Celebrating the Illustrious Dr. Ted Rebard
If you could pick three words to describe the soon-to-retire Associate Professor of Philosophy Ted Rebard, they would be mentor, humble, and dapper.
“Me? A Mentor”
For 33 years, Rebard taught undergraduate philosophy courses at all levels, from freshman to 4000 level. With countless students passing through his classroom since 1990, his joy for teaching never waned. Student testimonials count him as one of their favorite professors who significantly influenced their lives. He was their mentor.
The self-effacing Rebard, unaware of his impact on his students, points to lessons he got from mentors of his own. When it comes to his success at teaching students to think deeply and contemplate an ethical life, he offers, “There are maybe two ‘sayings’ and a piece of advice I tell my students.
- ‘Unto what end?’ (I learned this from Fr. James Schall) In other words, always ask about the ultimate purpose of your actions.
- ‘So what?’ That is, what is the real-life impact of any question or idea? It is likely unimportant if the question or idea has no such impact. (I learned this from Peter Kreeft).
- I like to remind students that they have only two duties in life: To know what is true and to do what is truly good.”
Love of Being a Nobody
Ever humble, Rebard seems surprised that he has mentored others.
“As to impact as a mentor, that is, my impact on students, I remain mostly clueless,” Rebard says. “I hope that one important thing is to focus on testifying to what is true and what is truly good while staying in the background personally. About 15 years ago, Fr. Daniel Callam gave a talk on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in which he mentioned St. Juan Diego as having had the ‘gift of being a nobody.’ St. Philip Neri’s motto was ‘Love to be unknown.’”
Brian Carl, Chair of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Thomistic Studies, sums up Rebard’s successful teaching career this way.
Testimonial: Rebard’s Life of Devotion
“The first-ever recipient of the St. Thomas Aquinas Award for Teaching Excellence, Dr. Rebard exemplifies for all of us the orientation of genuine education towards the good of the human person,” Dr. Brian Carl, Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Thomistic Studies, said. “Dr. Rebard is beloved by our students, many of whom have sought every opportunity to study with him in his final semester through independent studies. All of us are deeply grateful for Dr. Rebard’s life of devotion to truth and his career of exemplary work for the good of our students.”
Honoring the Family Tradition
Run into Rebard on campus, and you notice the stylish hat perched on his head and his natty appearance in an old-fashioned way—no jeans, shorts, tennis shoes, or T-shirts for this professor. Not surprisingly, this third-generation Californian, who grew up in Los Angeles in an urban area, comes from a line of haberdashers and tailors.
“My paternal grandfather was a haberdasher; my maternal grandfather was a bespoke tailor,” Rebard offers. “My dad and mom passed on their lessons, and I try to dress in a way my grandfathers would approve.”
Retirement: More Practice toward Excellence
When he finishes his last class and offers his final pieces of wisdom, Rebard has plans for his own self-improvement. He punctuates his final thoughts with a story.
“I plan to stay in Houston and continue learning,” Rebard said. “There is a story about Pablo Casals that I love: Casals lived a very long life, and one day when he was in his 90s, while he was in his studio playing the cello, someone walked in and said, ‘Senor Casals, everyone knows you are the greatest cellist in the world; why are you practicing???’ Casals looked up and replied, ‘I think I am getting better.’ Okay, I am not even in a major league for excellence, but I know I can get better.”