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Oliver Johnson�s Family Endows Scholarship

Oliver Johnson's Family Endows Scholarship

The award for graduate studies in philosophy honors a founding member of the UCR faculty.

(May 20, 2008)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - The family of the late Oliver Johnson, professor of philosophy emeritus at the University of California, Riverside, has endowed a scholarship to enable a graduating senior from UCR to pursue graduate studies in philosophy.

Johnson was a founding member of the UC Riverside faculty and was internationally known for his work in ethics and epistemology. He died in 2000.

"Our father instilled in his four children a deep love for the pursuit of knowledge," said his son, Stuart Johnson of Louisiana. "He devoted his life to philosophical inquiry and we feel it only appropriate to support furthering this effort in his and our mother's name through the Oliver and Carol Johnson Endowed Award in Philosophy."

The Johnsons' three daughters are Julie Katayama of Oceanside, Elizabeth Eckmann of Philadelphia, and Melinda Johnson-Wright of Fremont, Calif.

Stephen Cullenberg, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and John Fischer, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy, said they were very grateful for the generosity of Johnson's family.

"The Philosophy Department is one of the strongest in our college and the support this scholarship offers a graduating senior will help a student to attend one of the top graduate programs in the country, and spread the impact of the UCR philosophy begun by Oliver Johnson," Cullenberg said.

"Oliver Johnson was a much-admired and prolific colleague in philosophy, and this is a fitting way to honor his memory," Fischer said. "We are also grateful to Oliver Johnson for his support of our department library. Not only was Oliver Johnson a founding faculty member of the campus and an important figure in the development of our department, but his family have continued their generous support over the years."

Johnson joined the UCR faculty in 1953, one year before the campus opened in the fall of 1954. He chaired the Department of Philosophy for many years, was active with the UCR Academic Senate and the UC systemwide Academic Senate. The UCR Academic Senate named him the Faculty Research Lecturer in 1982, and an annual UC systemwide Academic Senate award for meritorious service was named in his honor. He retired from UCR in 1989.

Johnson earned his bachelor's degree from Linfield College, a degree that was awarded in absentia while he served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946. He was an officer on a Landing Ship, Tank vessel in the South Pacific and participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

After the war he did graduate work in philosophy at the University of Oregon and Oxford University, then went on to Yale University where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. He taught at Yale for one year and was a fellow of the Institute for Philosophical Research in San Francisco before joining the UCR faculty.

Over the course of his career Johnson published six books on ethics and the foundations of knowledge, the last one in 1995, six years after he retired.

Additional contributions may be made to the Oliver and Carol Johnson Endowed Award in Philosophy by contacting Evie Tole, assistant for development in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, at (951) 827-4365 or

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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