Professors describe new Beinecke recipient as deserving young scholarBy Julia Morse
Adam Crager rides a unicycle and can juggle like a pro, but his greatest love is philosophy. The College third-year was exploring Greece last month as part of his study abroad program, when he received word that his passion for philosophy helped him win a 2006 Beinecke scholarship.
Crager, who concentrates in Philosophy and Classical Languages & Literatures, will receive $2,000 immediately and an additional $30,000 for graduate study.
No more than 20 Beinecke scholars are selected from about 100 top-ranked universities in the country every year. Crager is the first Chicago student to win a Beinecke since 1999.
“Needless to say, I was pretty excited,” Crager wrote in an e-mail from Sparta during a five-day excursion through Peloponnese at the end of April. “I wasn’t exactly expecting to win. It actually turned out to be a really great week for me.”
Right now, Crager said he is extremely interested in ancient Greek philosophy, philosophy of language and the mind, and continental philosophy, particularly Nietzsche and Heidegger.
Gabriel Richardson Lear, Assistant Professor in Philosophy and the College, said teaching Crager was a delight and that she was not surprised to learn that Crager had been selected for the award.
“He deserves it,” Lear said. “He’s one of those students who seems to be moved by the pure exuberance of thinking. When I talk about his joy in thinking, I don’t just mean thinking about big ideas.”
Lear noted that Crager “disciplines his attention to details,” including details of Greek syntax, details of logical structure in an argument and details of nuance in an author’s prose.
“And by and large, he gets them right! All that’s rare,” Lear added.
Jonathan Beere, Assistant Professor in Philosophy and the College, taught Crager in two courses and hired him as a research assistant.
“His Greek is very impressive,” Beere said of Crager. “It’s not only that he has a good vocabulary and grasp of the grammar, he has a very sophisticated relationship to the language.”
While serving as Beere’s research assistant, Crager “uncovered some very interesting things about the notions of ability in Homer’s Iliad,” Beere said. “No human being, he noticed, is anywhere said to have ability whatsoever. Only gods have them!” Beere noted.
He added that with help from the Beinecke scholarship, Crager will be able to attend the graduate school of his choice, “where I’m sure he’ll flourish and perform superbly,” said Beere.
Helma Dik, Associate Professor in Classical Languages & Literatures and the College, said Crager wrote to her from Greece to share the news of his scholarship.
“I am thrilled that Adam is getting it,” Dik said.
Nancy Gilpin, Adviser in the College, noted how humble, self-sufficient and intent Crager is as a young adult and as a student. “He really stands out in more ways than just academically,” Gilpin said. “And I’m ecstatic that he was selected as a Beinecke scholar.”
After graduation, Crager plans to study philosophy and is considering attending Princeton University, the University of Pittsburgh or the University of California, Berkeley.
The scholarship, which funds graduate study in the arts, humanities and social sciences, mandates that Beinecke scholars enter graduate school within five years of undergraduate graduation.
The Beinecke scholarship program was established in 1971 to honor wealthy brothers Edwin, Frederick and Walter Beinecke, who are best remembered for the donation of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library to Yale University in 1963.