McCarthy’s Legacy Lives On – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

McCarthy’s Legacy Lives On

Throughout his career and life, the late Dr. John T. McCarthy ’34 exemplified a commitment to the advancement of the world around him and his own intellectual growth.  Today, his legacy extends that commitment to the advancement of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

In his will, McCarthy’s son, the recently deceased Michael J. McCarthy, bequeathed a gift of $2.25 million to Hobart and William Smith Colleges to establish the John T. McCarthy ’34 Memorial Endowed Scholarship in memory of his father.  The scholarships will be awarded to academically deserving sophomore, junior and senior Hobart students.

“I am extremely grateful to the late Michael McCarthy for honoring the memory of his father in this generous way,” says Eugen Baer, Dean of Hobart College.  “The gift of love from father to son and from son to father will now be passed on to future generations of Hobart students at a time when they are faced with increased financial challenges.  This scholarship will be a memorial for the love that is passed on from generation to generation.”

A physics major, McCarthy ’34 commuted to Hobart and William Smith by train from Canandaigua and attended Hobart at the same time his sister, the late Hilda McCarthy Holloway ’32, attended William Smith.  He received first-year and sophomore honors and was a member of Epsilon Pi Sigma fraternity.   After graduation, McCarthy attended Yale University, where he earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1937. 

McCarthy went on to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where he was responsible for most of the physics teaching duties and conducted research in nuclear physics.  At the time, work in nuclear physics was cutting-edge, making use of radiation sources and detector technology. In the mid-1940’s, McCarthy became interested in electronics and the development of teaching-laboratory instrumentation. He published papers on improvements in vacuum tube voltmeters and current stabilizers. McCarthy’s main contribution was a circuit which produced ultrasonic waves. Through the 1950s, he continued research in nuclear physics, electronics, the development of teaching-laboratory instrumentation and means and instruments to measure time.

In 1956, McCarthy took a position in the physics department at the University of Cincinnati, where he spent the remainder of his teaching career, retiring emeritus in 1976.

He often returned to the Finger Lakes region, visiting campus when in the area and vacationing in Canandaigua, where he grew up and was valedictorian at Canandaigua Academy in 1929.

“The generosity of the McCarthys – John and Michael – is a reminder of the strength of the bonds Hobart and William Smith builds with alums, families and friends,” says HWS President Mark D. Gearan.  “And now as much as ever, we are grateful for those bonds among students, faculty, alums, the administration, and our community that make Hobart and William Smith thrive.”