In the midst a busy Friday afternoon during Reunion 2012, a large groups of alums, faculty members and friends of the Colleges took a few quiet moments to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of former HWS faculty members during the annual presentation of the Distinguished Faculty Awards (DFA).
Following a DFA Panel discussion on the 2012 Presidential Election featuring Professors Emeritus of Political Science Joseph DiGangi, Peter Beckman and Thomas Millington along with current Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman, DFA Committee Co-Chairs Sally Howe ’67 and Dan Beckman ’84 welcomed attendees to the DFA presentation ceremony in the Rosensweig Learning Commons. Since its establishment in 1990, 48 former faculty members have been honored.
President Mark D. Gearan offered his own reflection on the DFA recipients. “These faculty members have marked the landscape of campus with a level of excellence that continues to inspire our current faculty,” said Gearan. “This reflects the power and importance of teaching and what it means in the lives of our graduates.”
Interim Provost and Professor of Economics Pat McGuire HON ’10, L.H.D. ’12 also shared his gratitude toward this year’s recipients, as well DFA honorees of the past. “You are inspiring to your students and colleagues alike,” said McGuire, recalling the first time a college professor ever helped him ‘see the light.’ “These professors have ‘turned on the light’ for our students.”
Director of Alumnae Relations Kathy Killius Regan ’82, P’13 shared the thoughts of Robert Funseth ’48, L.H.D. ’78, who honored the memory of one of this year’s posthumous recipients Professor Emeritus of International Relations Leonard Lawson L.H.D. ’68.
“I am grateful to pay tribute to my mentor; to pay tribute to the man who set me on my path of public service,” remarked Funseth in his letter. “Professor Lawson was a towering figure of intellect on campus.”
Funseth commended Lawson for the pride he took in his students, and for the spirit he brought to Hobart and William Smith during a time when the world was cast into turmoil – WWI and WWII. “I would not have become who I am in life if it were not for Leonard Lawson,” asserted Funseth.
Presenting the DFA award to Professor Emeritus of Political Science Tom Millington was the Honorable Frank Phillips ’71 who spoke of Millington’s solid presence and guidance during the country’s struggles with the war in Vietnam, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the turbulent times.
“Professor Millington never had an ideological bent – he said this is what it is and this is why it is important. He allowed us to make up our own minds,” explained Phillips. “You could not be a non-participant in his class. He was kind and gentle, but you knew you had to be prepared because he was demanding – and no one wanted to disappoint him.”
Numerous letters sent to the Colleges expressed gratitude for the earnest attention and respect of DFA recipient Professors Emeritus of Political Science Peter R. Beckman.
“The methods he used are now a staple of professorship,” wrote one former student. “I will always remember him charging into class with a helmet and rifle to give us just a taste of the reality of WWI. He had a personal warmth that always made me feel like I was a truly important individual to him.”
“Professor Beckman was vibrant, funny and full of encouragement for his students,” remarked Jake Doherty ’80. “He made every subject compelling.”
Beckman himself thanked his students, colleagues and wife – each person who has contributed to his career as a professor and who he is as a person. “The great thing about teaching at the Colleges is that we were always tinkering with the curriculum,” said Beckman. “I was always teaching and learning from someone else. From my colleagues to the students – I got one hell of an education.”
In attendance to accept the award on behalf of the late Professor Emeritus of American History John George Van Deusen P’43 was his great-granddaughter Sarah Macy Heinemann, who shared a note from her grandfather, John George Van Deusen Jr. ’43 who could not be in attendance.
“History was never dull under his tutelage – and his thinking was way ahead of his time,” wrote Van Deusen, who recalled his father’s tireless work for equality in a time when African-Americans were not seen as first class citizens. Van Deusen even shared a story of a time when renowned singer Marian Anderson delivered a concert in Geneva – and stayed at the Van Deusen home after being denied a room in the local hotel. “My father would have been very pleased to receive this award.”
For more information about each of the DFA recipients, visit http://www2.hws.edu/article-id-15270.
The DFA was established in 1990 by the Hobart Alumni Association and the William Smith Alumnae Association. This joint award of the Associations recognizes the importance that graduates of these Colleges place on the contributions of outstanding faculty members of the past – for their impact as teachers, mentors, and scholars. Suggested nominations for the award are sought from all alumni and alumnae for professors who have retired from HWS, have been gone from HWS for at least five years, or are deceased.