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For Liz Crandall ’00 and her flock at Auburn’s Southeastern Raptor Center, love sometimes means having to say goodbye. b y t a y l o r d u n g j e n with bird portraits by randal ford

Love at First Flight Thirteen-year-old bald eagle Spirit is a popular resident of Auburn’s Southeastern Raptor Center. The federal government removed the bald eagle from its endangered species list in 2007.

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Auburn University prides itself on preparing students to thrive in a practical world. So why are philosophy department chair Kelly Jolley and his team of sages getting

so much attention? by jonathan mahler

The Thinker With its roots in agricultural education and its rural Alabama location, Auburn’s original land-grant mission—geared toward helping the working class obtain practical college educations— continues largely unfettered to this day. Among its 21,000 undergraduates, business and engineering are the most popular majors, and when students choose courses of study in the liberal arts, they tend to be those with obvious career paths—communication/journalism, criminology, psychology, pre-law. So it came as something of a surprise when, in the late ’90s, Auburn’s College of Liberal Arts undertook an internal ranking of its dozen academic departments and philosophy came out on top. The administration figured there must have been a problem with the criteria it used, and a new formula was drawn up. Once again, philosophy came in first. This time, the administration decided to give up on the rankings altogether. “As I often put it to the dean, you’ve got a philosophy department that you have no right to have,” says department chair Kelly Jolley. “It’s just way, way out of step with what you would expect to find at a place like Auburn.” Jolley is almost single-handedly responsible for this state of affairs. When he first arrived at Auburn as a young professor 17 years ago, there were only a handful of philosophy majors, and there wasn’t much interest inside the department or among the administration in adding more. Today, there are about 50 philosophy majors at Auburn. If recent history is any guide, some will even pursue Ph.D.s in philosophy at highly competitive graduate schools and go on to become professional philosophers. “I don’t know of a comparable department at a comparable school,” says James Conant, a philosophy professor at the University of Chicago, where two of Jolley’s former students are now studying.

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PHOTOGRAPHS B Y J E S S I CA N E L S ON

Kelly Jolley’s book, The Concept “Horse” Paradox and Wittgensteinian Conceptual Investigations, was published in October. For more deep thinking, the philosophy department’s Web site boasts Immanuel Kant’s The Transcendental Deduction set to music: www. auburn.edu/academic/ liberal_arts/philosophy.


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Conditions that had been building for years finally coalesced to send a financial tsunami over the U.S. economy. Listen in as a quintet of Auburn University experts provide an economic weather report—and the hint of a rainbow in the long-term forecast.

The

Perfect Storm

THE FACULTY The five professors contributing to Auburn Magazine’s panel discussion on the state of the national economy teach in Auburn’s College of Business. The college was cited last year as one of the “Best Business Schools” in the nation, according to The Princeton Review.

John Jahera

Dan Gropper

Jimmy E. Hilliard

Beverly Marshall

Keven Yost

Colonial Bank Distinguished Professor of Finance; chair, Department of Finance

Associate dean, MBA programs; David and Meredith Luck Professor of Economics

Harbert Eminent Scholar; professor of finance

Associate professor of finance

Assistant professor of finance EXPERTISE Bankruptcy, financial distress

EXPERTISE Corporate governance, banking

EXPERTISE Financial markets and the economy

EXPERTISE Corporate and international finance, corporate governance

Storm clouds gather How did we get here? DG Several years ago, the Federal Reserve aggressively pushed interest rates down and touched off a real spike in housing prices. At the same time, there was also political pressure to change the criteria for mortgage lending. So ‘how we got here’ was political pressure, cheap money, rising housing prices and people qualifying for mortgages who, in retrospect, really shouldn’t have.

ILLU S T R AT IO N BY BR IAN STAUF F ER

EXPERTISE Risk management, investments, international markets

JJ The political pressure created a big move to increase home ownership. Home ownership is a thing to be desired, of course, but not everyone can afford it. But the incentives were there to continue making mortgages for less-creditworthy individuals. To enable them to get into homes, we saw a gigantic increase in adjustable-rate mortgages. A lot of people were stretched to the limit at the time they got their loans, and then two or three years down the road when the rate adjusted upward and their payments

went up $300 or $400 a month, they found themselves unable to make their payments and defaulted. JH There’s another factor, too, and that’s rising energy prices. When you go to fill up your tank with gas and it costs you $60 instead of $20, it puts a lot of pressure on your income. If you were already on the margin, that was enough to tip it the wrong way. Rising energy prices made the problem worse than it would have been otherwise.

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Spring 2009  

Spring 2009

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