Foundation scholar made AAH Fellow

November 29, 2013

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Emeritus Professor Horst Ruthrof finds time to think on the Indian Ocean.

Emeritus Professor Horst Ruthrof has been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (AAH), among the highest honours in the Humanities in Australia.

Recognised as one of the nation’s leading literary theorists and philosophers of language, Professor Ruthrof helped establish the Literature Program at Murdoch University and has been a distinguished supervisor of more than 35 postgraduate students, nurturing a generation of young academics.

Professor Ruthrof said the election was an honour.

“It is gratifying to be recognised for my research work and for representing Australia as an international voice in the fields of Literature and Philosophy,” he said.

“I am proud of my research, teaching and record of successfully completing post-graduate students, as well as launching a Literature Program which has produced a dynamic generation of notable scholars.”

“Despite humble origins, we have seated more Chairs nationally and internationally in the Humanities than the majority of leading universities in Australia.”

Professor Ruthrof said joining Murdoch University as Foundation staff was the highlight of his career.

“The first five years in particular were incredibly inspiring, with all members of staff running on pure adrenaline, creating this new venture on a sandy pine plantation,” he said.

“I recall starting with tutorials, sitting on the sand with a mix of students – half school leavers and half mature-age. We had some wonderful debates.

“This spirit carried on in the corridors of the arts building, which were lively with creativity and wit. The place thrived on critical exchange. It was a wonderful and highly productive time for the Humanities and for us as academics.”

Professor Ruthrof said another highlight was establishing the Philosophy Program in 1990 and leading it as its first Chair.

“Murdoch University had been founded with philosophy embedded in all areas, running from the Humanities through to the Veterinary School,” he said.

“By the late 1980s, certain pressures were coming to bear on the higher education sector and we felt the need and opportunity to create a Philosophy program in its own right, which I’m happy to say, continues to thrive to this day.”

Professor Ruthrof retired as an Emeritus Professor in 2004, but has maintained close ties with the University, recently giving the opening address at the 2013 Philosophy Colloquium.

“I retired with the intention of sailing my 42-foot catamaran to Europe, but this ultimately turned into modest journeys along the Australian coast,” he said.

“I continue to research and to publish, which is my retirement contribution to Murdoch University for giving me a wonderful career.”

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