Dorothea Olkowski, globally-ranked scholar in philosophy, has recently been named by CU as one of two UCCS distinguished professors, alongside Carlos Paz de Araujo. She is the first female professor at UCCS to be awarded the CU Distinguished Professor designation.
Olkowski came to UCCS in 1990 and started as an assistant professor and Coordinator of Women’s Studies. She has held many positions since then, becoming associate professor, then professor, of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department at various times since 1997. She has also served as Director of multiple departments, including Women’s Studies, Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Studies and now acts as Director of Humanities and Director of the Cognitive Studies Minor.
Throughout her illustrious career, Olkowski has published 14 books, four of which are single-authored, over 100 articles and has been cited 1,741 times. Her background and research began in the history of philosophy and contemporary European philosophy, with a concentration in feminist philosophy. She has particular expertise in the works of Henri Bergson, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gilles Deleuze, with her most recent publication centering around their philosophies and the relations between the three. This work is highly esteemed by literary critics, with a member from the Academy of Arts and Sciences stating about Olkowski “starting as a perfect critical commentor of Deleuze, Bergson and Merleau-Ponty, she has now produced an original body of work that has redefined the field.”
Along with these, Olkowski has widened her interest to other areas. She teaches several courses on cognition and emotions, an intersection she plans to further explore and publish on in the future, and is delving into the relationship between philosophy and neuroscience with a class on cyborgs and culture. She also teaches another on cosmology and culture, showing her ability to work among several disciplines.
“I have a fairly broad set of interests as a teacher and this is reflected in my research throughout my entire career,” explains Olkowski.
This interdisciplinary experience is also seen in Olkowski’s extensive collection of collaborations with international scholars. She has recently worked with colleagues from Europe and South America and notes her overlap with fields such as religious studies and English literature that may seem unusual for a philosophy scholar.
“People ask, ‘why are you doing so many different things? Why are there people writing letters for you from non-philosophy fields?’ But that’s all part of my interdisciplinary focus,” Olkowski laughs.
When asked about some of her proudest achievements throughout her career and research, Olkowski noted the books she single-authored and receiving the Distinguished Professor commendation, especially as the first woman from UCCS to do so.
“I’m really happy about each of the four monographs. Some of them were more difficult than others, some were more complex than others, so just finding the time and the energy to complete those projects,” says Olkowski.
“I’m thrilled about the distinguished professorship, mostly because of all the incredible support I had from people who wrote letters for me, and being the first woman from UCCS to be named Distinguished Professor is something that I never really imagined,” Olkowski continues.
Olkowski also mentioned her appreciation for her associates and those who have supported her over her career.
“It’s an opportunity for me to thank my colleagues, the dean and the associate dean, and many others who also help me a lot, including Fernando Feliu-Moggi, who nominated me, and I’m grateful. My Chair of Philosophy, Jeff Scholes, also was incredibly supportive.”
CU distinguished professors demonstrate exemplary performance in research or creative work, a record of excellence in classroom teaching and supervision of individual learning, and outstanding service to the profession, the university and its affiliates.