Campus remembers former philosophy department chair
Dilley, a long-time member of the University of Delaware faculty who
chaired the Department of Philosophy for many years and who served
associate provost for four years, died on April 13, 2018. He was 86.
Alan Fox, professor of philosophy at UD, called Dr. Dilley “a fierce
advocate for his faculty, often nominating them for awards, making them
aware of opportunities and fighting for salary equity." Fox said, “He
had a way with people and cared deeply about accomplishing genuine
relationships with everyone of every age, religion, or philosophical
inclination…. "He was a deeply compassionate and intelligent man, a true
gentleman and a scholar."
A consummate planner, Dr. Dilley drafted his own obituary, reprinted here:
Frank B. Dilley
Frank would like to be
remembered for his good points. 1: his efforts to reform the teaching of
philosophy to make it more attractive to women and minority Americans;
2: his teaching directed to making philosophy a part of the lives of
students who are not intended to be professional philosophers; and 3.
helping to create distance learning opportunities for doctoral degrees
for already employed older students (for which he was awarded an
honorary doctorate by Walden University). He asks forgiveness from all
he offended, including those he intended to offend.
He worked hard, too hard, to do those things while still helping
his beloved wife, Jane, to raise a family of three -- Brian (called
Maxx), Carol and Kathryn (called KK), who developed in quite different
directions, all of whose accomplishments he admired. He leaves all of
them behind along with six grandchildren.
Born in 1931, Frank grew up with two brothers and a sister (all
now deceased) in an academic environment where his father Frank B.
Dilley, was director of admissions at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio,
and his mother, Geneva Steiner Dilley, was very active in community and
university affairs. He earned B.A. and M.A. degrees at Ohio University, a
master of divinity at Union Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from
Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University. He won many awards
which seemed important at the time but seemed to him finally to be not
Frank taught at Sarah Lawrence, Smith College and Milliken
University, and came to the University of Delaware as chair of the
philosophy department in 1967. During that time, he left the chairship
for four years to serve as associate provost at the University of
Delaware. He published two books, about 40 articles and miscellaneous
reviews and minor pieces.
His last years were lived with his wife, Jane, at Jenner’s Pond, a
residential community which provided comfortable accommodation for his
rapidly declining body and a communal atmosphere for mental and social
Frank was a passionate supporter of the performing arts and
received great pleasure from perusing the season brochures. He steeped
his family in the performing arts and in retirement, he organized his
schedule around season tickets for these events.
Among the professional achievements he valued most were bringing
the American Philosophical Association (APA) to be housed at the
University of Delaware; being president of the University Faculty Senate
twice; being the first faculty member to receive the Excellence in
Service Award in 1995; and starting the Jewish Studies Program and the
Jewish studies and the religion minors.
Under his leadership, the department grew from a faculty of four
to 18 full-time and joint faculty, of which 43 percent were minority or
female. At one point, 73 percent of the student body at the University
of Delaware took at least one philosophy course to fulfill their
humanities requirement. He was co-founder of the Delaware Humanities
Forum (DHF) and was a two -term member of the DHF council. He was an
early adopter of media as a teaching tool, creating three philosophy
courses on video and producing 70 radio and TV interviews for the DHF.
He also served on multiple accreditation teams charged with
assessing foreign universities seeking to become affiliated with the
University of Delaware. This sparked an enduring passion for travel. He
and Jane traveled extensively through Elderhostel /Road Scholar
including trips in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Russia, Central
America and to see polar bears on Hudson Bay. An exchange year with Hull
University in the north of England sparked a lasting relationship with
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, April 28, at
the Newark United Church of Christ, 300 East Main St. in Newark,
Delaware. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Newark
United Church of Christ (of which he was a founding member) or to a
local performing arts organization of the donor's choice.