Hamline News

Hamline Mourns the Passing of an Influential Teacher and Leader

Hamline University Professor Emerita Nancy Jean Holland died on Saturday, January 25, 2020. A faculty leader in the philosophy department, Professor Holland taught from 1981 until her retirement in 2017.

During her 36-year Hamline career, Professor Holland taught courses in the philosophy department including metaphysics, 19th- and 20th-century philosophy and feminist philosophy.

Her colleagues remember her as a careful and thoughtful teacher and an internationally recognized feminist philosopher. She received the Grimes Teaching Award in 2000 and was a recipient of the Agnes Hulburd Conger Prize in 1991 and then again in 2015, thereby earning the distinction of being the first repeat faculty recipient.

Professor Holland served as chair of the philosophy department from 1996 to 2015, held the Paul and Jean Hanna Chair in Philosophy (1999-2002 and again 2013-2017) and edited the Hamline Review. Professor Holland’s national connections resulted in bringing to Hamline many sought-after Hanna Lecturers during her tenure.

Outside of the philosophy department, Professor Holland consistently used her voice to advance equity and inclusion, faculty control of the curriculum and shared governance and served on many committees. She was the first director of the Women’s Resource Center (1985-86), coordinator of the women’s studies program (1990-95 and again 1997-99) and chaired the Cultural Diversity Committee (1990-91). Professor Holland served on the Faculty Personnel Committee (1991-93), the Faculty Institutional Relations Committee (1996-99 and as chair 2008-09), and was elected to the Faculty Council (2010-12, serving the last year as president). Professor Holland was also president of the Hamline Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (2013-15).

Prior to her career at Hamline, Professor Holland earned her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1969 and was elected as a junior to Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1981. Her dissertation, “A Theory of Meaning After the End of Philosophy,” addresses the consequences of the view that the traditional search for final and absolute answers in philosophy is no longer possible.

In addition to being a world-class philosopher, Professor Emerita Holland had wide-ranging interests including classical music and fantasy writing. She leaves behind a body of philosophical books as well as fantasy and contemporary romance novels. Her books include “Heidegger and the Problem of Consciousness” (2018), “Ontological Humility: Lord Voldemort and the Philosophers” (2013), “Feminist Interpretations of Martin Heidegger” (2001), “The Madwoman’s Reason: The Concept of the Appropriate in Ethical Thought” (1998) and “Is Women’s Philosophy Possible? “(1990). As further examples of her range, upon retirement, she published a chapter entitled "Nature (or Not) in Heidegger" in the book “Ontologies of Nature: Continental Perspectives and Environmental Reorientations,” edited by Gerard Kuperus and Marjolein Oele, for Springer. At the same time, she wrote an article titled "Prince: Postmodern Icon" that was published in the special Prince memorial issue of the Journal of African-American Studies. Retirement freed her to live her dream as a full-time writer, publishing two short contemporary romances and writing fantasy.

Her legacy to Hamline is one of outstanding contributions in teaching, scholarship and service.

Her legacy to the philosophical profession includes serving as chair of the American Philosophical Association's (APA) Code of Conduct Task Force (2014-2016). The code of conduct prepared by the task force was approved by the APA’s board of officers in 2016. Professor Holland also served as Higher Learning Commission advisor to the Accreditation Assessment & Review Committee. She was a peer evaluator for The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association to Evaluate and Advance Quality, (2008-2017). Throughout her career, she maintained an active membership in the American Philosophical Association, Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy and Society for Women in Philosophy.

She is survived by her husband, Jeffrey Wynter Koon; son, Justis Vincent Holland; daughter, Gwendolyn Rose Holland: and brother, Professor Emeritus Glenn S. Holland of Allegheny College. In accordance with her wishes, there will be no service.

Written by members of the Hamline University philosophy department and lightly edited by staff.