Faculty & Landscape & Issues of the Time – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Faculty & Landscape & Issues of the Time

Over the decades, each new pair of incoming classes are met with aspects of the educational experience that are distinctive to their generation, be it the courses they take, the professors they know, the hallways they walk or the issues of the day. Even so, the alumni and alumnae returning to campus for Reunion 2013 have similar stories that span class years, underscoring that the rich tradition of the Colleges truly extends across time.

Linking our past with the present, the following are reflections of academic life at HWS over the years, including memories from the Classes of 1963, who celebrate their 50th Reunion this weekend at the Colleges.

Faculty and Classes

“‘Western Civilization’ was a really popular program when I was here,” says Philip Barnett ’63. “It was a two-year course that was interdisciplinary. It was a very good foundational course at the time. It allowed people to find out what they wanted to major in.”

“‘Western Civ’ is one that everybody knows about,” says Bob Beedon ’63. “But, one of the great things about getting an education here were making good contacts and getting good jobs after. That’s something I’ve always appreciated.”

At the William Smith lunch, Cynthia Hammond Saalfield ’63 and Elaine Cawse Mikkelborg ’63 both laughed when remembering the class, “Freshman Fundamentals,” which they noted was nicknamed “Freshman Fundies” which included coaching on poise.

“President Louis Hirshson was a central figure in putting a solid foundation here. He was a wonderful guy,” says Dr. Art Pollack ’63, who was a biology major. “I should also point out that Dick Ryan was a great biology professor. He helped found the Hanley Nature Preserve and the field lab there is named after him.”

“In retrospect, ‘Western Civilization’ was an amazing course and I really appreciate having the overview of history it provided. I still reflect on that today,” says Cynthia Hammond Saalfield ’63, noting her favorite professor was Dr. Murphy, who taught French. “He was a character. He made it interesting and was a good teacher.”

“The two most popular classes at that time were ‘Western Civilization’ and political science. Those were the two big ones,” says Anthony Khoury ’50. “Personally, I started out as a chemistry major and switched over to math. Despite this switch,  Professor of Chemistry Ralph Bullard, who I idolized, became my mentor on campus and helped me out with everything, including my decision to change majors.”

“My favorite class was ‘Sonnets and Sonatas’ with Dr. Richard Hill,” says Emily Sachs Melendez ’73. “It was an incredible seminar of music and literature.”

“I took a course with Elena Ciletti called “Art in the Renaissance” and it was awesome,” says Patrick B. Zazzara II ’83. “She just had so much style and was so imminently connected to everything she talked about and she made it a really special experience for me.”

“I remember three hour mid-terms with Professor Pat McGuire,” says Dave Winston ’88, who was an economics and political science double major. “He said, ‘Once you get through this, you’ll be reading the newspaper and the information will trigger in your brain.’ And it still does!”

“The highlight of my time at HWS was taking Professor Jim Spates’ ‘Tale of Two Cities’ course,” says Kirk Laubenstein ’03. “That opened up my eyes a lot and made me think about things on a deeper level.”

“I would have to say that ‘Intro to Advanced Mathematics’ with Professor Erika King probably had the biggest influence on me,” says Adam Giambrone ’08. “It was important because that was the class that led me to decide on my major. Professor King was my adviser for my honors project and I also took many classes with her.”

 Buildings and Landscape

“The construction and locations of things have changed since I was at the Colleges,” says David Foote ’63. “Before becoming the home of the Music Department, for example, Williams Hall once functioned as the gym.”

“The campus is much bigger now and there are a lot more buildings,” says Elaine Cawse Mikkelborg ’63, noting that among the buildings is Trinity Hall and the Salisbury Center for Career Services, named for her classmate and Honorary Trustee Charles H. Salisbury Jr. ’63, P’94, L.H.D. ’08.

“We ended up using facilities off campus. For instance, we had to go to the YMCA for swimming and basketball games were held at the high school gym,” says Diana Woll Zurer ’64.

“I think the makeup of the Quad has changed a lot,” says Carolyn Singh ’83. “When I was a student, the quad was just a dirt field. I remember coming down to the quad to play softball with my friends. But now, the Quad has grass and is beautiful.”

“On Hamilton Street, there’s just so many places that didn’t exist when I was here and there were a lot of places that aren’t there now,” says Mish Barbour ’88. “On campus, there’s new buildings, many renovations, and Stern Hall wasn’t there. I’m pretty amazed by it all.”

“There are so many infrastructure changes in terms of Scandling and the buildings,” says James Alexander ’08. “There’s a lot of new buildings and dorms.”

“I would say that the studio classes that I took at Hobart seemed cutting edge at the time. Those classes helped me understand what it meant to turn out a professional product,” says Matt Oppenheim ’08. “I think all my classes at Hobart impacted me tremendously. They taught me drive and a go-getter spirit.”

Issues of the time

“One of the major issues on campus was ROTC at the Colleges,” says Dr. Michael Goldfarb ’63. “It was a requirement to be a part of ROTC.”

“Among the big issues at the time was the Vietnam War,” says Georgiana Prince ’68. “When I graduated, the country was at war, Martin Luther King Jr. had just been shot and Bobby Kennedy was also killed that year.”

“We had the war in Vietnam at that time and the peace movement was a huge thing here on campus,” says Gary L. Weatherby ’72. “I was a member of The Herald and got to cover the whole Tommy the Traveler story and the subsequent assignments we had pertaining to the story. That was amazing.”

“At the time, the big issues were the Vietnam War, Watergate and the Kent State shootings,” says Ira Mandelkler  ’73. “The campus was very politically active and conscious. It was hard not to be with so many different things going on around us.”

“When I was a student, it was Reaganomics and the policies of Reagan,” says Christine Harkins-Hosay ’88. “We were all concerned about how the world was changing politically and financially.”

“One of the issues during my time at HWS was apartheid,” says William Ellis ’88. “The school had invested in South Africa and the students were protesting this. We wanted them to de-invest and end apartheid.”

“At that time, it was the War in Iraq,” says Kirk Laubenstein ’03. “When I was a student, the World Trade Center had just been destroyed and this country was still trying to figure out what to do. A few students and I went to Washington, D.C. to protest the idea of going to war.”

In the photo above, Professor of Economics Scott McKinney talks with Timothy Whitwood ’98 and Michelle Loheac ’98 at the Distinguished Faculty Award on Saturday.

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