Remembering Dean Phil Certain

Since we learned of his passing on August 11, Phillip R. Certain has been on our minds a lot ( Phil served as Dean of Letters and Science at UW–Madison from 1993 until 2004. When the National Endowment for the Humanities at the end of the 1990s announced a program to create a set of regional humanities centers around the country, we approached Phil about Jim’s idea of submitting a proposal from Madison. A crucial meeting on the topic ended with Phil saying this to Jim and Joe: “This is going to be a huge amount of work and our office is not going to do it. But you’re welcome to.” In fact, Phil and deputy dean Mary Anne Fitzpatrick and the rest of the L&S deans supported us tirelessly and gave us constant good advice. Thanks to him, we were able to create and build the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures. It has changed and developed in the two decades since but that strong start was and remains critical to our success.

We miss you, Phil.

—Jim Leary, Ruth Olson and Joe Salmons

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