Philip Bishop: Adventures in the Human Spirit

Philip Bishop

Long-time Valencia humanities professor Philip Bishop lost his battle with cancer April 12. He leaves a tremendous legacy in the community and the college where he worked for 21 years. 

He will be missed in the classroom where he encouraged deep thinking from his students.  A compassionate teacher, believing that we all deserve a second chance, he shared his values and influenced many of his colleagues in their approach to students.   His own appreciation of the arts came alive in his courses and made the material accessible for our students.  

His influence reached beyond the classroom to many college-wide initiatives.  East Campus Provost Ruth Prather said, “We have lost one of the most valuable faculty leaders that we have ever had.”   Dr. Bishop helped mold the college into an institution that holds student learning as its central value. 

A great thinker, Dr. Bishop had the ability to deepen a question, clarify a statement, and push thinking to a new level.  His influence in that work will be sorely missed, but remains a legacy of his powerful vision.

In the Humanities Department on East Campus where he acted as the department coordinator for 10 years, many of the tenured faculty looked to Dr. Bishop as a mentor and guide.  His textbook, Adventures in the Human Spirit, now in its 5th edition, is used throughout the country as a core text in the Humanities, and A Beginners Guide to the Humanities (a handbook on experiencing art) is in its 3rd edition. 

This excerpt from his Guide captures the vibrancy and keen delight he radiated about art and life:  “I am still hungry for life, and I trust the poet to tell me how it tastes.” He saw his Guide as the reader’s “ticket to get in the game and begin a lifelong enjoyment of the arts and culture [and] . . .  experience first-hand the artistry of the world’s creative people [and] . . . discover your own creative powers and tap your own creative imagination.” A self-taught appreciator of art himself, he thought that being “smart about art (and other things, too) doesn’t require a sophisticate’s birthright or a minimum intelligence score or even a college degree.  Art smarts come to an open mind that’s willing to reach out, take a risk, and encounter new experience.” 

In addition to teaching at Valencia and part-time for the University of Central Florida, he served as The Orlando Sentinel art critic, a job he began in the mid 90’s. 

In their farewell tribute, colleagues quoted from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “Goodnight, sweet friend, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” 

Read The Orlando Sentinel article on Philip Bishop.