Alfred University News

Alfred University Professor of Philosophy William Dibrell Passes

Alfred University Professor William Dibrell
Alfred University Professor William Dibrell

Alfred University Professor of Philosophy William Dibrell passed away Thursday at Strong Memorial Hospital, after 36-years of teaching in the University’s Division of Human Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


ALFRED, NY – Alfred University Professor of Philosophy William Dibrell passed away Thursday at Strong Memorial Hospital, after 36-years of teaching in the University’s Division of Human Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Bill was a long-standing and beloved faculty member of Alfred University,” President Mark Zupan said today. “Please join me in celebrating a life well lived, reflecting on all that Bill did to strengthen our University, and in keeping his family and Beth Ann Dobie and her family in our thoughts and prayers.”

Zupan noted Dibrell’s contributions to the University included chairing the strategic planning committee that has played a pivotal role in the creation of the University’s five-year strategic plan.

In addition, Dibrell’s colleague, Professor of History Gary Ostrower, noted Dibrell was a generous citizen of the Alfred village community, serving for years on the A. E. Crandall Hook and Ladder Co. as chief and emergency medical technician.

“Bill’s love of teaching was rivaled by his exceptional commitment to his community. He embodied the ideal of public service,” Ostrower said.

 Dibrell received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Michigan State University in 1979 and enjoyed post-doctoral work as a Visiting Fellow in National Endowment for the Humanities Seminars at Princeton and Cornell Universities. He joined the Alfred University faculty in 1983 after teaching philosophy at Central Michigan University.

As a philosophy professor, his interests were wide-ranging, spanning ethics, language, logic, anthropology, social and political philosophy, feminism, and the philosophy of mind.

His colleague, Professor of Philosophy Emrys Westacott, who serves as chairperson of the Division of Human Studies, noted Dibrell more recently had become interested in Chinese philosophy and had developed a new course in this area as well.

“As a philosopher and as a teacher, Bill's doctoral research in the philosophy of language was always evident,” Westacott said. “He valued clarity and rigor. But his students also benefited from the unusual breadth of his interests. He had real expertise in the philosophy of mind, and offered classes on a marvelous range of topics, including animal consciousness, the evolution of morality, philosophical anthropology, free will, justice, and equality. …His colleagues, students and friends will miss him greatly.”

Dibrell was a tireless friend and counselor to countless Alfred University students, serving as academic and pre-law advisor to hundreds of undergraduates through the years.

He served also as a member of the University’s Social Justice Program Committee and, beyond the University borders, the Creighton Club: New York Philosophical Association; the American Philosophical Association; the American Political Science Association; and Research Group 12 of the APSA “Biology and Politics.”

Funeral/memorial arrangements are not known at this time.