I Remember Professor….
“Turn to the person on your right and recollect a favorite professor
and why that person was so special to you.”
A simple “ice-breaker” exercise for the Alumni Executive
Council at its January 30 dinner with Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs
Kim Mooney, who hosted the Council at the Center for Teach-ing and
became the inspiration for this magazine’s theme. The stories
shared around the room that winter evening were so compelling that
we decided to extend the invitation to trustees as well, and at least
one friend of the Council asked to jump in. What
follows proves that good teaching, in any generation, gives evidence
of outstanding scholarship and passionate interest in student welfare.
Who was your favorite teacher? —LMC
Robert Carlisle, History
I came to the history department late in my college experience when
I took a course in European history with Prof. Carlisle. The first
time he showed up in class, I thought he might have been the janitor
for Cook (now Piskor) Hall. He had a cigarette in his mouth, looked
disheveled, and was carrying a book with a few pieces of paper hanging
out. I wasn’t sure he was the professor until he started to talk.
I remember at first thinking I didn’t need to take this guy seriously;
he seemed unprepared and uninterested in students. Boy, was I wrong
What I still most remember was how his lectures were parallel
stories woven together suddenly at the end. Usually, there was a biography
of someone from the era who was prominent but not well-known (so we
could have been in a sociology or psychology class), then he’d
leave that to discuss the politics of the period (at which point I
thought I was in a government class), and he’d leave that unfinished
to talk about the underlying economy or trade in the area (economics....)
and finally he would pull all
those threads together in the final five minutes of class. All of us
listened in rapt silence to these stories, careful not to miss anything
so that the finale would reveal the mystery of the connections among
them. I never listened to a teacher more closely.
I’ve never seen
anyone since who can tell such an enriching and intertwined set of
stories. I loved it...and might have become a history major if only
I had started with Prof. Carlisle sooner.
—Trustee Dekkers Davidson ’78
Lauren Clute, Economics
One of my most favorite professors was Lauren Clute, who headed the
economics department at the time. I took accounting from him and loved
it. He was a great teacher. But he was also a great counselor. He was
the one to suggest I take the Business Boards and get an MBA. When
I wanted to change my major to economics, he convinced me not to and
just allowed me to take upper-level courses in the department without
taking the lower-level prerequisites. Last year, I funded an award
on Moving-Up Day in his honor.
—Trustee Janet Langlois ’70
As an economics major at St. Lawrence University, I developed a special
relationship with Lauren Clute. Through Larry’s mentorship I
learned lifelong lessons such as the importance of having diversified
hobbies and interests, being inquisitive, enjoying my work and developing
a good work ethic. Larry took keen interest in my academic development
and taught me how to grow sumptuous and large tomatoes. He was known
in the Canton community for being an excellent gardener. I miss him
dearly and thank him for suggesting a career in corporate banking.
—Alumni Council President Joe Richardson ’63
Harry Reiff, Government
Knowingly submitting oneself to the rigors and disciplines of Harry
Reiff was not a commitment casually made. A personal transformation
happened because a great teacher took an interest
in a below-average student and inspired higher achievement. He did
it through the rigor of his classes, the compassion of his mentoring
the model of his personal life, which seemed totally dedicated to teaching
and intellectual excellence.
I have never forgotten those harrowing
suppers with Harry Reiff and his wife in their home (she cooked the
dinner and we sat around the
dinner table talking and discussing and listening). These were the
senior tutorials, and they did not carry credit hours—they were
a reward for majoring in Harry Reiff’s department. So there I
was, sitting at the Reiff dinner table with at most one or two other
majors, brought together to discuss Plato’s Republic (I remember
to this day a question: “Does Plato mistakenly equate knowledge
with virtue?”; to a 21-year-old still struggling to understand
what knowledge was, putting virtue somehow in the balance was a challenging
exercise) or Plutarch’s Lives or Gibbons or Heroditus, always
with a sidebar discussion and analysis of principal current news events. “Mr.
Wilson, what did you think of the Supreme Court decision announced
yesterday?” typifies the questions that one was confronted with,
and for which one had best have ready some reasoned answer.
connected me to the world. He got me beyond my marginal self and on
a path to loftier accomplishment. My only regret is that
I never had the opportunity to tell him all of this. He knew he was
good. But did he really know just how critical his presence was in
so many lives, mine in particular? The short version of what happened
here is that I learned how to learn and I found intense interest in
becoming an informed citizen. What higher expectation could one hope
for from an educational experience?
—Chairman Emeritus of the Board E. B. Wilson ’53
Jack Culpepper, History
I immediately think of Prof. Jack Culpepper, from freshman Western
Civ. We were in the basement of Cook (now Piskor) Hall, with all the
supporting pillars around us. I remember him coming into class, leaning
back against a pillar with his eyes closed, and beginning to talk without
notes. He was mesmerizing. As a first-semester freshman, I found everything
challenging and fresh. I don't remember many details of the varied
books we read, but I remember the exhilaration of discussion and analysis.
we did our final paper, every single resource I checked out had been
checked out by him first—I would have to prove my arguments
beyond any possibility of doubt. What a start to learning, honing critical
analysis, argument, and writing.
—Alumni Council member Patricia Romeo-Gilbert ’74
Robert Lufburrow, Physics
My most memorable class was taught by Robert Lufburrow. It was introductory
physics, which led to my major. Prof. Lufburrow simplified the concepts
in physics and taught me the technique of making quantitative estimates
(how many ping-pong balls can fit in a room? how many nanometers in
a one-mile race? how heavy is the water in an Olympic swimming pool?)
These types of “order of magnitude” questions come up repeatedly
in my business life, so I’m grateful to St. Lawrence for having
Prof. Lufburrow there in my freshman physics class to show me the simple
way through these global issues.
—Trustee John Finley ’70
Tom Greene, Psychology
Prof. Greene combined great attitude and great aptitude. He drew me
into “psych” without my noticing I was having fun studying
He was interactive and helpful as a mentor. He was the best I had at
—Alumni Council member Ed Keller ’86
Robert Wells, Government
Prof. Wells had the ability to engage and challenge students constantly
to think beyond their normal parameters. He instilled in me a sense
of passion about our government and how it works. Finally, he was ALWAYS
accessible and approachable by any student with a question.
—Alumni Council Vice President Jeff Honeywell ’80
Alan Searleman, Psychology
After one class with Alan Searleman, I knew I wanted to be a psychology
major. He was so dynamic in class that I really looked forward to his
lectures. I remember walking around campus and going through the library
with 3D glasses on, for a class on Perception. Other students laughed
at us. But leading the way was Prof. Searleman, clearly explaining
how our brains were perceiving the colors, shapes and sizes all around
us. Prof. Searleman was my advisor and I became his teaching assistant
because he was such a great guy to be around.
—Alumni Council member Ken Polk ’90
Ronald Flores, Sociology
Ron Flores was my favorite professor by far. He allowed me to challenge
myself in my writing, especially in how I convey my message. He made
me realize that a regular guy from New York City can achieve greatness,
even if the road to greatness seems bumpy and impossible. I believe
that much of what I learned in his sociology classes, and in the First-Year
Program course [where he was a member of the teaching team], helped
shape me into a more fearless and socially conscious person. I am grateful
to have had his mentoring and his presence during my college career.
—Alumni Council member E-Ben Grisby ’99
Liz Kahn, Fine Arts
Liz and St. Lawrence are practically the same thing to me. I remember
sitting in her survey class and being so relieved to be able write
a paper instead of memorize works of art! A friendship blossomed in
that class that has continued since graduation. Liz directed an amazing
arts festival, Art and the Vietnam Era, in 1989; a group of students
published a book on the experience, and I was afforded a chance to
read sections on North Country Public Radio. To this day, I am amazed
at how moving and educational that experience was for me. We spent
many January nights at “the bunker” or in Liz and William’s
living room, sharing and teaching. I also had the pleasure of being
her son’s first baby-sitter and watching him grow. I passed the
tradition on to many Tri-Delta sisters! I feel honored to be able to
call her my friend, to pick up the phone and talk to her and continue
a close relationship with St. Lawrence that is very meaningful to me.
—Katie Coombs ’89
Rick Guarasci, Government, and Glen Mazis, Philosophy
For our senior year, a group of us wanted to design a class that would
cap off our experience at St. Law-rence (this was before most majors
had a “capstone” option). Each senior brought a different
topic and interest to teach the rest of us: Corinne “Rina” Carroll
Jackson and Maria DiCaprio brought fine arts, Rob Flanagan English,
Bill “Gibb” Lundy economics, Karyn Edwards Niles education,
and Ann Ulrich religious studies. I focused on government and Carrie
Waters brought philosophy.
We approached Professors Guarasci and Mazis
and asked them to be fellow “learners,” and
then asked the dean to grant us credit for an independent study where
the students were the teachers. What ensued was the creation of our
class, Voice, Identity, and Belief. I don’t want to speak for
the rest of our group (but I think they would agree)—this was
of the best college experiences. Thank you to Rick and Glen for just
letting us run with it - for letting us create something meaningful
—Trustee Jennifer Curley ’90
Joan Donovan, Speech and Theatre
I took several speech classes from Mrs. Donovan. One of her teaching
tools was a rating sheet that she used whenever we made an oral presentation.
Her ratings and their associated comments were always fair. How did
she know when one wasn’t really prepared? She never judged on
length of presentation, but rather on effort and quality. She was simply
never unkind or thoughtless, regardless of what we brought or didn’t
bring to her class.
She was the person who taught me always to meet
the gaze of the other person in a conversation or interview. It was
her class on persuasive
techniques that helped me gain a second interview with Macy’s
for their executive training program. There is no doubt in my mind
that, without the skills she passed on to us about verbal communication,
I would not have left college with a job.
—Alumni Council member Anne Ferris Cassidy ’74
George McFarland, English
George McFarland was an English major’s image of the perfect
professor, with his tweed jackets and suede elbow patches. He lectured
without notes and sat on the edge of a table, swinging his legs and
exuding confidence. In Modern American Novel (Faulkner, Steinbeck,
Hemingway, Dreiser, O’Hara and others), although his level of
expectation scared me, I soon noticed that even when one gave the “wrong
answer,” he took the time to examine carefully the evolution
of one’s thought process. Critical thinking and writing took
on a whole new meaning under his tutelage. I still have my notebook
from his course, and some years ago, went back and reread a number
of those novels.
—Trustee Karen Diesl Bruett ’66
And From Today’s Students…
We asked several students what comes to mind when they’re asked
to define good teaching. Here’s what they had to say:
A good professor to me is someone who not only cares about his or
students and academic career, but also is able to make students think
about themselves and become engaged in topics that they aren’t
necessarily interested in. Two professors changed my life by doing
One had very different political views from me, but rather
than getting upset at his statements, I made sure that I knew what
I was saying
so that I could refute his remarks. I think this was part of his plan,
because it got a lot of people in the class more involved than ever
before—he made his students care about issues rather than just
being aware of them.
In another course, the professor, Traci Fordham-Hernandez,
pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to question my role
in our society.
She helped me understand privilege and prejudice: how I have benefited
from privilege with regards to race, yet been forced to face prejudice
head-on because of my sexuality. A professor who can make you re-evaluate
your entire life experience is one of the most important parts of a
college education, because you are made to see yourself through the
eyes of others.
These same two professors always meet me with a “hello,
how are you?” every time I see them. It is important to students
to know that their professors care about them, and thankfully, we have
of professors at St. Lawrence who really do. The two I’ve mentioned
are simply the best of the best.
—Travis Babcock ’04
Travis Babcock, of Lowville, N.Y., is president of the Thelomathesian
Society and of PRIDES (People Recognizing Individuality, Diversity
and Equality of Sexualities).
Opening New Worlds
Throughout my college career, at both the undergraduate and graduate
levels, I have been fortunate enough to learn from teachers who have
sparked my interest in various topics and then allowed me to comprehend,
test and discover further. The teachers were challenging, yet made
Physics Associate Professor Aileen O’Donoghue (left
above) opened my eyes to the stars above. In astronomy class, we received
overview of our universe, galaxy and solar system by participating
in experiments, research, and of course observation. She made learning
fun, even when leading us up to the roof of Bewkes Science Hall at
4 a.m. to look at the sky.
Prof. O’Donoghue expected a great
deal out of us and pushed us to stretch our capabilities. For me, she
truly opened up a whole “new
world.” Astronomy has become my passion.
During graduate classes, Sue Burwell has proven to personify good teaching.
In her Social Studies Methods class for student teachers, she taught
teaching methods and techniques that not only would be useful for the
future, but also could be tried and tested. During my student teaching
semester, I was able to apply these various techniques. She made the
ambiance conducive to learning and at the same time made us feel comfortable
enough to ask questions and express ideas.
I believe good teachers
care about students and learning. They develop an encouraging atmosphere
where students are comfortable asking questions
and making suggestions. Good teachers are challenging and set high
standards for their students, yet at the same time are fair, energetic,
passionate, friendly and knowledgeable. I will use their models to
become a teacher who brings science to life and creates a sense of
curiosity and wonder in my students as well as encouraging them to
succeed and excel in whatever their goals may be.
—Beth Lomanto ’02/master’s program
By August, Beth Lomanto will have her master’s degree and
be certified in the areas of social studies, physics and general
She hopes to teach astronomy and coach field hockey at the high school
level, or to be an educator in the planetarium/ museum field. She is
the daughter of Ann Warner Lomanto ’72.
It isn’t often that you walk into a classroom and hear, “I’ll
do whatever you guys want, as long as we all learn.”
started her Education 540: Language Acquisition and Literacy Development
class just this way. As other professors told her she was crazy,
Dunning took on an enlarged class of over 60 eager students because she cannot
say no to any student who wants to learn. In order to cope, Dunning simply
relied on her ability to look beyond the problem, find a solution and put all
of her heart into the classroom.
Dunning taught us how to work in a cooperative
learning environment. Her ability to give individual attention when
needed, clarify what is expected, bring her
intelligence and knowledge to an understandable level while keeping the topic
interesting, appeal to different learning styles, assess what has been taught
and what should be known, teach for learning and not memorization, and finally
leave the student with a feeling of accomplishment after class define her teaching.
What brings Dunning’s teaching to life, however, is her ability
to bring so much energy and emotion into the classroom. “When
you see a teacher who spends her days in a classroom of ninth-graders
who are struggling to read,
you understand the teacher’s dedication to coming to St. Lawrence and
teaching us what she does. That itself is motivation to hear and learn every
word she says,” says one of those Language Acquisition students, Lindsay
Dunning teaches reading-impaired students at Clifton-Fine
Central School, about 45 minutes south of Canton. After seven hours of that,
she drives to St. Lawrence
to take graduate courses herself, and then ends her day teaching Education
540. Taking time out of her busy schedule says all that needs to be said
to a student: “I want to be here.” From teacher to student
and back to teacher, her actions speak aloud her greatest quality as
a teacher: hard-working.
—Jessica Knapp ’03
Hailing from Boulder, Col., Jessica Knapp was an intern in the
University communications office in spring 2003, and was a member
of the women’s
ice hockey team.
Feedback—A Two-Way Street
It can be intimidating during your first year at college when you
realize that your professor knows your writing well – sometimes
even better than you do. After a while, though, most students learn
to appreciate the feedback from their professors and apply the suggestions
to better their writing.
One of the most beneficial habits I practice
is al-ways reading the feedback from my professors on my assignments
and papers. As an English
major, I realize that I am in college to improve my writing, and to
do so means discovering where I consistently make errors, so that I
can eliminate them.
One of my professors went beyond the usual scribbling
in the margins that characterize most feedback. In my screenwriting
by English Professor Sid Sondergard, I would submit weekly, five-page
screenplays and receive back in response a full-page, single-spaced
critique of each piece. I couldn’t ignore the fact that Sid had
worked so hard to help me im-prove. Having a professor like Sid, who
is so committed to his students, in turn makes me want to work harder
and achieve the level of writing that he feels, and I know, I can obtain.
can work both ways. I took Survey of English Literature 1700-Present
with professor Caroline Breashears during her first semester at St.
Lawrence. She asked us to evaluate her teaching and the course structure
halfway through the semester. I’m sure that no one
expected her to bring a completely revised syllabus into our next class,
based on the suggestions we had made. She did exactly that. She took
our comments to heart and changed the structure of the course, which
ended up as one of my favorites. For the same reason that it is important
to listen to feedback from a professor, it was refreshing to see a
professor embrace the feedback from her students.
—Jackie Roy ’04
Jackie Roy, from Massena, N.Y., was an intern in University communications
and editor-at-large of The Hill News in spring 2003. She has
studied on St. Lawrence’s program in London.
Although most of the faculty at SLU won’t make us do extra laps
around the track if our grades aren’t good, they will help every
student to reach their potential. Over my four years, my professors
have taught me what it means to have limitless potential.
A true mentor-learner
relationship develops when students are encouraged to reach their
potential in all areas of life. Through strong one-on-one
discussion, a faculty member can lead me to focus a research paper,
search for a career, or just find the time to get my work done.
As mentors, my
teachers have always kept an open-door policy. Last-second questions
on a test can be answered from home if necessary. They always
teach, even when I run into them shopping at the P&C. Some of my
favorite college moments have been sitting and talking with Jon Parmenter,
of history and Native American studies, about my research, current
events, or how to better my writing.
In front of the classroom, my teachers
have encouraged me to reach my potential through interaction and
stimulating projects. It is easy
for a professor who knows so much about a subject to just ramble
on in class with no regard for the class itself. My teachers have not
done this. They have kept us active by relating to us and our daily
—Ray Marcero ’03
Ray Marcero, of Weatherly, Pa., double-majored in history and government
and doubled-minored in Native American studies and European studies.
Sojourn with Yesterday
With the right knowledge, training and presentation, a teacher can
make a classroom discussion come alive, but actually traveling to a
location that has been discussed
makes the words three-dimensional.
My undergraduate majors, Canadian
studies and history, allowed me many opportunities to journey to places
where history happened. Professor
of Canadian Studies Robert Thacker and others offered trips through
all the pages of our textbooks.
As first-year students we visited Ottawa’s
Parliament Hill and saw the vividly active “Q&A” period
in the House of Commons. Questions and answers were shouted back and
forth, in both
English and French. Our guide pointed out that regardless of how boorish
the comments were, not to worry, the party in power and the official
opposition sit on opposite sides of the House, two-and-a-half sword
Twice I was able to experience the Canadian wilderness
as a guest of the Trent University Canadian studies program. The highlights
weekends, aside from bunking in rustic cabins heated by wood-burning
stoves, brilliant electrical storms and unblemished views of the aurora
borealis, were the season’s first snowflakes—in mid-September.
the ultimate Canadian studies experience was a January 2002 transcontinental
train trip. The two-and-a-half-week journey provided culture, arts,
history, sports and plenty of hearty cold at layovers across the nation.
On what VIA Rail aptly calls “a more civilized way to travel” we
met travelers from near and far, chilled our bones at the coldest intersection
in Canada (Portage and Main in Winnipeg) and managed to reserve ice
time and an instructor at the Winnipeg Curling Club (curling is not
as easy as it looks).
In Saskatchewan we trekked across the vast empty
landscape to visit the site where Métis leader Louis Riel battled
the Canadian government in 1885. We felt the serenity and loneliness
the historic church pierced with bullet holes, while the quiet cemetery
overlooking the snowy prairies encouraged self-refection. The names
on the headstones gave meaning to our textbooks back in Canton.
Pacific Coast we studied totem poles, visited the home of famous Canadian
author and artist Emily Carr, and took an ecological hike
on a beach (clothing legally optional,but bear in mind it was January).
Going to places where history happened enlivens education. Each location’s
unique significance is up to us to determine. Read mailbox names, gravestone
markers, plaques to extract deeper meanings. Let your next outing be
a sojourn with yesterday.
—Jarrod Caprow ’02/Educational Administration graduate
Hailing from the Buffalo, N.Y., area, Jarrod Caprow thought he
knew what cold was until he stood at Portage and Main in Winnipeg.
enrolled in St. Lawrence’s master’s program, with hopes
of becoming a school district administrator, and also works in the
University’s admissions and security and safety departments.