nelson_alan_11_021Through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Harold E. Glass of Philadelphia, the Graduate School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has established a three-year term professorship for a faculty member and a corresponding fellowship for the graduate student the professor selects to mentor.

Alan Nelson, a faculty member in the University’s philosophy department since 2006, is the inaugural Harold J. Glass USAF Faculty Mentor/Graduate Fellow Distinguished Term Professor. Nelson selected doctoral student Krasimira Filcheva to receive the professorship’s first graduate fellowship.

Harold E. and Holly Glass provided a gift to establish the professorship, which they named in memory of Harold E. Glass’ father.  A Carolina doctoral graduate in political science, Harold E. Glass is a research professor of health policy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

Glass serves on the University’s Board of Visitors and the Graduate School’s Graduate Education Advancement Board. Deeply committed supporters of graduate education at Carolina, the Glasses have given enough to create 27 summer research fellowships within the Graduate School during the past four years.

“Harold and Holly understand what graduate students need to succeed. Time and time again, they have proven their exceptional commitment to graduate education at Carolina,” said Graduate School Dean Steve Matson. “The Glasses’ generous gift and guidance have enabled the Graduate School to create this innovative approach to faculty and graduate student support.”

The faculty member selected for the professorship receives a stipend and research fund for three years. The graduate student selected for the fellowship receives a competitive annual stipend for three years, full tuition, fees and health insurance coverage.

Harold J. Glass (1914-1980), namesake of the new professorship, served heroically in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Stationed in the Philippines at the outbreak of the war, he endured the notorious Bataan Death March and Cabanatuan prison camp. He rose to command a Strategic Air Command squadron in the U.S. Air Force before his retirement from active duty. He continued working for the Air Force as a civilian in his capacity as a program supervisor of intercontinental ballistic missiles guidance systems. He is remembered as a much-beloved brother, husband, father and grandfather.

“My father experienced extraordinary events in a lifetime of service to his country, family, comrades and friends,” said Harold E. Glass. “He was never one to draw attention to himself or his experiences.  So the opportunity for my wife and me to honor him with this professorship means much to the two of us and to others in his family. With this professorship, his service to others continues.” 

Matson said that Nelson was an outstanding selection as the first recipient of the professorship given its focus on mentorship. Nelson is a past recipient of the Graduate School’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring, among other University teaching awards.

“Alan motivates his students and is diligent in working on their behalf,” he said. “I anticipate that through this opportunity, Alan will foster much meaningful dialogue on best practices regarding graduate student mentoring. I’m also very happy for Krasimira, whose promising research will benefit tremendously from the honor she has received.”

Nelson began his career working on the foundations of social theory, but he has become best known for his publications on the great philosophical systems of early modern European thinkers. He is particularly concerned with how their philosophical thought was influenced by the interaction of new scientific discoveries with traditional religious and philosophical doctrines.

His previous teaching experience includes the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Irvine; Stanford University; the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Southern California. Nelson has directed the dissertations of more than 20 doctoral students, as well as the theses of nine master’s degree students.

Filcheva’s research explores whether or not features or aspects of reality could exist that humans could not represent in thought or language. Her topic is at the intersection of diverse fields of philosophy: language, mind and metaphysics.

At the conclusion of the three-year term, a new professor will be appointed and will select another doctoral student to receive a three-year fellowship and be mentored by that professor.

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