Terrell “Terry” Ward Bynum, professor of philosophy at Southern and founder of SCSU’s Research Center on Computing and Society, was honored December 5 as Southern’s newest CSU (Connecticut State University) professor, at a ceremony in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom. The CSU Professorship is one of the most prestigious faculty awards within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system. The state Board of Regents for Higher Education announced Bynum’s selection earlier this fall.
Southern, Central, Western and Eastern Connecticut State universities each can have up to three such professors. Bynum fills an SCSU vacancy left by the recent retirement of James Mazur, who was named as a CSU Professor in 2010. Bynum joins Southern’s current CSU Professor, Vivian Shipley, who is a professor of English. A third CSU Professor at Southern, Joseph Solodow, recently retired, leaving a vacancy. Bynum is the first member of Southern’s Philosophy Department to receive the title.
Bynum’s prominence as a teacher is reflected by the fact that doctoral students from Europe and China have come to campus to work with him, even though the Philosophy Department does not have a Ph.D. program, said President Joe Bertolino, adding, “He also has served as a valued teacher for both the Philosophy and Computer Science departments — presenting to generations of students the computer ethics course he created.”
Provost Ellen Durnin remarked that Bynum’s “ongoing commitment to exploring the complex issues raised by new technology is a valuable societal contribution – and in so doing, has earned Southern international recognition in this groundbreaking field.”
In addition to launching the Research Center on Computing and Society, Bynum organized and hosted the first international computer ethics conference in 1991. The event was funded by the National Science Foundation.
He received the inaugural INSEIT/Joseph Weizenbaum Award in information and computer ethics in 2009 during the International Conference of Computer Ethics: Philosophical Enquiry. The award was presented for making significant contributions to the field of information and computer ethics through research, service and vision. And earlier that year, he was chosen as the recipient of the American Philosophical Association’s Barwise Prize for his life-long work on computing and human values.
Bynum is an accomplished author, having written his first book, “Gottlieb Frege, Conceptual Notation and Related Articles,” about a noted German philosopher. Oxford University Press would eventually republish the book as an Oxford Scholarly Classic, according to Troy Paddock, chairman of the CSU Professor Advisory Committee.
Bynum would go on to write books on computer ethics, as well. “He is considered to be, by more than one scholar, the ‘founding father’ of the field,” Paddock said.
He established the American Association of Philosophy Teachers and has conducted more than two dozen teaching workshops, Paddock said. He also created the Computer Ethics course at Southern and has taught in the SCSU Honors College.
Bynum began teaching at SCSU in 1987 and holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from City University of New York.