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Pintro is WMU's second Gates Cambridge Scholar

Jan. 14, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Less than one year ago, Western Michigan University announced that one of its graduates was the first from the University to win the coveted Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Now, WMU has two recent graduates securing that honor in the same year.

Vladimir Pintro of Haiti is the second WMU graduate and one of fewer than 100 students worldwide to receive a 2006-07 Gates Cambridge Scholarship, one of the world's most prestigious awards in higher education. He began his graduate work in philosophy in Cambridge's King's College last October and is the first Gates Scholar to attend from Haiti.

Pintro, who completed a master's degree in philosophy in July 2006 from WMU, was announced as an award recipient during the scholarship's second round of funding for non-Americans, which took place in the middle of last year. In the fall, he joined 2005 alumnus Tristan Brown of Franklin, Mich., at Cambridge. Brown was picked for the international scholarship program during its first round of announcements early in 2006. They are two of 98 scholars from 32 different countries accepted last year into the program that, overall, includes a total 621 scholars from 78 countries.

The Gates Cambridge Trust was established in 2000 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of Seattle through a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge.

Gates Cambridge Scholarships are awarded only to students who gain admission to Cambridge through that university's regular procedures. They cover the full cost of study at Cambridge for the recipient and include a maintenance allowance as well as a discretionary allowance for study-related activities.

The scholarship is awarded based on applicants' intellectual ability, leadership capacity and desire to use their knowledge to contribute to society throughout the world by providing service to their communities and applying their talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others.

Applicants may come from any country of the world except the United Kingdom and may apply to study any subject currently available at Cambridge. Successful applicants are expected to have strong aptitude for research and make a significant contribution to the discipline they are studying at Cambridge.

Pintro, who earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy from the State University of New York in 2004, said at Cambridge he expects to research normative ethics (the study of ethical values people are expected to hold) and metaethics (the study of the logic of ethical language).

"Briefly, I am interested in two questions: 'What should the relation between moral concerns and non-moral ones be?' and 'Is particularism--a position that denies the existence or importance of ethical principles--a viable option for moral philosophers?'" he wrote in the online Gates Cambridge Scholarship yearbook. "I am also interested in exploring other areas of philosophy, such as philosophical logic, history, Wittgenstein and aesthetics."

He added his other interests include contemporary world politics, the history of African art, classical music, languages and the development of Creole languages.

WMU philosophy professor Dr. John Dilworth called Pintro an "impressive student."

"Vladimir's success is well deserved. He's unique among graduate students in my experience," says Dilworth.

For example, during two long presentations in a graduate seminar concerning a difficult book, Jonathan Dancy's "Practical Reality," Pintro amazed the class with his insights and grasp of the material, entirely without notes.

"It was a sophisticated book about the nature of practical reasoning and reasons for action. These would have been very impressive performances by any philosopher, let alone a graduate student," says Dilworth.

These sentiments were echoed by philosophy professor Dr. Michael Pritchard, who had Pintro as his teacher's assistant and student during the 2005-06 academic year.

"He was well-received by the students, thoughtful and bright. His written work was exceptional, and he would take the initiative to work on things beyond the classroom," says Pritchard. "He is a self-starter who doesn't have to wait for someone to tell him to do something."

During his time at WMU from January 2005 to July 2006, Pintro also was an instructor for a Critical Reasoning course, and he presented two papers at student conferences in philosophy, one at Michigan State University and the other at Western Washington University.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

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