Faculty Profile

Dr. Jonathan Sanford

Professor of Philosophy

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One teacher can change a life forever. Dr. Jonathan Sanford, chair of Franciscan University's Philosophy Department, knows this well.

In South Bend, Indiana, eighth-grade literature teacher Dr. Rollin A. Lasseter changed Sanford’s life.

“He inspired me in the intellectual life,” Sanford recalls, “and exposed me to a world that integrates learning with moral virtues, with having a family, with being a good Christian man.”

Lasseter’s emphasis on the role of ideas in literature planted the seeds for Jonathan’s decision a few years later to pursue a career in philosophy.

Earning a doctorate from the University of Buffalo, Sanford combined his work on Aristotle and the Aristotelian tradition with an interest in the philosophical writings of Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II). His research led him to meet other like-minded philosophers, including Franciscan University professor Dr. John Crosby.

Sanford had learned of Franciscan University five years earlier, when he and his wife, Rebecca, began to seek a better understanding of their Catholic faith while preparing for marriage their sophomore year in college. (They met in the seventh grade.)

“I didn’t know a whole lot about my faith,” Sanford explains, “and I got to know some people at the University as we strove to catechize ourselves.”

So, he says, when he was applying for jobs, “the intellectual side and the catechetical side both pointed in the direction of Franciscan,” where he has taught since 2002.

“I have a particular concern and care for the students,” Sanford says, adding that he really enjoys “directing their wonder.”

Whether instructing in the classroom; writing his book on ethics titled Before Virtue; hosting his new radio program, Get Real (“a popularized crash course in metaphysics” for KVSS-FM out of Omaha, Nebraska); or being a dad to his six children, Sanford is passing on the torch he received years ago, remembering that one teacher can change lives forever.

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