The Philosophical Gourmet Report was just updated for 2009. It’s the ranking of graduate programs in philosophy. I’m delighted to see that University of Colorado at Boulder has risen to #26.
Toward the end of my coursework in 2004/2005, our department was in shambles. About half the faculty had left for greener pastures, and even the chairman was on his way to Oxford. The remaining faculty was worried. We graduate students were in something of a panic. If the department tanked, we faced an unpleasant choice of (1) completing the much-disvalued Ph.D at Boulder, then facing less-than-stellar job prospects or (2) starting over (or nearly so) at a different Ph.D program. Almost all of us decided to stay, based on some reasonable assurances that the department would be rebuilt.
From what I understand, the primary difficulty with rebuilding the department was foot-dragging from the administration. The university uses the salaries of vacant faculty positions for other programs, so they wanted to keep our hiring to a snail’s pace.
Happily, Bob Pasnau took over as chair. By working some kind of medieval magic on the university administration, plus making some very clever hires, he managed to build our department back up to nearly full strength. Then — two years ago, I think — David Boonin took over as chair. He continued to build the department, with excellent results. We’re now quite full, as far as I understand.
Overall, the department is better than it was in 2002 when I entered — not just in terms of its rank, but also in its overall atmosphere.
Note: If you wish to say something unpleasant about my department — and thereby disrespect me and make an ass of yourself — you are most emphatically not welcome to do so in these comments.