Holley Program in Applied Ethics

Cyrus Holley
Cyrus H. Holley

The Cyrus H. Holley Professorship in Applied Ethics was established in 1999 with a generous endowment from former trustee Cyrus H. Holley. It was Bloomfield College’s first endowed professorship, and it fosters teaching and scholarly creativity in the field of applied ethics. Cyrus H. Holley (1936-2008), a member of the College Board of Trustees (1987-1997), was an executive-in-residence lecturer; in that role, he visited classes and spoke with students, largely business majors. Professor of Philosophy Emeritus Richard E. Hart recalls Mr. Holley’s engagement with Bloomfield students: “I was impressed with his earnest concern for our students and his commitment to their advancement through education. Cy’s concerns about ethical matters was reflected in all the different ways he contributed to the College. He was a nice man of considerable professional accomplishment, but he always seemed to me to be on the level with students and faculty.” Mr. Holley was named Trustee Emeritus in 1997 and awarded an honorary doctorate of laws degree by the College in 1998. He was an engineer and executive vice president/chief operating officer of the Engelhard Corporation in Edison, New Jersey (now part of the German chemical company BASF).

Richard Hart
Richard E. Hart

Professor Hart was named the Cyrus H. Holley Professor in 1999. He held that professorship until his retirement in 2015. His thoughts about the opportunities afforded by the professorship illuminate the scope of Mr. Holley’s gift to the college: “I wanted to elevate philosophy as a discipline to a place of visibility and importance within the College. I also believed it important that there be a lot of varied, even at times controversial, discussion about all things related to ethics across the College and in society more generally. The work of the professorship, therefore, needed to be interdisciplinary and across majors. I wanted it to involve faculty, students, administrators and staff whenever possible.” Professor Hart’s standard method was to invite participants to read a common text and then to come together at a forum where they would analyze, interpret and debate the experience they had reading and reflecting.


Starting in 2002, the Holley event series included an annual lecture delivered by a prominent speaker from outside the college – an event open to the entire college community. Speakers invited by Professor Hart included among others Judith Green (Professor of Philosophy, Fordham University), John Lachs (Centennial Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University), Eduardo Mendieta (then Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Center at Stony Brook University), Carolyn Patty Blum (then Professor of Law, Columbia University Law School), and Charles Johnson (National Book Award winner and Pollock Professor of English and Writing Emeritus, University of Washington). These annual lectures played an important role in Professor Hart’s efforts to “contribute to the advancement of the academic culture of BC” by developing “a vital, ongoing and open-ended public space for serious intellectual discourse . . . a place where we could all have fun exploring ideas and enjoy the fellowship of everyone.”

Paul Puccio
Paul M. Puccio

Upon Professor Hart’s retirement in 2015, Paul M. Puccio, Professor of English, was named his successor as Holley Professor. His commitments follow from the work established by Professor Hart; he writes, “With so many (often competing) pressures in higher education, including pressures to focus on the ‘business’ of education, I hope that this program will continue to provide our academic community with opportunities for recognizing and discussing the principles that distinguish education from other social and cultural institutions, and for examining the ethical choices in every aspect of our work (teaching, scholarship, advising, administration).” He is committed to serving the college by emphasizing the cross-disciplinary aspect of ethical study: in his words, “to envision programs that suggest that ethics is (to borrow a term from the theologian Paul Tillich) a ‘depth dimension’ of all that we do in our individual disciplines and departments. No matter the subject, our behaving with ethical sensitivity makes us better teachers, better scholars, better role models, better citizens, better human beings.”


Professor Puccio has focused his attention on goals that recognize the changing landscape of higher education and of Bloomfield College. He has collaborated with faculty to encourage more student attendance at events; he has also featured newer members of the faculty at forums, in order to showcase their innovative contributions to the college and to introduce them more formally to the community at large; he works with faculty across the college to enhance the library collection with materials about ethics in multiple fields of inquiry; and he supports faculty-led initiatives, co-sponsoring a variety of events throughout the year. He has also established an advisory board, with whom he consults on programming and initiative development. In 2020-2021 board members are Professor Esther Dillard, Dr. Demetris Nicolaides, Professor Yuichiro Nishizawa, Professor Lori Ann Palmieri, and Dr. Dunja Trunk.

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