On Saturday, March 29, the Alumni and Alumnae Associations jointly awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award (DFA) to William G. Hosking ’47, P’74, and Valerie C. Saiving. Established in 1990, the award has been given to more than 30 recipients. Children, parents and grandparents gathered at the Warren Hunting Smith Library for a warm and, at times, emotional ceremony honoring the two late faculty members.
The Library Atrium was transformed into a banquet hall for the occasion and the ceremonies commenced with cocktails and dinner, during which old friends caught up, laughed and shared a few of the countless memories of the two honorees.
After dinner, President Mark Gearan expressed joy in seeing so many alums return for what he called a “truly wonderful celebration for two very deserving recipients.”
The group then paraded through the library and up to the second floor to the DFA portrait gallery located at the top of the stairs. A brief welcome was given by Laurie Kerschner ’78 and Ken Spitzer ’55, co-chairs of the Distinguished Faculty Award Committee. They thanked the rest of the committee members—Elizabeth A. McNamara ’87, Richard S. Solomon ’75, P’10, Karin Richards Moore ’89 and Kenneth A. Carle ’82—for their dedication to the project.
The first award was presented by Joe Corcoran ’79 to his best friend, Bill I. Hosking ’74, William’s son. Born in 1921, William Hosking lived in Geneva almost his entire life. He attended Cortland St. School, then Geneva High, then Hobart College, where he graduated with a degree in economics in 1947. After receiving his M.S. from Cornell, Hosking returned to Geneva in 1949 to commence a teaching career which would span four decades.
Recalled as a “catalyst in enhancing the working relationship between the Colleges and the community of Geneva,” Hosking’s academic and civic contributions were broad-ranging and significant. He was chair of the economics department for several terms, and also served a term as president of the New York State Economics Association, collaborating with economics faculty from other colleges and universities in the state. Locally, he was a member of the Nester Hose Company (a volunteer fire company) and the Geneva Democratic Committee, and was also appointed vice president of the Geneva Savings Bank during the early 1960s. His other civic positions included chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals in Geneva and councilman-at-large from 1963 to 1967. His career of service to his community culminated when he was elected mayor in 1971, serving until 1974.
Saiving’s award was presented by Elizabeth A. McNamara ’87, a former student, to Emily Gray, Saiving’s daughter. In an emotional and inspiring acceptance, Gray exclaimed proudly that “my mother was the dearest person I’ve ever known.” She was also “the most honest person imaginable,” according to Professor emeritus Marvin Bram.
In 1960, Saiving’s paper “The Human Situation: A Feminine View” was published in The Journal of Religion. A landmark in both feminism and religious studies, Saiving’s paper was the first to insert gender in the study of religion. Within two months of its publication, Time magazine ran a 700-word article on Saiving and her paper.
She was equally influential on campus. She was instrumental in the introduction of Eastern religions and Judaism into the religious studies curriculum and, in 1969, co-founded the Colleges’ Women’s Studies Program.
The DFA ceremony “is our way of recognizing and honoring those who were our mentors, who molded us and nurtured us during our intellectual awakening,” claimed the two councils in a Joint Resolution of the Honors Committees. “More than anything else during our college years, outstanding teachers made the experience so valuable, and we recognize these professors as worthy of particular distinction and honor.”