Michele Moody-Adams

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Michele Moody-Adams
Nationality United States
Title Joseph Straus Professor of Political Philosophy and Legal Theory
Academic background
Alma mater Wellesley College (B.A.)
Somerville College, Oxford (B.A.)
Harvard University (Ph.D.)
Academic work
Discipline Philosophy
Sub-discipline Moral philosophy, political philosophy, philosophy of law
Institutions Columbia University
Cornell University
Indiana University

Michele Moody-Adams is an African-American philosopher and academic administrator. Between July 1, 2009, and September 2011 she served as Dean of Columbia College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education at Columbia University. She was the first woman and first African-American to hold the post.[1][2] She has since resigned as dean, citing the decreasing autonomy of Columbia College. She remains a faculty member in the department of philosophy.

Early life and education[edit]

Moody-Adams grew up in Chicago, graduated from Wellesley College in 1978 with a B.A. in philosophy. She attended Somerville College at Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship, and received a B.A. in philosophy, politics, and economics, in 1980. She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University in 1986. Moody-Adams wrote her dissertation on “Moral Philosophy Naturalized: Morality and Mitigated Skepticism in Hume" under the supervision of John Rawls.


Before joining the faculty at Cornell University in the fall of 2000, Moody-Adams worked at Indiana University, Bloomington, where she was a Professor of Philosophy, as well as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education.[1] At Cornell, she was vice provost for undergraduate education and Hutchinson Professor of Ethics and Public Life. In February 2009, Moody-Adams co-sponsored with university funds a controversial student display on the Cornell campus by the Islamic Alliance for Justice consisting of signs and 1300 flags representing dead Palestinians and Israelis.[3][4][5] Moody-Adams responded to the September 11 attacks by asserting that "Vengeance is not the answer here," and that the result of an American military response could be the end of everything worth fighting for, "even the end of the species."[6]

When she was appointed to her Columbia post, administrators at Cornell praised her, "Michele is an exceptional scholar and administrator," said Provost Kent Fuchs. "Her breadth of experience working on many issues of vital importance to the university and her deep academic insights have enriched Cornell in multiple ways. We will miss her leadership, insights and intellect."[7]

On August 20, 2011, Moody-Adams announced her resignation from the deanship, effective the following June 30, after only two years on the job, citing changes in Columbia University policy toward Columbia College that made it impossible for her to remain in her post.[8]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to James Eli Adams, a specialist in Victorian literature, who is a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University.


  • Fieldwork in Familiar Places: Morality, Culture and Philosophy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997).
  • "The Idea of Moral Progress," Metaphilosophy (1999).
  • "Grrffin's Modest Proposal," Utilitas (1999).
  • "A Commentary on Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race," Ethics (1999).
  • "The Virtues of Nussbaum's Essentialism," Metaphilosophy (1998).
  • "Culture, Responsibility, and Affected Ignorance," Ethics (1994).
  • "Theory, Practice and the Contingency of Rorty's Irony," Journal of Social Philosophy (1994).
  • "Race, Class and the Social Construction of Self-Respect," Philosophical Forum (1992-3).
  • "On the Old Saw that Character is Destiny," in Identity, Character, and Morality: Essays in Moral Psychology, ed. O. Flanagan and A. Rorty (Cambridge, Ma.: MIT Press, 1991).
  • "Gender and the Complexity of Moral Voices," in Feminist Ethics, ed. Claudia Card (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1991).
  • "On Surrogacy: Morality, Markets and Motherhood," Public Affairs Quarterly (1991).
  • "On the Alleged Methodological Infirmity of Ethics," American Philosophical Quarterly (1990).


  1. ^ a b Joy Resmovits, "Breaking: Moody-Adams Appointed CC Dean", Columbia Daily Spectator.
  2. ^ Joy Resmovits, "New Columbia College Dean To Come With Love of Plato, Fresh Philosophy".
  3. ^ Ben Eisen, "Protest Gone Wrong: Gaza Display Ruined", Cornell Daily Sun, February 10, 2009.
  4. ^ Judah Bellin, "To the Point: Awareness vs. Dialogue" Archived 2010-02-01 at the Wayback Machine., February 16, 2009.
  5. ^ "Flags of Discord", Editoria Archived 2012-03-22 at the Wayback Machine. l, Cornell Daily Sun, February 11, 2009.
  6. ^ David Brand, "Students, faculty hold teach-in to try to understand roots of terrorism".
  7. ^ Vice Provost Michele Moody-Adams named to deanship and vice presidency at Columbia, by Susan Lang [1]
  8. ^ Sarah Darville, "Dean Moody-Adams steps down", Columbia Spectator, August 21, 2011.
Preceded by
Austin E. Quigley
Dean of Columbia College
Succeeded by
James J. Valentini