Barbara Scholz, 1947-2011

July 7, 2011

The choice between "learning and earning" was always an easy one for Barbara Scholz, whose passion for academia and the pursuit of knowledge was a constant throughout her life.

Born in Ohio in 1947, Dr Scholz studied for an undergraduate degree in philosophy and religion at Urbana College. She went on to study for a master's in hermen- eutical theory at Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts, as well as a master's and a PhD in philosophy at Ohio State University. While studying for her doctorate, Dr Scholz attended the University of Edinburgh for a year, where she took classes enabling her to qualify for a master's degree in cognitive science.

In 1989, she began to teach at the University of Toledo. It was there that Dr Scholz met her future husband, Geoffrey Pullum, now professor of general linguistics and head of linguistics and English language at Edinburgh.

In 1993, she moved to Santa Cruz to join Professor Pullum (the couple married the following year). There she taught philosophy at De Anza College, the University of California, Santa Cruz and San José State University, lecturing positions that Professor Pullum described as teaching "on a casual basis (but never casually)".

After taking up a Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2005-06, Dr Scholz returned to Edinburgh, where she was named honorary Fellow in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences. In the role, she taught and advised master's and doctoral students despite it being unpaid. Professor Pullum said that this was typical of his wife, who had always prioritised "learning over earning".

He said she had "immeasurably enriched" his life "through 20 years of enjoying her clear thinking, wise counsel, fascinating conversation and generous love".

He added that Dr Scholz insisted on "quality over quantity" in research.

"However much the world seemed to show that it rewarded the publishing of reams of fashionable claptrap, she would have none of it," he said. "Improving the originality, precision and clarity of a paper always ranked higher for her than sending it off."

Professor Pullum added that illness did not diminish Dr Scholz's love of scholarly pursuits.

"Right to the end of her life she was eagerly absorbing new material and working on new projects: moral nativism, normativity, developmental systems theory, the evolution of language, and various other subjects she was becoming interested in, such as Bayesian modelling approaches in developmental psychology," he said.

Dr Scholz died on 14 May 2011 of metastatic cancer.

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