New book focuses on WYSU commentaries by Tom Shipka

Looking for a special stocking stuffer for the holidays? You may want to check out the new book by Tom Shipka, professor emeritus of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University.

The book, titled “Commentaries: 162 Essays on WYSU,” is a compilation of Shipka’s commentaries that were broadcast from 2005 to 2015 on WYSU-FM, the university’s public radio station. The book is available at Royalties from the sale of the book will go to WYSU, and Shipka has made a donation to the station to purchase books to use as promotional items.

A professor at YSU from 1969 to 2015, Shipka said he was a regular listener of occasional commentaries on NPR and “decided to try my hand at a few.”

“I chose topics based on reading that I was doing at the time or issues which I believed deserved attention, especially the common failure of people to evaluate the popular beliefs and practices which they learned as they grew up,” he said.

The essays cover a wide range of issues, including the philosophical roots of the U.S. system of government, separation of church and state, the impact of social conditioning, free will versus determinism, religious extremism, the "new atheists" and their critics, the Golden Rule, terrorism, the role of the individual in social and political progress, the status of women, the problem of evil, family fragmentation in the U.S., conflicts between science and religion, the rising cost of higher education, and many others.

Among his favorites is "A Lesson from the YSU Strike," "Are You a Critical Thinker?", "Science and Intercessory Prayer - the STEP Study," "Funny Moments," "A Day With Ted Williams," "Whatever Happened to Jefferson and Madison?", "Is Socialism Coming?", "Religion and the Founders," and "Faith."

Tom Shipka
Shipka was born in Youngstown, in 1943, one of four children of Al and Anne Shipka. His father, a steel worker after high school, became a prominent labor leader. His mother was a housewife. After graduating from Ursuline High School in Youngstown, Shipka earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from John Carroll University in 1966 and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston College in 1969. After joining the faculty at YSU in 1969, he spearheaded the unionization of the faculty and served as its principal leader until 1986 when he was appointed chair of the YSU Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. During his long YSU career, he served as member and chair of the Academic Senate, a member of the fund-raising committees for both academic and athletic divisions, a member of the the Penguin Club, and master of ceremonies for a variety of campus events. He received the Watson Award for outstanding administrative service and the Distinguished Professor Award for accomplishments in teaching and scholarship. He was inducted into the YSU Heritage Society and the YSU Athletics Hall of Fame as a contributor. A speaker series at the university is named in honor of him and his deceased father. Off campus, Shipka served on many boards, including the Western Reserve Transit Authority, the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, and the Mill Creek MetroParks. He also served as member and chair of the Ohio Faculty Council and the higher education councils of the Ohio Education Association and the National Education Association. His previous publications include two books - "Philosophy: Paradox and Discovery," with Arthur J. Minton, Fifth Edition, 2004, and "Beliefs and Practices: Taking a Fresh Look," 2016 - and dozens of articles in social and political thought, critical thinking and higher education labor relations. He and his spouse, Katherine Kane Shipka, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2017.