Home‎ > ‎

Autobiographical Background

I grew up in East Harlem, New York City, where my grandfather, George ("Bill") W. Webber established and ran The East Harlem Protestant Parish, was President of The New York Theological Seminary and founder of Witness For Peace in Nicaragua and El Salvador.  My grandmother, Helen ("Dibby") Webber started the East Harlem Tutorial Program, an after-school reading and bilingual education program for East Harlem kids and teens.
 
I lived two floors down from my grandparents with my father, Thomas L. Webber, who was a community School Board member, educational consultant, and Director of the Edwin Gould Academy in Spring Valley, New York, a foster-care boarding school for kids through high school with behavioral problems.  Edwin Gould Academy is now an East Harlem program for youth and young adults leaving the NYC foster care system, and my father is the President of the Board of Directors for that new endeavor. In addition, he is the author of Deep Like the Rivers: Education in the Slave Quarters (W.W. Norton) and Flying Over 96th Street: Memoir of an East Harlem White Boy (Scribner)an Innovation in Education award recipient, and a former opera singer with The Amato Opera Company. He is now the Executive Director of the Catholic Big Brothers/Big Sisters non-profit organization in New York. My mother, Dr. Andrea B. Webber, has recently retired from her position as an internist at Montefiore/North Central Bronx Hospital and a professor at the Einstein Institute.  She is a former cellist, a gardener, a water-color artist and a Henry James fanatic.  It may be that my interest in philosophy of art comes from her side of the family; her father (my grandfather, Angelo P. Bertocci) was a Literary Criticism professor at Boston University and the University of Iowa and his brother (Peter Bertocci) was a philosophy professor at B.U. and, at one time, the president of the American Philosophy Association.  
 
Most of my childhood was spent in ballet class, at the School of American Ballet (the training school for The New York City Ballet), at Ballet Academy East, where I studied with Francis Patrelle (Director of The Berkshire Ballet and Dances Patrelle), and in private and group classes with Wilhelm Burmann, former NYCB soloist, at Ballet Arts in Carnegie Hall. I also received private coaching from Dolores Kehr, formerly of Diaghilev's Ballet Russes, and took open, professional-level classes with Melissa Hayden, David Howard, Finis Jhung and Madame Darvash. In high school I was a ballet major at New York's LaGuardia High School for Music and the Performing Arts where I spent half the day in ballet, modern, jazz and acting classes and the rest of the day in academics.  My professional ballet experience includes work as "Gypsy Girl" in The Amato Opera Company's production of Rigoletto and as a corps de ballet member of the Eglevsky Ballet in Long Island, NY.  
 
My younger brother, Matt Webber, was also a dancer for a time, attending the School of American Ballet, Ballet Academy East and then majoring in theatre at LaGuardia high school and Vassar College. As a child he was the "Little Prince" in NYCB's Nutcracker for two seasons.  He is now a musician, poet, and the owner and partner in numerous bars and restaurants including The Soft Spot, The Narrows, King Noodle, and Old Stanley's. 
 
After a series of injuries ended my hopes for a ballet career I was accepted to Columbia University, where I majored in Philosophy and was fortunate to have Arthur C. Danto as my first philosophy teacher (for Contemporary Western Civilization). Shortly after college I enrolled at Georgetown University Law Center, where I took all the philosophy courses I could (History of Legal Philosophy, Law, Conscience and Nonviolence and Feminist Legal Theory) while serving as Notes Editor for the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics and a law student advocate for the Georgetown Family Poverty Clinic, volunteering for the American Arts Alliance and performing in the Georgetown Law Center Gilbert and Sullivan Society.
 
I received my PhD in Philosophy from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, where I was a Research Assistant for Joseph Margolis, who later became my dissertation advisor, mentor and intellectual "father." He taught me how to do philosophy, not just identify and compare philosophic theories, how to write every day, and how to pay attention to my deepest instincts and intuitions about what mattered in what I was thinking about.  

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Dayton. For more on my teaching and service there, for my research interests, and for my service to the philosophy profession, see my home, research, and curriculum vitae pages.
Comments