In recognition of their immeasurable contributions to the Hobart and William Smith community, Professor Emeritus of English Jim Crenner, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Benjamin Daise and the late Professor of History Maureen Flynn P’09, P’12, P’16 were each honored with Distinguished Faculty Awards during this year’s Reunion.
“Today we celebrate the strong bonds that form when good teachers truly care about their students,” said Provost Titilayo Ufomata. “This is an award that is given after great deliberation and with the knowledge that in bestowing it, the alumni and the alumnae at the Colleges are publicly declaring that the recipient is a person of great character, someone who pushed them intellectually, helped them find their footing in the world and gave them the tools to navigate the world with purpose.”
Professor of History Maureen Flynn P’09, P’12, P’16 was “the perfect combination of reason and compassion that defines wisdom,” in the words of her colleague Associate Professor of History Matt Kadane, as conveyed by Flynn’s former student Andrew B. Donovan ’12.
“Even though the world had a short 60 years with her, she had a significant, forever impact on all of our lives,” said Donovan, who presented the award to Flynn’s husband Bill Schara P’09, P’12, P’16. “She taught me that while time for some of us may be short, if you spend that time wisely it can change the lives around you.”
Other alums recognized Daise and Crenner. “Professor Daise, you changed my life,” Thomas S. Howard ’72 said. “The award that you’re receiving recognizes your similar importance to the young men and women you have guided through the many years you worked here.”
Daise addressed the audience after receiving the award. “Teaching is an exercise in faith because the ultimate end aimed for is influenced by so many different variables and is set in the distant future,” he reflected. “I thank you again for being who you are and I thank you again for this recognition.”
Crenner was recognized for fostering his students’ personal growth through critical thought, self-expression and understanding the stories of others. “There was no end to his intellectual drive as he encouraged us to dig deep, go far, be brave. Be braver,” reflected Niki Korda ’90.
Crenner founded the Seneca Review, the Colleges’ renowned literary magazine and served as the John Milton Potter Chair. “I am deeply honored to receive this award, especially in the company of my dear friends and colleagues Maureen Flynn and Ben Daise,” said Crenner, who read a new work based on his original piece “Consolations of Poetry.”
Established in 1990, the Distinguished Faculty Award recognizes the importance that graduates of the Colleges place on the contributions of outstanding faculty members of the past – for their impact as teachers, mentors and scholars.
“Over the course of 18 years, it’s been such a privilege in my role as President to join with the Alumni and Alumnae Associations to recognize distinguished teaching,” said Professor Mark D. Gearan L.H.D.’17, who concluded the festivities. “Today says a lot about these three honorees to be certain. It also says a lot about our graduates and so much about this very special place.”