PSS Winter '13


In honor of the many ways they’ve made HWS a better place during their years here, we asked nine professors to reflect on their time at the Colleges. Their answers range from heartfelt memories to a poem.

Professor of Education Charlie Temple: 30 years

“In a rickety little Episcopal chapel in the flood-soaked town of Columbia, Va., a young visiting priest was trying his best to wake up a bunch of back-sliding farmers and me. He led us in singing with his guitar. He had us act out the Gospels. He used a theologian’s logic to link God’s grace and the requirements of social justice. A lot of it really worked. Over the fried okra and sweet tea later that evening I asked him how he got so good at so many things. “Hobart and William Smith Colleges,” he said. “I studied at a place that challenged you to get good at things you never thought you would.” That year I was on leave from a teaching job in Texas, writing books and building guitars back on our farm down south of Charlottesville. After talking to that young priest, I vowed to teach in a place like his alma mater if ever the chance arose. The very next month, the HWS Education department advertized a job. I applied and got it. It really doesn’t seem like 30 years, but the time keepers insist that it has been. I have loved every one of them—the variety of opportunities, challenges and exposures here still seem rich beyond measure. I’m eternally grateful to that young priest and to the people who taught him.”

Dean of William Smith College Susanne McNally: 40 years

“I arrived at the Colleges just in time to participate in an exhilarating decade of curricular conversation. Nearly every faculty member here talked constantly, furiously, hilariously, convulsively and compulsively about what a young person ought to learn here.

Now I sense this fascinating intellectual pot coming to the boil again. And none too soon, since the world our students face is so new. How to prepare them and what to take with us into a different future are questions for my younger colleagues to address. But I am so interested and grateful to be able to hear what they will decide.”

Professor of Music Robert Cowles: 20 years

“Having directed the Colleges Chorale and taught music theory classes for 20 years, I reflected recently on the large number of students I have come in contact with over the years. In the case of Chorale, I have had the privilege of getting to know a large number of students very well, since Chorale members tend usually to return semester after semester (or term after term) to sing. Getting to know the students (and eventually alums) has always been the best part about the job; it has been a pleasure over the years to get to know so many of them so well. That, and it’s a little hard to wrap my head around the fact that my earliest HWS students are now pushing 40 … .”

Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman: 25 years

“I know that a number of my colleagues believe that the student body at HWS has improved over the years. I strongly disagree. I never thought it was bad to begin with. Thus, I don’t look at the classes over the last 10 years (or five or two) as saviors, responsible for upending the student body and increasing how HWS is ranked. From the time I got here until now, I have seen some wonderful students. And one thing I have noticed about HWS from the beginning of my time here: the Colleges produce the best alums! Seriously. And I am in a position to know. When I email an alum about Day on the Hill or another alum who has just moved to Denver, or Washington, or Chicago… and I ask the alum for help, the answer is always of course, yes, and what more can I do. I guess I should not be so surprised that good students turn into great alums.”

Professor and Chair of Asian Languages and Cultures Chi-Chiang Huang: 25 years

“Strive, strive, strive!
Without striving,
My program wouldn’t even have survived.
My students wouldn’t have their needs satisfied.
Strive, strive, strive!
I must,
Or I can’t keep my office,
Because I’ll be deprived of my right.
I must,
For my humble life.”

Associate Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies Juan Liebana: 25 years

“When I think of HWS, I think of transformation. Personally, I’ve been transformed by the connections I’ve made with my colleagues, the staff I’ve worked with through these 25 years and the students. Professionally, I am grateful to work in a place that embraces the pursuit of knowledge and the exchange of ideas. I think of HWS as a place that supports the kind of intellectual climate that inspires human beings to take bold steps in their search for personal and professional fulfillment. For an immigrant like myself and for a gay person like myself, HWS symbolizes an idea of the American dream which is not guided by the pursuit of material gain, but defined in terms of ethical values and the quest for personal freedom. As an educator, my hope is that our students will take those ideas and share them with the rest of the world.”

Professor of History Cliff Hood: 20 years

“It’s 2212, and I’m marking my 220th year as a member of the faculty. It’s been a little strange teaching the great-great-great-great grandchildren of my original students, but who knew that my penchant for asparagus and peanut butter sandwiches held the key to long life? If only I’d patented the idea. HWS was reaching a new level around the time of my 20th anniversary, but the big turning point came when we hired Lulu Googler as president and she put her family money to work for us. It was coup enough when she bought Oxford and Cambridge at that remainder sale, but to be the first college with a term abroad on Mars – I still have a hard time believing we pulled that off!”

Associate Professor of Biology Mark Deutschlander: 10 years

“Ten years ago as a new faculty member, I had plans. Get tenure, establish a new research program on migratory birds, develop new curricula for my courses in physiology and neurobiology, lead an abroad program and more. While I have accomplished many of my goals (most thankfully, tenure!), looking back, what I value most are all the accomplishments and interactions that I did not anticipate. I think fondly about the student and collegial relationships that have led to new friendships some of which were most unexpected. I treasure the learning experiences I have had by teaching First-Year Seminars, participating in Honors projects both within and outside the sciences and mentoring students in research. I take pride in the students who have altered their career plans based on finding new unexpected passions in my courses. I am grateful that I’ve been able to serve on important college committees, like Academic Affairs and our Health Professions program, working side by side with many talented and wonderful staff members on campus. So while I ponder what lies ahead in the next decade, I plan and set my goals cautiously, knowing that what will be most satisfying is the unexpected and the unforeseeable. HWS has become a wonderful place for me grow; it has become a home with a professional family like no other.”

Associate Professor of Economics Jo Beth Mertens: 15 years

“I am amazed at the changes I have witnessed since arriving at Hobart and William Smith in 1997. At that time, we were emerging from some very difficult financial circumstances, and were, I believe, at a crossroads. Not surprisingly, both the Colleges and Geneva felt a little sleepy. This was a good, solid place to be with dedicated faculty, staff and students, and it was not particularly vibrant.

Things have changed. Today, I am continually amazed by our faculty and by the Colleges’ ability to attract world-class scholars and teachers. Both our college community and the Geneva community are vibrant, offering opportunities for cultural, political, social justice and academic activities. When I hear from former students and learn about the differences they are making in their own communities and the world, I am very proud to have been here during this time and am happy that I have been able to do my part to make HWS the strong school it is today.”


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.