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Philosophy department honors student who has audited courses for 20-plus years

Mildred Frensley stands with her husband John in the office of Dr. Bert Randall, professor of philosophy at Austin Peay State University. She has audited almost every philosophy course in the APSU Department of History and Philosophy, and professors in the department recently awarded her an honorary Doctor of Metaphysics. (Photo by Melony Shemberger, APSU Public Relations and Marketing)

Mildred Frensley stands with her husband John in the office of Dr. Bert Randall, professor of philosophy at Austin Peay State University. She has audited almost every philosophy course in the APSU Department of History and Philosophy, and professors in the department recently awarded her an honorary Doctor of Metaphysics. (Photo by Melony Shemberger, APSU Public Relations and Marketing)

Mildred Frensley may be the true definition of a “lifelong learner.”

In 1988, she decided to take the Critical Reasoning and Logic course at Austin Peay State University.

“I didn’t want to stagnate,” she said. “I wanted to learn something else.”

More than 20 years later, Frensley has audited almost every philosophy course offered in the APSU Department of History and Philosophy – some even more than once.

“I liked that first course so much, I decided to take others,” said Frensley, now 85 years of age. “I will take the courses again because I find that I learn different things from different professors and even from different classmates.”

Her dedication to lifelong learning observed by many in the department, professors recently awarded her a departmental honorary Doctor of Metaphysics. Dr. Bert Randall, professor of philosophy, presented the framed certificate during his class in Harned Hall.

“So often, she has been my teacher,” he said. “She has the most creative mind I have ever known. She is a prized student.”

Dr. Dewey Browder, chair of the APSU Department of History and Philosophy, attended the presentation. He recalled a study-abroad trip to Paris that Frensley took when she was 73.

“She outwalked all the younger students,” he said. “All of the students were saying she is just like the Energizer bunny.”

Frensley has a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, which she earned while raising a family of four children and working full time. Her husband of 62 years, John Frensley, was with her at the presentation last week, smiling as Randall spoke highly of his wife.

“I always have been proud of her,” he said after the presentation.