Posted on Thursday, June 04, 2009
After leaving Hobart College, Martin Howard, DMD went on to Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, then the University of Pittsburgh, Post Graduate School of Dentistry. By the time he retired from practice, he had contributed to five textbooks, lectured in the U.S., Europe and Asia, achieved Diplomat status as an endodontist, and earned 28 patents in the dental and chemical field. Howard, however, does not hold a bachelor's degree.
Now, more than 50 years after leaving Hobart early to attend professional school, he and five of his classmates - Gerald Forman, DMD; Neil Greenberg, DMD; Martin Peskin, DDS; Marvin Nahmias, M.D. and Robert Baron, LLB - will be awarded honorary bachelor's degrees as part of Reunion weekend.
"These six men so distinguished themselves at Hobart that they earned seats in reputed medical and professional institutions after only three years of undergraduate study," says Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith. "They have led lives of consequence - in professional practice, teaching, research and in their personal lives - and we are proud to recognize them as degree-bearing members of the Class of 1959."
Howard, Forman, and Greenberg all applied and were accepted to Tufts at the end of their junior year and graduated in a class with an extraordinarily high rating on national boards. Many of their cohorts went on to dental specialties, teaching or research. The three Hobart classmates joined the military upon graduating from Tufts in 1962, in the early stages of the Vietnam War. Forman and Greenberg joined the U.S. Army, and Howard joined the U.S. Navy, remaining in service for 10 years and rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Nahmias earned his medical degree, specializing in podiatry, and retired in 2007.
Martin Peskin went on to dental school after three years of Hobart, earning his degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry before joining the U.S. Army and rising to the rank of Captain. For him, the honorary B.A. fills a 50-year void.
"This was always something missing in my life; I always wanted to get my bachelor's," he says. "I got in to Penn because of the great training I got at Hobart after three years and went on to a successful career. Getting my bachelor's degree wasn't something I needed professionally, but it was a personal thing."
Peskin spent three years in the U.S. Army Dental Corps following dental school, and then went on to earn a degree in postgraduate periodontics and oral medicine at New York University, College of Dentistry. While he had documentation on the wall of his practice to reflect each accomplishment, he saw a hole where the bachelor's would fit. "People would ask where I went to college and it was like a blank on my wall."
Baron didn't have any preconceptions about leaving Hobart early, but rather did so at his father's urging. "I was very happy at Hobart and things were going nicely," he says. "I got a call from my father, who was a lawyer, and he said I could get in to law school after only three years at Hobart. It seemed like a great idea to accelerate my career."
Baron applied and was accepted to his father's alma mater, St. John's Law School, and joined his father in private practice following graduation. He was admitted to the Bar in both New York and Florida and maintained his family's practice. Baron is now semi-retired.
While he says he inquired about the possibility of receiving his bachelor's from Hobart around the time of his graduation from law school, he hadn't considered it again in the past several decades. When he received the call on behalf of Alumni Relations from Eric Hall Anderson '59 he was very surprised and happy to hear it.
Both Baron and Peskin returned to tour campus when their children were looking at colleges, keep in touch with classmates and receive the publications of the Colleges. They, like other classmates in this situation, appreciated the time at Hobart and recommend the college to other people-including their own sons.
"My Hobart chemistry professor used to let me study at his house because his son's room was empty and it was quiet. As it turns out, 15 of my patents ended up being in chemistry," says Howard. "I told my children to look to small schools because at a small school, you can get a relationship like that."
As for receiving a bachelor's after making names for themselves in professional careers, Howard sums it up best, "Better late than never!"
In the photo illustration above are (l to r) Nahmais, Forman, Baron and Greenberg.