Web Exclusive: A professor and an administrator reflect on the careers of Henry West and Ellen Guyer

By The Mac Weekly

Joy Laine, chair of the philosophy department
Henry West has made major contributions to our department during the more than forty years that he has taught at Macalester. He has been an extremely popular teacher – for example, this semester students flocked to his Problems of Philosophy class, eager to have a class with Henry knowing that this would be his last semester of teaching at Macalester. I think that Henry has a great rapport with his students, and he is well known for the humor that he brings to the classroom. Henry is one of the most unpretentious people that I know and is passionate about philosophy. He loves to talk philosophy and students know this. I have had an office next to Henry for many years and so have been witness to the steady stream of students who stop by just to talk philosophy with him. Henry has been an exemplary model of how to combine excellence in teaching and scholarship with kindness and good humor. He has achieved national recognition as a scholar of Mill’s utilitarianism and our students have benefited enormously from this particular expertise. For example, this past year he taught a seminar on Utilitarianism and students from the seminar presented papers both at the Minnesota Student Philosophy Conference and at a student conference at held at Macalester to honor Henry’s teaching. Over the years Henry has made numerous contributions to our department, acting as department chair for many years.
Diane Michelfelder, provost
I would like to say that he has had an illustrious and influential career at Macalester, and is a popular professor. He has introduced many students to the delights and challenges of philosophical thinking, including our own Marty Gunderson, who had Henry as a professor when he, Marty, first arrived at Macalester.
Ellen is an exemplary citizen of the college and an ideal example of an administrator-mentor, who keeps student development first and foremost in her daily interactions with students. She is a good listener and responsive to individual student needs. She sets high standards for herself and has proven herself over the years to be a valuable steward of Macalester’s standards of educational excellence. I have benefited from her acumen and perspective, and will miss working with her very much.