CARBONDALE -- Dr. Jo Ann Boydston, professor, director, philanthropist and activist, died Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, in Naples, Fla.
Dr. Boydston grew up in Poteau, Okla., was proud of her Choctaw Indian heritage, and was a member of the Choctaw tribe. She entered Oklahoma State University at the age of 17 and graduated suma cum laude in 1944, with a Bachelor of Arts in foreign languages. She earned an Master of Arts from Oklahoma State University in 1947 and a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1950. In 1994, she received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Indiana University.
Before joining the Southern Illinois University faculty, Dr. Boydston taught Spanish and French at Poteau High School and Junior College from 1944-45; was a teaching fellow at Oklahoma State University from 1946-47; a lecturer in Spanish at Columbia University from 1947-49; an assistant professor of Spanish and later associate professor and supervisor of student teachers at University of Mississippi from 1952-55.
Boydston came to SIU in 1955 as assistant director of teacher training. In 1961, she became associate director of what was then known as the Cooperative Research on Dewey Publications and in 1966 became director of the Dewey Center.
The world's foremost expert on John Dewey's text, Dr. Boydston served for nearly 30 years as director of the widely acclaimed Center for Dewey Studies and has edited and authored nearly 50 books and scores of articles on related topics. She earned the rank of distinguished professor, the first woman to be so honored at SIU. Boydston was an internationally acclaimed scholar who changed the face of modern textual editing. Boydston is probably best known as the general editor of the monumental 37-volume edition of The Collected Works of John Dewey, a work that now stands as a model for scholarly excellence in multivolume editing. In addition to her contributions to American philosophy, Dr. Boydston's interdisciplinary approach has enriched diverse fields with a cross-pollination of ideas and skills.
Jo Ann and Don Boydston made significant contributions to the advancement of Southern Illinois University, including, but not limited to, an endowed chair in the Philosophy Department and scholarships in Intercollegiate Athletics, culminating in the dedication of the Boydston Center on the SIUC campus in October 2010.
After moving to Naples, Fla., Dr. Boydston continued her efforts to help improve the lives of those around her and to promote the advancement of women. She was active in the American Association of University Women, the Women's Network for Change, Planned Parenthood of Collier County Board of Directors, the Collier County Women's Political Caucus.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years in March 2005.
Contributions to honor Dr. Jo Ann Boydston may be made to American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, 125 Broad St., 18th floor, New York, NY 10004-2400; or Center for Inquiry, P. O. Box 741, Amherst, NY 14226-0741.
Published by The Southern Illinoisan on Jan. 29, 2011.