’s first impressions of the university thus far?

“I couldn’t be happier”, Svolba said, “Admission and fellow faculty have gone out of their way to make new faculty feel welcome and appreciated. My students want to be in the classroom as much as I do (Most of them anyway).”

Svolba has an optimistic and buoyant classroom disposition that makes students actually want to attend his class.

“Philosophy of Human Nature is one of the few classes at this school that I have actually looked forward to going to”, said Richard Graham, one of Svolba’s Philosophy of Human Nature students.

“I want my students to leave my course having come to appreciate that it is very, very difficult to think clearly and rigorously about questions of fundamental human importance, but that attempting to do so can be an exhilarating and inestimably valuable experience.” Prof. Svolba said.

There are a few possible extracurricular plans “in the works” for Svolba. He is considering merging his two great passions: movies and philosophy, to start a Philosophy/Movie Club. “There are so many great philosophically provocative films—my idea is that I could meet with students once every week or every 2 weeks, watch a great movie and then sit back for an hour or so and informally discuss some of the film’s more or less overtly philosophical themes.” Svolba said of his aspiration.