This past Monday and Tuesday Geneseo celebrated the 25th anniversary of the humanities program. The events planned to commemorate the program were a panel of alumni discussing the impact of humanities on their lives. The other was a lecture from renowned Shakespeare scholar David Bevington.
The idea for the requirement began with an experimental two semester course in the mid-1970s entitled "Synthesis" taught by several professors of assorted disciplines. In his introduction to the alumni panel professor Bill Cook credited retired professor Bill Edgar with developing the concept for humanities. Cook referred to him as the "Godfather of the Humanities." During its inception the humanities program was met with much opposition and did not pass the first few times it appeared in College Senate. Many professors note that implementing this campus-wide requirement took much political savvy and determination from Edgar.
"There's a sense [about the anniversary] that 'we did it,' and we did it against the odds" said English professor Ron Herzman.
The events that occurred over the course of two days were the product of a year of discussion and accelerated into formal planning as the anniversary. Cook, Herzman, President Christopher Dahl, and the president's assistant Becky Glass were involved in the organization of the anniversary.
On March 26 three alumni, Greg Ahlquist, Dee Dee Rutigliano, and Matt Frame, and one current student, senior Takashi Furukawa, spoke about the affects that the humanities have had upon their lives. Cook, who planned this specific event, noted that he wanted to have a variety of people with a number of perspectives in order to testify to the universality of the course.
"My life is a product of books, teachers and guides that have given me direction," said Ahlquist.
David Bevington, an internationally recognized Shakespeare interpreter, delivered a lecture called "Hamlet had Two Fathers," on March 27 in Newton Hall. The lecture, which was scheduled by Herzman, was the main determinant of the scheduling of the celebration as a whole. Bevington, who previously taught humanities at the University of Chicago, said he felt a certain amount of kinship to the program at Geneseo. Due to the nature of his expertise and the familiarity that many professors have with Bevington, Herzman felt that he would be a great choice to celebrate the humanities.
The general consensus amongst those who were both involved with the creation and who currently teach humanities is one of vindication.
"It just so happens that the blossoming of Humanities at Geneseo coincided with the College's rise to fame," said professor Larry Blackman. "Could it be that the Humanities program is responsible, at least in part, for Geneseo's huge success in recent years? You be the judge."