HWS Trustee N. Harrison “Pete” Buck ’81 recalls his very first class at Hobart. It was an American Studies course taught by Eric Patterson, Associate Professor of English and American Studies. “He captivated my attention and pushed us all to become better writers and to understand a broader premise of the American culture,” says Buck.
Nearly 30 years later, Patterson became the likely choice of academic adviser for Buck’s son, Henry ‘12, as he declared an American Studies major. To honor the faculty member who, as Pete Buck says, “has been such a key member of that program for so many years” and to lend recognition to the major, Buck and his wife Nancy this year established the “Buck Family Endowed Scholarship in Honor of Professor Eric Patterson.”
“After years of indecision as to how to designate a gift, I saw the endowed scholarship as a great opportunity to help a major that still positively affects me, shaping how I view the world today,” says Buck. As a student, Buck took three courses with Patterson. At the time, seniors were required to complete a baccalaureate essay and Patterson was one of the readers of Buck’s essay, on The Youth Movement in the 60s.
For Henry, Patterson has been an equally influential and engaging figure. Patterson encouraged Henry to participate in Miami University’s “Paris 2010,” a study of Parisian influence on American culture.
“Henry had a fabulous experience and had Eric not been enthusiastic and helped to verify he could get course credits for the program, he might not have attended,” says Buck. “One of Eric’s best attributes is his ability to see beyond the individual institution for opportunities and experiences for his students.”
The endowed scholarship will provide assistance each year to a Hobart or William Smith student majoring in American Studies. The recipient shall have demonstrated leadership qualities as shown by his or her involvement in the classroom and the community and/or public service, as well as demonstrated academic achievement and financial need. Nunzio Doldo ’11 of Watertown, N.Y. was selected as the first recipient of the scholarship. He is majoring in American Studies with a minor in anthropology and a concentration in Native Americans.
“I am very deeply moved by Pete’s generosity to the Colleges and to our students, and was humbled by his great honor to me,” says Patterson. “Over the years, my highest priority has been to teach my students as effectively as possible, and to be supportive to them. I enjoy working with them very much, and want the very best for them. I am profoundly honored by Pete’s recognition of what I’ve tried to do.”
“American Studies, when taught properly, can give someone tremendous appreciation for our culture, our history and its impact,” says Buck. “What Eric has done and continues to do is push people to understand all variables of American culture. He teaches us to be proactive thinkers.”
Patterson has been a member of the faculty since 1976. He holds a B.A. summa cum laude from Amherst College, as well as two master’s degrees and his Ph.D. from Yale. He is the author of “On Brokeback Mountain: Meditations About Masculinity, Fear And Love In The Story and Film,” as well as “Elegy for Heath Ledger,” “Brokeback Mountain: A Story, A Film, Now an Opera?” and “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.”
Buck, who has served on HWS Board of Trustees for the past year, has a long history of service to the Colleges. He has served as an interviewer for Admissions, and as a member of the Statesmen Athletic Association and on his 25th Reunion committee. In his home community he volunteers on the board of the 3 Bays Preservation, as trustee of the Horizon Foundation and as governor of The Wianno Club.
The photo above features Trustee N. Harrison “Pete” Buck ’81.