Rosamond Kent Sprague, a pioneering professor of philosophy, died September 10, at the age of 100. During her 43-year tenure at the University of South Carolina, she created a legacy of scholarship and left an enduring impact on her students and colleagues.
Dr. Sprague joined the faculty in 1965, a time when academia on the whole did not include many women in its spaces. A premier Plato scholar, she published prolifically on Greek philosophy and co-founded the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy.
“Her knowledge was unsurpassed,” says UofSC colleague Paul Allen Miller. “We were very lucky to have such a scholar in our midst for such a long time.”
Another of Sprague’s former colleagues, Justin Weinberg, described her as generous and kind with high philosophical standards and a sharp sense of humor.
In her teaching, she challenged the idea that philosophical writing must be obscure, or out of reach to the reader, in order to be considered “good philosophy.” Sprague advocated for accessible writing that would create a lasting image for the reader.
"We can thank Rosamond for the occasion to think a bit about how to give life and color to philosophy. She will be missed,” says Weinberg, who worked with Sprague on her namesake lecture series, established by the department in 1993.
To her students, Sprague was a demanding yet fair educator. A longtime friend, Ignas Skrupskelis, describes her approach to teaching as one that challenged her students beyond what they were used to.
“She was not just a philosopher but a historian of philosophy,” Skrupskelis says. “Her students regarded her as a genuine character and accepted from her more and harder work than they would from others.”
A memorial service was held on Sept. 15 at Sprague’s home church, Anglican Church of the Epiphany in Columbia. Prior to her death, Sprague deeded her home to the church for use in college ministry, providing for the establishment of the C.S. Lewis Student Center at UofSC.