Three alumni pursued very different majors but what they have in common is that they found professors who made profound impacts on their lives.
By Andrea Maneri
Alumni Robert Hartmann ’54, Lois Schnakenberg ’56, M.A. ’68, and Alan Anderson, M.S. ’63, pursued very different majors during their years at Adelphi. What they all have in common is that they found professors at the University who made profound impacts on their lives.
She Was Extraordinary
When Robert Hartmann ’54 was looking at colleges, he did not have the money to pay for tuition. “I had decided on Spanish as my major, and Adelphi was kind enough to give me a scholarship to pursue Spanish,” he said.
Hartmann first met Spanish Professor Ruth Richardson the day he interviewed at Adelphi. He described her in just one word: extraordinary. “Adelphi’s Spanish department was a very small department at that time,” he said. “She took each of us under her wing.”
Dr. Richardson, who had established contacts across the country, helped arrange fellowships for many of her students to pursue graduate studies. “I chose to complete a master’s degree in Spanish in New Mexico. It was a great experience, and had it not been for Dr. Richardson, I would have never even thought to go out there.”
Hartmann went on to a career in international trade, which gave him the opportunity to travel globally and utilize his language skills in a variety of fields. Mr. Hartmann established a scholarship at Adelphi and is also a member of the Ruth S. Harley Planned Giving Society. “I feel I owe a debt to the institution as a result of the education I received at Adelphi,” he said. “I think supporting future generations is extremely important and creating a scholarship to benefit Spanish majors at Adelphi is a way for me to do that.”
“He Made Me an Artist”
Lois Schnakenberg ’56, M.A. ’68, quit her job as a secretary to come to Adelphi. “It was my dream to go to college,” she said.
An art major, she remembered classes with Albert S. Kelly, the head of the department, vividly. “He made me an artist,” said Schnakenberg, who described Kelly as nurturing and encouraging.
“He would grab ahold of his student’s brush and show you what was wrong with the picture,” she said. “He was never negative about your art. You were graded on how hard you tried. That was what mattered to him.”
Schnakenberg had such a good experience at Adelphi as an undergraduate that she returned to the University to pursue her master’s degree in art education in 1968.
The passion Kelly infused in her continues to flourish today. She has been a member of a number of professional art organizations, including the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum and the National League of American Pen Women. Schnakenberg, who continues to paint in her home studio, credits Professor Kelly with shaping her into the artist she is.
A Tremendous Impact
Alan Anderson, M.S. ’63, transferred to Adelphi from the University of Buffalo to complete a master’s degree in biology. He first met Biology Professor Richard Lacey when he became the graduate assistant in Lacey’s laboratory.
When family hardship left Anderson, in his words, “without a place to eat or sleep or a way to get to Adelphi,” Professor Lacey, although he never admitted it, went to see a University dean about a job for Anderson as the assistant director of the men’s residence hall.
“That job kept me alive,” Anderson said. “I can’t believe what Dick Lacey did for me… he didn’t know me…I was just a graduate assistant in the biology labs.” Anderson kept that job until he graduated and taught biology at Adelphi during the summer. He went on to the University of Rhode Island for doctoral work in the area of parasitology before teaching for 14 years at Westerly High School.
Lacey, who also served as Anderson’s thesis adviser, made such a tremendous impact on him that he decided to establish a scholarship in his professor’s honor at Adelphi. “I have a photo of Dick Lacey and my wife that I look at every day,” he said. “I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for Professor Lacey. That’s the reason why the scholarship is in his name.”
This article appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of The Catalyst, the College of Arts and Sciences newsletter.