Dr. Alina Beary, professor of Torrey Honors College at Biola University, died after a tragic pedestrian-vehicle accident, university leaders announced Thursday, August 31, 2023. The beloved professor, who devoted more than 20 years of her life studying or teaching philosophy. She shared her passion for philosophy and ethics with students at Biola for five years.
“For some of our incoming Torrey students, Dr. Beary was a new professor who they looked forward to mentoring them. For our returning Torrey students, she was someone they grew to admire and respect,” said Biola President Barry H. Corey in an email to students this morning. “This is and will be a difficult time for our community as we reflect on the influence and impact of Dr. Beary, personally and professionally. For five years she served as associate professor of Torrey Honors College. She was a philosopher who connected to students in a personable way through her kindheartedness and astute mind, her Christ-centeredness and engaging classroom presence.”
Beary started at Biola in Fall 2018 as a Torrey Honors College professor. She was born and raised in Ufa, Russia. Passionate about virtue ethics, the deadly sins tradition, and ways in which implicit biases affect our ability to develop virtue, she earned her doctorate degree in philosophy from Baylor University. Her dissertation focused on Thomas Aquinas and contemporary virtue ethics, where she articulated Aquinas’s approach to the identification and individuation of virtues. Her most recent research project focused on developing a Thomistic account of the virtuous life in light of the challenges posed to it by the prevalence of implicit biases.
Biola students appreciated Beary’s engaging presence in the classroom and the way she intentionally cultivated community with and for her students, frequently hosting them in her home.
“Dr. Beary was gentle, but full of a fiery spirit, deep wisdom and steely faith,” said Torrey Honors alumna Grace Ducker (’21). “As a mentor, Dr. Beary was perfectly balanced between strictness and grace. I knew that she had high expectations for us, and she gave us the structure and accountability necessary to meet them, but in the moments where I desperately needed help or was on the verge of breaking down, I knew I could turn to her without fear and be met with unconditional kindness, guidance and a fresh cup of tea.”
Ducker shared that during hard times, Beary always returned to this truth: “‘No matter how dark the world around us and within us becomes,’ we are in the hands of our Father, who is good.”
“I cling to that truth as we look with longing to the light and high beauty that is eternally present beyond the reach of this day’s passing shadow,” said Ducker.
Colleagues and students described Beary as a mentor both in and outside of the classroom.
“Today, hundreds of Torrey students, faculty, and staff gathered together across the campus to pray, grieve and worship,” said Paul Spears, director of Torrey Honors College. “This outpouring of sorrow, love and hope bears witness to Alina's profound influence in our community.”
Prior to receiving her doctorate, Beary received her bachelor’s degree at Bashkir State University in Ufa, Russia and her master’s degree in philosophical theology from Criswell College in Dallas, Texas where she wrote her thesis on “The Role of Prayer in Pseudo-Dionysius and Jacques Derrida.”
In addition, she has shared her wisdom through presentations at numerous conferences across the nation and written many academic journal articles for academic publications including recent articles “Against reductivist character realism” published in Philosophical Psychology and “Introduction: Special Issue on Contemporary Thomistic Psychology” in American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. She also recently participated in the 100 Days of Dante project in partnership with Baylor University.
Beary loved good literature, camping and hiking in the national parks. Beary is survived by her husband and young twin daughters.
Torrey Honors students have been notified and their classes are canceled today and tomorrow and pastoral care services are available to students. Tonight, a time of prayer and silence will be held in Fives Chapel in honor of Beary’s life and legacy. Information about a memorial service will be announced in the days to come.
This article will be updated with memorial information next week.
Edit: Biola is hosting a Remembrance Service on campus on Tuesday, September 12 at 7:30 p.m. on Metzger lawn. All are welcome to attend. The event will be live streamed for those who are unable to attend in person.