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Tangren Alexander obituary

Dear Colleages,

It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Emerita Professor of Philosophy Tangren Alexander on March 26th. Dr. Alexander joined SOU in 1974 and served as a faculty member and then chair of the Philosophy program before her retirement in 2006.
Born and raised in Ashland, Dr. Alexander studied Mathematics as an undergraduate, then continued her studies and in 1975 became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Oregon. Born Jean Tangren Fitch, she was married to faculty colleague Dr. John Alexander, Emeritus Professor of Humanities. After divorcing in the 1970s, they remained close friends and co-parented their daughter Marcella.
Dr. Alexander was a popular and innovative professor who taught a full spectrum of courses, including Logic, the History of Western Philosophy, and her specialties: Ethics and Death & Dying. She designed and taught courses on Feminism & Philosophy and Women & Ethics for the first time at SOU. A prolific writer, she was published in a variety of philosophy journals and lesbian feminist anthologies, and she was a frequent contributor to WomanSpirit magazine (1974-84), a foundational resource for the nascent women's spirituality movement. She was a co-founding member of the Southern Oregon Women Writers' Group, Gourmet Eating Society and Chorus, which was founded in 1981 and continues to this day.
Dr. Alexander described herself as “a philosopher who believes in dolls” and held that “A doll is like an idol, an icon, the statue of a saint: it can be the dwelling place of the Presence.” From early childhood, she loved playing with dolls and inhabiting a world where disbelief is suspended and magic is real. Later in life, she used dolls to create women-powered scenes, vignettes, and stories that explore social issues and present visions for a better world. Her internationally recognized photograph albums and installations of dolls have been featured at academic conferences and exhibited at the Medford Library, and they represent one of SOU's most significant contributions to the body of Women's Studies literature. Her photographs, writings, and other materials can be found at https://tangrenalexander.com.
Dr. Alexander is remembered fondly by her colleagues and friends across campus and in the community. Professor Prakash Chenjeri, her colleague in the Philosophy program, says “Tangren’s love of philosophy and its value both in education and life continues to inspire our program to this day.” Professor Alena Ruggerio in Communication particularly remembers “her mischievous smile, and the way she taught me that academic scholarship could be deeply personal and courageously creative. Our campus and community are the richer for her legacy.” On a personal note, it was my privilege to serve with Tangren for many years on SOU's Women's Studies Council. She will be greatly missed by many.




For more information, contact: Jeanne Stallman, Executive Director, Outreach and Engagement, dce@sou.edu.


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