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Barnett Savery was born on 21 April 1906 in Seattle, Washington. Savery received a BA from the University of Washington in 1927, majoring in philosophy, and later attended Harvard. At Harvard, Savery studied philosophy with a minor in psychology. He received an MA in 1933 and a Ph.D. in 1934. Savery went on to teach both at the University of Washington and Idaho. In 1942 he began teaching at UBC and, in 1949, became Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Psychology. After these disciplines became two separate departments, Savery became Head of the Department of Philosophy in 1958. He served two terms on the Senate, 1957-1960 and 1963-1966. He was among those on the Faculty responsible for creating the Departments of Fine Arts, Music and Theatre.