B.A., Thomas Aquinas College, 1998; M.S, University of South Florida; M.A., Catholic University of America, 2006; Honors Fellow, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1997-1998; Culverhouse Scholarship, University of South Florida, 2000; Graduate Teaching Fellowship, University of South Florida, 2000-2002; Tharp Fellowship, University of South Florida, 2001; Lab Instructor, University of South Florida, 2001-2002; Knights of Columbus Fellowship, The Catholic University of America, 2002-2006; Richard M. Weaver Fellow, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2006-2007; Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Christendom College, 2006-2007; John A. Weisz Scholar, Catholic University of America, 2007-2008; Lecturer, School of Philosophy, Catholic University of America, 2007-2008; Tutor, Thomas Aquinas College, 2008-.
Ignatius is the second son of tutor Daniel Factor and his wife, Grace. The Factors had opted for a home birth, and home, at the time, was in one of the College’s trailers in the hills above campus. The family, which was awaiting the completion of renovations to an off-campus home in Santa Paula, had arrived in Southern California scarcely a month earlier, with Grace in her eighth month of pregnancy, and little Ignatius’ one-year-old big brother, Andrew Anthony Joseph, in tow.
It is fitting that Mr. Factor’s start at the College coincided with the birth of a son, for Dan largely credits his love of learning to his late father, Regis Factor, a longtime professor of political science and international relations at the University of South Florida. “My father always thought I would be a professor,” Dan muses. “Perhaps that’s because he was always teaching. Every time we went anywhere, he was always teaching me something.”
This love of learning, instilled at an early age, helped lead Mr. Factor to choose Thomas Aquinas College for his undergraduate education. “I always liked the curriculum,” Mr. Factor says. “I was always attracted to it.” At the College, he became fascinated with the great questions of life, particularly, as he puts it, “the objections of modern science to the Aristotelian view of nature proposed here.” These questions would drive his future academic inquiry and ultimately lead him back to the College.
While Mr. Factor was a student, his father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). “He was here for my graduation,” Mr. Factor recalls warmly, “but he wasn’t walking too well.” Following his graduation in 1998, Mr. Factor returned home to be with his family, and his father passed away the following April.
During that time, Mr. Factor took pre-med classes at the University of South Florida. “I even got so far as writing my medical-school admissions essays before I realized that wasn’t what I really wanted to do,” he says. Instead, spurred by the questions that his undergraduate education had sparked in his mind, he entered the university’s graduate physics program.
The experience was instructive but unfulfilling. “I realized that the way modern science is done, at least at some universities, is too specialized to satisfy me intellectually,” Mr. Factor says. “People spend several years working on a very specific subject — the conductivity rates of a certain type of isotope in given pressure or volume conditions or something like that. But I wanted answers to the general questions. I wanted more to know what are the reasons for what we’re studying in quantum mechanics, what’s really true.”
In the fall of 2002, Mr. Factor — master’s degree in hand — enrolled in The Catholic University of America (CUA) to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy. But there, too, he was frustrated by the great wall of separation that too often stands between science and the humanities. The answers he sought continued to elude him.
In the summer of 2006, after finishing his coursework at CUA, Dan married Grace, whom he had met through a family friend while still in Florida. From there, the couple moved to Front Royal, Virginia, and Christendom College, where Dan taught for one year as an adjunct professor before returning to Washington, D.C., for a one-year assignment in the philosophy department at CUA. As a professor, Mr. Factor encountered the same disciplinary divisions that confounded him as a graduate student. He also missed Thomas Aquinas College’s seminars. “The first undergrad philosophy lecture I ever attended was my own,” he laughs.
These experiences gave Mr. Factor a yearning to return to the College, where he could teach a wide range of subjects as part of an integrated, truly liberal education, and where critical discourse is encouraged. “In most places, you wouldn’t be able to do all of this,” he says. “Here, the curriculum is an integrated whole. Everything’s connected.”
Mr. Factor is glad to be back, not only for professional reasons, but for personal ones, too. “This is really a great community. It’s nice to have people who are like-minded and interested in the intellectual life. It’s a good place to raise a family”— and a good place, no doubt, for a father to pass along an inter-generational love of learning.