Darnell Rucker, longtime philosophy professor, died November 7, 1995, in Colorado Springs, Colo. He was 74.
A native of Dyersburg, Tenn., Darnell earned a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech and worked as an engineer for Standard Oil. But he returned to school in 1949 and earned a master’s and doctoral degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago. After teaching at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs for 14 years, he joined the Skidmore faculty in 1968.
Darnell arrived at Skidmore with a reputation a a proven teacher and a John Dewey scholar, and that reputation only expanded during the next 23 years, 10 of them as chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. In recognition of his many contributions to Skidmore and to philosophy, his colleagues chose him as the 1976 Faculty Research Lecturer. And his former students, citing “his wise counsel,” honored him with the alumni association’s Outstanding Service Award in 1989.
Instrumental in the establishment of the Liberal Studies curriculum, Darnell wrote in the early 1980s, “I am proud of the fact that Skidmore started as a young women’s industrial club rather that an elite college to train young males for the ministry, as most Eastern liberal art colleges did. Lucy Scribner’s goal for those young women was ‘the cultivation of such knowledge and art that may promote their well-being, physical, mental, and spiritual, and their ability to become self-supporting.’ That seems a noble goal still.”
Darnell published extensively in professional and academic journals. His 1969 book The Chicago Pragmatists received critical acclaim not only for its contributions to the understanding of this influential philosophical school, but also as an important document of American social history. His scholarly topics ranged from ethics, education, social philosophy, economics and corporate America, aesthetics, American political thought, and civil disobedience to the notion of self in modern society. In 1986 he gave the keynote speech for the New York State conference on gifted and talented education.
His survivors included wife Joy and sons, daughter in-law Allison Moore ’78, and grandchildren.