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In Memoriam: Dorothy L. Grover (1936-2017)

Nov 22, 2017

It is with great sorrow that we record the death of Dorothy Grover on November 10, 2017, at Christchurch, Canterbury in New Zealand, surrounded by her family.

Dorothy Lucille Grover was born on New Zealand’s North Island on September 9, 1936. She received a Diploma of Teaching (1958) from Wellington Teacher’s College, New Zealand, and a BA (1962) and MA (1966) from Victoria University of Wellington with a thesis on “Entailment”. She came to the US to work on logic with Nuel Belnap and Alan Ross Anderson at the University of Pittsburgh, where she wrote her dissertation, “Topics in Propositional Quantification,” under Belnap’s guidance, receiving her PhD in 1970. After three years teaching at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Dorothy joined the philosophy department of the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle in 1972 as a Visiting Assistant Professor. At UIC, she progressed through the ranks to become Professor of Philosophy, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and finally Professor Emerita when she returned to New Zealand to continue her research and be closer to her family. She chaired the department from 1980 to1985 and again from 1991 to1994, and also served as Philosophy’s director of graduate studies and director of undergraduate studies, and on the LAS Executive Committee, the Grad College Executive Committee, and the UIC Senate. What this mere list of titles cannot convey is how much care she put into each of these jobs, and how much of the accumulated lore she acquired she was able to apply for the good of the department.

Whether in the office of chair or merely as one among many colleagues, Dorothy had a tremendous effect in shaping the department. She achieved this through immense personal effort combined with an all-but-unlimited willingness to consult with colleagues not only in department meetings but in preparatory conversations, whether one-on-one or in small groups. Dorothy herself was eminently fair; and open, frank, and free from affectation. Her extremely consultative style often brought others over, ultimately, to her position or her to theirs, and always was a key element in maintaining a prevailing climate of friendliness, respect and collegiality within the department.

Dorothy was a tireless and notably successful advocate for many forms of inclusiveness, managed in a way that promoted rather than being in tension with the ultimate goal of recruiting the best possible philosophers to the department. She attached significance to getting the department to move beyond concentration only on research and the graduate program, to start paying more attention to the undergraduates as well. She was a leader in the department’s making appointments to help it grow beyond its early concentration in philosophy of physics and allied areas to develop additional strengths in ethics and in the history of philosophy. And perhaps of greatest significance was her unwavering commitment to sustaining and building the department’s diversity in gender, race, and ethnicity--“Circle” was famous as a fair and nurturing environment for all, and this was seen as due primarily to the presence of Dorothy Grover. During her time, the department was as collegial, as diverse, and as successful as it has ever been.

Dorothy's research spanned philosophy of language, truth, and philosophy of logic, as well as metaphysics and epistemology. That these areas were often seen as the province of male philosophers, especially early in her career, never deterred her. She is most well-known for her development of the prosentential theory of truth, first published in 1975 in a groundbreaking paper co-authored with Nuel Belnap and Joseph Camp. According to this theory, the word “true” typically does not function as a property-expressing predicate. Rather, it combines with other words to form prosentences: expressions that function like pronouns, but at the level of sentences rather than nouns. Her book, A Prosentential Theory of Truth, published in 1992 by Princeton University Press, collects together many of her essays along with a new introduction. Dorothy’s work on issues relating to truth continued long after her 1998 retirement in such works as “How Significant is the Liar?” (in Deflationism and Paradox, 2008) and “On Describing the World” (in Truth and Pluralism, 2013). She made forays into a very different topic with “Death, and Life” (Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 1987) and “Posthumuous Harm” (The Philosophical Quarterly, 1989).

Dorothy’s son, Tony Rider, in a moving eulogy, expressed the tremendous impact she had on his life and relayed tributes to Dorothy he had received from many others. She will long be remembered with affection and gratitude by the many, many people she helped over her lifetime, ranging from fellow-philosophers to human beings in all walks of life.