Richard A. Ryan

Professor of Biology
1952-1987

October 16, 1993

Richard A. Ryan was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1925. When he was eight years old, his family moved to Westchester, New York. He was an avid naturalist and bird watcher from an early age and as a teenager, helped form the Westchester Hawking Club. He served his country during World War II as a rifleman in the 10th Mountain Division, participating in the Po Valley and North Appennine Campaigns in Italy.

After the war, he attended Cornell University, where he received a B.A. in 1948, an M.S. a year later, and a Ph.D. in vertebrate zoology in 1951. Dr. Ryan began his teaching career at Hobart and William Smith Colleges as a biology instructor in the spring of 1952. He became an assistant professor in the fall of 1952, an associate professor in 1959, and a professor in 1964. Early in his career at the Colleges, he was offered an assistant professorship at the University of Pittsburgh but, after visiting there, returned to Geneva knowing he had found his place to live and work. Professor Ryan stayed on to spend 35 “wonderful” years in Geneva and retired in 1987.

Over the years, Dr. Ryan held numerous leadership positions within the biology department. An alumnus of the period said, “He, more than any other person, was responsible for the excellent reputation and success rate of our undergraduates getting into medical school.” His real passion was ornithology, however, and his very early morning bird watching expeditions were surprisingly popular among students. His enthusiasm for the subject translated into student interest. “He was a man ahead of his time in his understanding of the delicate balance of things in the natural environment,” said another of his former students. Dr. Ryan published many articles on duck banding and had a lifelong commitment to ecological concerns.

Provost Walter Durfee said of him that his interest in teaching and competence in subject matter was unusual, he demanded very high standards of student performance, and the warmth and responsiveness of his personality created enthusiasm among students. He was held in “high regard for his ability both as a scientist and a teacher.” His students expressed the same sentiments. Another alumnus said, “He was my favorite teacher because of his dynamic, engaging, and inquiring teaching techniques.” He would shift “back and forth to different layers of a topic being taught with amazing animation, anecdotes, and depth of understanding.”


DFA RECIPIENTS

2018

Elena Ciletti

Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D.'12

2017

Jim Crenner

Benjamin Daise

Maureen Flynn P'09, P'12, P'16*

2016

Roger Farrand '49, P'78

Lois F. Nellis '46*

Ann B. Oaks '74, P'84, P'85, P'89

2014

Claudette Kemper Columbus

2013

Nicholas V. D'Angelo P'98

2012

Peter R. Beckman

Leonard Lawson L.H.D. '68*

Tom Millington

John George Van Deusen P'43

2011

Mary Gerhart

Joel Kerlan, P'89

Deborah Tall*

2010

Joseph N. Abraham, L.H.D. '81*

Donald L. Woodrow P'83, GP'15

2008

Valerie C. Saiving

William G. Hosking '47, P'74*

2007

Walter A. Ralls

2006

Valerie Kish

Frank O’Laughlin*

2004

John Loftus P'75, P'76, P'91*

Toni Flores P'94*

2003

Richard Heaton P'86*

Marvin Bram P'91, L.H.D. ’99

2002

Joseph DiGangi

Eugene F. Murphy P'74, L.H.D. '90*

2001

Ralph Bullard*

Kenneth Carle P'82, P'84, P'90

2000

Benjamin P. Atkinson, L.H.D. '86*

Otto Eugene Schoen-René*

John Lydenberg*

Lindsay A. J. Lafford P'65, P'71, L.H.D. '87*

1999

Robert A. Huff*

1998

Theodore Tellefsen Odell '20, Sc. D.'67*

Irving O. Bentsen '54

1997

Charles Delamater Vail '59, L.H.D.'04*

John Archer Silver*

Charles John Rose '76*

Francis Phillip Nash*

Joseph H. McDaniels, LL.D. '11*

1996

Abigail Mosey*

Brooks Otis, L.H.D. '77*

1995

John Muirheid*

Maynard O. Smith P'76

1993

Richard A. Ryan

William Pitt Durfee, LL.D. '22*

Walter Hetherington Durfee '08, Sc.D. '59*

1992

Elon Howard Eaton*

Edward E. Griffith, L.H.D. '88*

1991

Milton Haight Turk, LL.D. '38*

Kathryn Dapp Cook, L.H.D. '84*

1990

Horace Webster*

John Towler*

Hamilton Lanphere Smith, D.Sc. 1900*


* deceased

 

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.