Rob Hoffman, The Barefoot Philosopher

The symbolism of his naked feet is not lost on philosophy grad Rob Hoffman— the “bare sole” suggesting the “bared soul.” But, in true philosopher form, he insists his daily barefootedness in class was not designed to reveal anything about himself, but to make others think more deeply about their own beliefs.

“I usually turned it around and asked them why they were wearing shoes,” he said. “I had a bunch of standard answers, like ‘I’m a minimalist’ and ‘I like the way it feels to be barefoot,’ but in part it was just to get people to reevaluate why they do the things they do.”

Rob Hoffman

Shod or not, Hoffman is the kind of accomplished, well-rounded student the Cornell program excels in drawing to Rollins. He ran on the cross-country team, assumed multiple leadership positions with campus groups, and studied in both China and England. He worked with Tom Cook, chair of the philosophy department, on research concerning free will—an experience that clinched his decision to extend his education. “I knew then that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he said. “It helped me understand that academia was my calling. It was such a valuable experience.”

Hoffman earned a prestigious American Graduate Fellowship, which he is using at the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate school. He plans to pursue his doctorate in philosophy. In case you’re wondering, with those brittle Philly winters on the horizon, Hoffman does expect to wear shoes at Penn. Sometimes.

Majors: Philosophy & English
Hometown: Orange Park, FL
Little-known fact: Ran cross-country for the Tars
Listens to: Bob Dylan
Favorite literary character: Arjuna or Hamlet
Known for: Bare feet (every day, every class)
Admits to… wasting time on Wikipedia
Favorite toy as a child: Goofy, driving a car
You did what? Ran up to 100 miles each week (wearing shoes, yes)
Breakfast: Peanut butter on a banana
Favorite quote: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates)
Dream job: Philosophy professor at a small liberal arts college
In 10 years: Older Rob

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