By: Antonio Iannetta – Layout Editor
At the stroke of 7 p.m., this reverie was broken- a man, standing tall, strode into the double doors of Raubinger, carrying two pizza boxes in his hands and a smile on his face. He entered the Raubinger Seminar room to greet a multitude of students, mirroring his expression- class was about to begin, and all looked forward to the discussion.
Such a scene is common to the classes of Dr. John Peterman, a philosophy professor and honors and cluster director for the Department of Philosophy at WPUNJ. These occurrences will come to an end, however, as Peterman is retiring. Nevertheless, Peterman has made an impact on the university and on students alike.
“I personally can’t attest enough to how great a professor Dr. Peterman is,” said Matthew Norton, 21, history major and student of Peterman’s. “He is not only considerate, insightful, knowledgeable and sincere, but also conducts himself in a way which makes him a true role model.”
Peterman began working at WPUNJ in 1980, where he came on as a philosophy professor. The situation surrounding his initial hiring was unique, however.
“My hiring was unusual in that I was hired through the philosophy department, but half of my teaching is in [the] Humanities Honors program,” Peterman said. “I was hired to teach two classes each semester, and then also to teach in the philosophy department, which I’ve been doing ever since.”
Over the course of his teaching at WPU, Peterman has been involved in a variety of projects.
“Universities are slow to change, so making an impact is a very relative term,” Peterman said. “I’ve been involved with general education reform, I’ve been involved in working with the Senate, I’ve been involved with working with the Honors College.”
Peterman was the second head of the Honors College. He has also made strides in improving the curriculum for philosophy and Honors College students. He believes that his work has made strides, but encourages the belief that many others could make equal changes as well.
“As a professor he doesn’t simply lecture his students but he instead aims to create an interactive discussion, which is much more beneficial for long lasting learning,” Norton said. “His classes are truly enlightening and the lessons are both interesting and often life applicable.”
Norton said that he had Dr. Peterman for multiple classes, including two Humanities Honors seminars, another Humanities course, and the Freshman Seminar. Peterman was also his honors track advisor, allowing for a more personal interaction that only a few students at WPUNJ have had the honor of experiencing.
In addition to teaching and advising, Dr. Peterman has written two books over his time at WPU. These books, titled “On Plato” published 2000, and “On Ancient Greek Philosophy” published 2008, are a collection of just some of his research into and love of philosophy. In particular, “On Plato” is a book that he put a great deal of time into.
“It was basically an introduction to Plato for both people who knew something about philosophy and people who don’t,” Peterman said. “It was a book that introduced some of the more simple parts of Plato, but also got into some of the more complicated interpretations of some of his work.”
Both books are available for students to peruse in the Cheng Library. Peterman added that when he taught Ancient Greek Philosophy or courses on Plato, he would draw from his books to explain the concepts taught, and encourage students to find and read a copy.
Even if a student has no particular interest in philosophy, Peterman encourages students to take a course or two in the field for their own personal betterment.
“One of the roles of philosophy is to be critical- that is, to evaluate the quality of ideas, and that one of the most serious places where it has to perform that function is in relation to oneself,” Peterman said. “Philosophy is not only concerned with developing interesting ways of looking at the world and looking at yourself, but also critiquing those ideas as well.”
A dinner is being held to honor Dr. Peterman’s contributions to the university and the field at large; this event will be at Justin’s Restaurant at 234 Lafayette Ave in Hawthorne, NJ. Tickets, which cost $38, are available by contacting Elizabeth Browne at firstname.lastname@example.org