Prof. Wayne Froman passed away on March 5, 2023 after a long and fruitful career in philosophy at George Mason University. Froman studied philosophy as an undergraduate at Yale University, where he graduated with High Honors. He went on to doctoral study in the philosophy program at Fordham University. From 1978-1982, he taught at S.U.N.Y. Potsdam, NY (which he later described as “inhumanly cold”) after which he spent three years at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY (1982-1985), when he also taught at the New School of Social Research. He joined George Mason’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies in 1985 and went on to teach and undertake research in philosophy at Mason for over 37 years, including eight years as department chair.
Prof. Froman was a leading scholar on 20th century European philosophy, especially the thought of Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Levinas, and Franz Rosenzweig. He had a special interest in philosophy of art. He wrote a monograph on Merleau-Ponty (Bucknell University Press, 1982), co-edited Merleau-Ponty and the Possibilities of Philosophy (SUNY 2009) and published numerous articles in the leading journals in his field. He also served on the Editorial Board of Continental Philosophy Review. In recent years he was the lead author, with Meirav Almog, of the Oxford Bibliographies Online entry for Merleau-Ponty, and was working on an in-depth comparison of the philosophical contributions of Heidegger and Rosenzweig, a project he was uniquely positioned to undertake given his previous work on both thinkers.
An enthusiastic traveler, Professor Froman attended conferences around the world. He was a familiar figure at meetings of the International Merleau-Ponty Circle, of which he was a leading member, as well as at the Heidegger Circle, the Society for Phenomenology and European Philosophy (SPEP), and the International Association of Philosophy and Literature (IAPL). He convened the 20th Anniversary Meeting of IAPL at George Mason University in 1996. In 1995-1996, he held a Visiting Senior Fulbright Research Professorship at the Hegel Archive of the Ruhr-Universität in Bochum, Germany, and in 2003 and 2004, he was a co-director of the prestigious International Symposium for Phenomenology in Perugia, Italy. One of the highlights of his time at GMU (a highlight both to him and to our department and discipline) was in 2009, when he arranged for the university to host the annual conference of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy. The event fostered the kind of exchange of ideas, and the kind of fellowship and cooperation, that Prof. Froman so highly valued.
In addition to being a scholar, Froman was of course also a teacher, touching the lives of his students. Some of those who studied with him went on to have their own careers teaching and writing philosophy. They and all his students will remember the inspiring example he set for them.
Everyone who knew Wayne Froman will remember his intelligence, his strong intellectual interest, his skills as a story-teller, his strong sense of justice, and possibly above all, his humor. His Jewish faith was an important part of his life. Wayne loved good food and good wine (he could just tolerate wine that was less than good). Every business dinner in the philosophy department was more fun if Wayne Froman was along. He was a tennis enthusiast (a key criterion for where he lived was that it should be close to good tennis courts) and especially enjoyed attending art exhibitions, contemporary dance, and the theatre, particularly in his home city of New York. He used his international travels to buy clothes—mostly in Paris—and books, which over time came to fill his office to the ceiling.
All of us in the philosophy department still find it hard to believe he is gone.
March 20, 2023