Monday, March 31, 2014

In Memoriam:
UNO Philosophy Professor Donald Hanks

Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Don Hanks speaks at a ceremony remembering his dear friend Carl Muckley, a UNO alumnus who left a $4.2 million estate to the University, establishing the Donald K. Hanks Endowed Scholarship in Philosophy.Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Don Hanks speaks at a ceremony remembering his dear friend Carl Muckley, a UNO alumnus who left a $4.2 million estate to the University, establishing the Donald K. Hanks Endowed Scholarship in Philosophy.

Donald K. Hanks, professor emeritus of philosophy, passed away earlier this month at the age of 79. Hanks taught at the University of New Orleans for four decades, from 1967 until his retirement in 2006.

Hanks held degrees from several universities including a doctorate in theology from the Iliff School of Theology and a doctorate in philosophy from Tulane University.

A perennially popular teacher, Hanks received the Amoco Foundation Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching in 1981. In 1987, a former student and distinguished alumnus, Carl E. Muckley, established the Donald K. Hanks Endowed Scholarship in Philosophy. A subsequent bequest from the Muckley estate raised the principal amount to more than $2.1 million, providing support to philosophy majors through a number of awards and scholarships.

In addition to articles published in professional journals, Hanks was the author of two books: "Selective Incapacitation: Preventive Detention of the Violent Offender" and "Christ as Criminal: Antinomian Themes for a New Millennium." A reviewer in the Journal of Criminal Justice once said "Selective Incapacitation" was "one of the best books in the criminal justice area that I have ever read." Hanks worked with the Metropolitan Crime Commission and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office on the practical implementation of his ideas.

Hanks leaves behind an enduring legacy as a teacher and a scholar. In one of his most characteristic essays, "Self-Deprecating Humor in Relation to Laughter," he wrote: "Humorists as a group behave like philosophers up to a point, probing for an elusive essential nature, and those who succeed in poking fun at themselves are clear headed in distinguishing the essential from the accidental ... Humor constantly self-surpasses, as generalizations from experience are transcended. We laugh, in part, because in catching up, we realize the horizon has once again receded."

Hanks is survived by his wife, Jenjira Rodboon, four children and nine grandchildren.