Five outstanding HWS faculty members have recently received endowed professorships, created and supported through the generosity of numerous alumni, alumnae and friends. These professorships underwrite the work of chosen senior faculty members for five years, allotting a travel stipend for furthering research, which these professors can bring back to their classrooms.
This year’s recipients include Professor of Art Elena Ciletti, Professor of Biology James Ryan, Professor of Economics Christopher Gunn, Professor of Political Science David Ost, and Professor of Sociology Dunbar Moodie, who were selected following nominations from the faculty, review by the faculty members who presently hold the endowed chairs, and a recommendation by President Mark D. Gearan and Provost Teresa Amott to the Board of Trustees.
The Classes of 1964 Endowed Chair
In honor of their 40th Reunion, The Classes of 1964 created an Endowed Chair to 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.”
Professor of Art Elena Ciletti now holds the Endowed Chair. Her current scholarly research pertains to the “beautiful and horrifying” paintings of the Biblical heroine, Judith. The professorship allots her a stipend to help cover travel expenses to Italy, where Ciletti will further her research in the upcoming year.
“An art history student can never have enough of her classes, which are challenging and demanding, but unquestionably rewarding,” says former student Diana Haydock ‘09 of Ciletti. “Her enthusiasm for art history is contagious, and her expansive, specialist knowledge is remarkable.”
Still, Ciletti insists that she learns as much from her students as they do from her courses. “Teaching makes for a mutually enriching experience,” she says, “And I’m thrilled to have been chosen for this endowed chair.”
A member of the faculty since 1973, Ciletti holds a B.A. from Pennsylvania State University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Her courses range from Renaissance and Baroque art to African-American art.
Philip J. Moorad and Margaret N. Moorad Professorship
Dr. Philip J. Moorad ’28 cherished his experiences at Hobart College so much 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, which honors faculty members who are committed to their communities and to learning. Professor of Biology James Ryan has been selected for this professorship.
“This professorship will allow me to remain innovative in my teaching, include more students in my research, and travel to additional conferences,” says Ryan, who has been professor of biology and environmental studies at HWS for more than two decades. “It’s important to keep my course material fresh and to engage as many students as I can.”
He has spent significant time conducting field research in four African countries and in South America, and focuses on mammalian biodiversity and conservation of African small mammals. In addition to research, he has also been involved in conservation efforts in Africa.
Ryan, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Finger Lakes Institute, is currently working with Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science John Vaughn and HWS students to build a digital bat house. This integrated science project uses open source software and low-cost technology that could easily be made available to local high schools.
He holds a Ph.D. in zoology from The University of Massachusetts, a master’s degree in biological sciences from The University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in zoology from The State University of New York at Oswego. He is the recipient of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Faculty Prize for Scholarship in 1997. Ryan’s publications include more than 30 scientific papers on the ecology, morphology, and behavior of mammals and birds, many of which he published with HWS student co-authors. Ryan has written four books, the most recent of which is the fifth edition of “Mammalogy,” a textbook he co-authored and which was published earlier this summer by Jones and Bartlett Publishers. His “Adirondack Wildlife: A Field Guide” (University Press of New England, April 2009), was the first field guide to the natural history and ecology of the Adirondacks.
He is currently working on his fifth book and studying the evolution and function of the visual system in bats, a topic on which he is writing a paper with HWS student co-authors.
The William R. Kenan Jr. Professorship
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.
Professor of Economics Christopher Gunn currently holds the professorship. A member of the faculty since 1978, he holds a B.S., M.B.A., and Ph.D. from Cornell University and a Lic. from Louvain. Gunn brings an historian’s perspective to the classes he teaches, which delve into subjects such as community economic development, labor-managed firms, and nonprofit institutions.
“Sometimes, I meet first-years in my introductory classes who aren’t very interested in economics, but by the end of the semester, they’re considering a major or minor in the field,” says Gunn. “I love connecting students to the world around them and watching them grow into independent adults.”
Jessica Droz ’09, one of Gunn’s former students, says that he was the reason she pursued a second major in economics. “I attribute a large part of my success at HWS to his guidance,” she says. “He really takes the time to get to know his students, going out of his way to make sure that they are engaged in and challenged by their coursework.”
Thanks to this prestigious professorship, Gunn has started “thinking bigger.” He would like to augment his research of the Kerala province in India, whose economics, education systems, and demographics are drastically different from the rest of the country.
“It’s not a very wealthy region, but their economic progress in the past 40 years is considerable,” explains Gunn. “This project will be a whole new adventure for me.”
The Joseph P. DiGangi Professorship
Professor Emeritus Joseph DiGangi, a political science professor and pre-law adviser at the Colleges from 1967-1997, 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 alumni endowed a professorship honoring the memorable and influential professor.
The current professorship goes to David Ost, a professor of Political Science at the Colleges since 1986. His expertise lies in post-communist politics in Eastern Europe, comparative explorations of labor and democracy, and the changing relationship between the U.S. and Europe. With a B.A. from SUNY Stony Brook and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Ost is one of the nation’s leading experts on Poland.
“Professor Ost has been an outstanding member of the HWS faculty and, in particular, the Political Science Department,” says his colleague, Associate Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn. “He is an internationally recognized scholar and valued teacher in the classroom. He gives as much attention and care to his scholarship as he does his engagement with students, making him a deserving recipient of the DiGangi Professorship.”
Ost will be spending the next year in Europe, based in Estonia to conduct research and traveling to Poland to lecture.
“This professorship gives me an opportunity to do more research, which in turn helps me become a better teacher,” he says. “Since it also includes a financial bonus, I’ll be able to buy more of those obscure publications that always turn up on my travels, and which always provide a burst of new ideas that I can then bring back to the classroom. I love when I get students to see how unusual connections and serendipitous encounters can teach us so much. That’s why I’m so grateful for this honor and opportunity.”
The Lloyd Wright ’50 Professorship in Conservative Studies
Lloyd Wright’s loyalty and generosity remain an integral part of the Hobart and William Smith community through the endowed professorship named for the 1950 Hobart graduate. Through his estate, Wright endowed the Lloyd Wright ’50 Professorship in Conservative Studies, which is currently held by Professor of Sociology Dunbar Moodie. Moodie has taught at the Colleges since 1976. He earned his B.Soc.Sc. from Rhodes University, B.A. and M.A. from Oxford University, and Ph.D. from Harvard University.
“Dunbar has led by example as a virtuoso scholar-teacher,” says Moodie’s colleague, Professor of Sociology Jack Harris. “His long and superb record of site-based research has been internationally celebrated and there are few teachers who share the life of the mind and the world of theory and ideas as Dunbar shares with his students. His enthusiasm for his subject, and his great care and affection for his students, makes him the ideal recipient for the Lloyd Wright ’50 Professorship.”
Moodie’s areas of expertise include classical sociological theory and sociological theories of religion, and his work is deeply rooted in understanding South African social, cultural, economic and political realities. He is currently working on two projects: a history of the rise of the National Union of Mineworkers on the South African gold mines and updating his book, “The Rise of Afrikanerdom,” with a view to republication.
“Teaching for me is a calling,” he says. “I hope to provoke students to read deeply, think critically and act resolutely to transform positively the world we all share.”