Anne Jaap Jacobson, professor emeritus and faculty member, has left a lasting impression on the world. It is with deep sorrow and fond memories that CLASS announces her passing. Jacobson leaves the University of Houston community with a legacy of intellectual brilliance and a profound impact on the fields of philosophy and electrical and computer engineering.
“Anne was always a thoughtful interlocutor, with a wealth of knowledge about past and present philosophy at her fingertips,” Josh Weisberg, associate professor of philosophy, said. “She was one of the great organizers of interdisciplinary connection between philosophy and the cognitive sciences in Houston.”
Jacobson was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1942. Her father was a career naval officer, and her family was consistently on the move. After she wed, Jacobson wanted a place to put down roots and pursue her academic career.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, with distinction, at Oxford in 1967 and a doctorate in philosophy in 1975. She served in multiple research fellowship positions and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa sorority due to “high contributions in liberal scholarship.” Advancing next to Somerville College in Oxford for graduate work, she held several college lecturer positions from 1971 to 1975.
Jacobson later moved to New Jersey, excelling in varied positions at Princeton, Rutgers and Lehigh Universities before ultimately becoming a resident in Houston in 1991 with her husband.
Jacobson joined the University of Houston in 1991 as an associate professor in philosophy before becoming a full professor for both the departments of philosophy and electrical and computer engineering in 2003. She quickly cultivated a reputation as a respected and influential figure in both local and international intellectual circles. Recognized for extraordinary leadership skills and remarkable contributions, Jacobson became professor emerita in 2014.
Appointed as the president-elect/president of the UH Faculty Senate 2002-2004 and director of the UH Center for Neuro-Engineering and Cognitive Science, Jacobson’s talents were used to advocate for faculty rights, enhance academic programs and research initiatives and foster collaboration and advancement. She also served on several American Philosophical Association programs and policy committees.
As an author, her works were a testament to her ability to distill complex ideas into accessible and thought-provoking narratives. Her influential book, “Keeping the World in Mind: Mental Representations and the Sciences of the Mind,” discussed contrasting models of the mind in relation to the world. She also explored matters at the intersection of feminist theory and cognitive science in “Neurofeminism.” Her transformative ideas continue to inspire in her blog, “Feminist Philosophers.”
Jacobson is survived by her husband of 55 years, Allan, her son, Peter, and her cat, Tarragon. CLASS students and colleagues join in mourning the loss of a brilliant mind and compassionate soul.
“Her dedicated work helped build a community of scholars,” Weisberg said. “Her contribution to the University of Houston and the Houston community will be greatly missed!”