Endowed professorships allow HWS to honor engaged faculty members
By Sarah Burton '11
For the faculty at Hobart and William Smith, there is no greater honor than receiving an endowed professorship. The appointment increases opportunities and financial support for faculty research, scholarship and academic initiatives while celebrating the best and brightest teacherscholars at HWS. Thanks to the generosity of many HWS community members, there are currently six named professors
"We decided that the best thing we could do would be to endow a professorship - the Colleges' first endowed professorship," remembers Tony Bridwell '49 about his classmates' decision to endow the John Milton Potter Professorship in the Humanities in honor of their 50th Reunion.
At the suggestion of Bill Scandling '49, LL.D. '67, the men named their endowment in honor of John Milton Potter, who served as President of the Colleges from 1942- 1947. Potter died suddenly of a heart attack in 1947, leaving a powerful impact on the Classes of 1949.
"We had great admiration for Potter," says Bridwell. "To honor that memory, our endowment is awarded to professors who exhibit Potter's influential character and invaluable leadership skills."
"The Professorship has allowed me to create and show more work," says the current John Milton Potter Professor Phillia Yi of the art department. "I have been able to hire students to help in the production aspect of my process, and this is a great benefit both for practical and pedagogical reasons."
An active member of the HWS community since 1986, Yi specializes in printmaking, and her color woodcuts have been honored across the globe. She served as the chair of the art department from 1998-2001 and was given the "Award for Excellence in Teaching" in 1994. She also received a Fulbright Research Grant to South Korea in 2004.
In honor of their 40th Reunion, The Classes of 1964 created an Endowed Chair. The alumni and alumnae hoped that their endowment would help the Colleges recognize a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.
"These Classes have a very strong vision of the importance of recognizing great faculty and excellent teaching," said the late Trustee C. Dixon Kunzelmann '64, who played a key leadership role in organizing the gift. "This symbolizes the importance faculty play in the lives of students."
The current Classes of 1964 Endowed Professor is James Spates of the sociology department. The endowment has allowed Spates to delve deeper into his studies of 19th century English poet John Ruskin.
He spent three summers studying Ruskin's texts and drawings in England. "I was able to read Ruskin's various works with the visual and imaginative understanding needed to grasp them fully," he says.
The breakthroughs that Spates has made in his study of Ruskin's works make their way into every course he teaches, enriching and deepening his curriculum. A member of the HWS faculty since 1971, Spates has served as resident director of study abroad programs in Vietnam, Ireland, Italy and London.
Lloyd Wright graduated from Hobart College in 1950, but his loyalty and generosity still remain an integral part of the Hobart and William Smith community through the endowed professorship named for him.
Through his estate, Wright endowed the Lloyd Wright '50 Professorship in Conservative Studies, which is currently held by Professor of Economics Geoffrey Gilbert. A member of the HWS faculty since 1977, Gilbert specializes in the economic, demographic and environmental issues surrounding world population.
Currently, Gilbert is researching the history and political economy of the U.S. public health system. He hopes to incorporate what he learns into his curriculum as well as a new book.
"Lloyd Wright's funds have been very helpful in allowing me to build a good set of research materials to support my new work," says Gilbert. "Without the generosity of loyal alums like the late Mr. Wright, HWS would not be the vibrant institution it is today."
Professor Emeritus Joseph DiGangi was apolitical science professor and pre-law adviser at the Colleges from 1967-1997.Though more than ten years have passed since he left campus, DiGangi continues to maintain partnerships with former students and forge new ones with current students, especially through his work with the HWS off-campus program in Washington, D.C.
Inspired by DiGangi's dedication to students and education, Trustee Dr. Richard L. Wasserman '70, Paul Colarulli '72, Art Medici '71 and many other alums endowed a professorship honoring the memorable and influential professor and presented the gift during Reunion 1997.
Professor of Public Policy and Political Science Craig Rimmerman, who has been teaching at the Hobart and Wiliam Smith Coleges 29 Colleges since 1986, is the first recipient of the endowed professorship.
"My career has been enhanced by the DiGangi Endowed Professorship," says Rimmerman, who recently edited Service Learning and the Liberal Arts Education: What Works and Why, an anthology that combines the voices and talents of many HWS faculty and staff members. "It has enabled me to integrate my research into my courses on public policy, keeping me fresh and challenged as I celebrate the many joys and privileges of teaching."
Rimmerman, who is working on a fourth edition of New Citizenship: Unconventional Politics, Activism, and Service, also maintains a full schedule on campus, this past year teaching five courses and mentoring 60 advisees.
Dr. Philip J. Moorad '28 cherished his experiences at Hobart College. In fact, his time at Hobart meant so much to him that when he passed away in 1998, his wife and sons established the Philip J. Moorad '28 and Margaret N. Moorad Professorship in the Sciences at Hobart and William Smith.
Moorad was known for his service and participation in his home community, traits he believed were instilled in him during his time on campus, and the professorship named after him honors faculty members who are similarly committed to community engagement and service-learning.
Current Philip J. Moorad and Margaret N. Moorad Professor Donald Spector, of the physics department, says that the professorship has allowed him to broaden his research into the interdisciplinary field of art and physics.
"This intellectual growth into the ways in which hard science can intersect with the arts has been a direction I could never have anticipated as I began my career in physics," says Spector, who regularly presents workshops in local schools to help young students develop an interest in the sciences.
Spector has been teaching physics at HWS since 1989 and is the coordinator of the HWS engineering program. His cutting-edge research into quantum mechanics, particle theory and string theory provide amazing internship and research opportunities for students and make him a leader in his field.
The William R. Kenan Charitable Trust supports education and teaching excellence at universities and colleges of recognized high quality. Typically a foundation that gives to larger colleges and research-one universities, it is rare that the Kenan Trust supports institutions like Hobart and William Smith.
But when three trustees from the foundation came to visit HWS in the spring of 1997 to talk with faculty, administration and students, they were so impressed that they presented the Colleges with funds to endow the Professorship.
The current William R. Kenan Jr. Professor is Cynthia Williams, who has been a professor of dance at the Colleges since 1986. "She is very passionate about what she does and it definitely shows in the way she teaches," says Marissa Willsey '09 one of Williams' former students. "She involves her students directly in the process of creating choreography and goes to great lengths to accommodate their input while focusing on the task at hand."
Through the provided funds, Williams has had opportunities to attend dance conferences and perform movement and theory research that continues to add to her curriculum. "I am grateful," she says. "The generous support of the William R. Kenan Fund has allowed me to continue my scholarship, teaching and service to HWS."
The late Donald R. Harter '39, P'68, LL.D. '76 dedicated years of service to the Colleges. In the 1939 Hobart Echo, he was described as "one of the very few men whom we shall always be proud to have known as a friend." After graduation, he spent 20 years as a Hobart trustee, vice-chair of the Board of Trustees, and honorary trustee. In 1976 he received an honorary degree from the Colleges.
In honor of his love of Hobart and William Smith and his commitment to a liberal arts education, The Donald R. Harter '39 Professorship in the Humanities was established and funded by Harter's friends, family members, associates and classmates.
Donald R. Harter '39 Professor Steven Lee, of the philosophy department, has been teaching at the Colleges since 1981. The endowment has given him the opportunity to more deeply explore his primary academic interest - the philosophy of war. His expertise includes the just-war theory and the use of nuclear weapons and their cultural, psychological and historical impact.
"I am grateful for the honor of holding the Harter chair, and I appreciate the way in which it helps me to pursue my professional life," says Lee, who was able to incorporate his research into the classroom in a course called "Morality of War," which he is teaching again this semester.