Dec. 02, 2011

College community remembers William J. Edgar's legacy

Edgar Lamron photo












For 36 years, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of Philosophy William J. Edgar taught, mentored and challenged students, helping them develop the skills to think in new ways and successfully pursue their dreams.

As a colleague, Edgar is known for his ideas, dedication and vision that helped shape Geneseo.

"Bill will be remembered as a legendary figure who had a hand in many of the things that make Geneseo the college it is today," said President Christopher C. Dahl.

William J. EdgarEdgar died on Nov. 10 and is being remembered by students, faculty, staff and friends. Alumni are sharing their memories on a special public page, as well.

Edgar joined the faculty in 1969 and chaired the philosophy department from 1978 until his retirement in 2005. He is the only Geneseo professor to win the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching twice. Edgar also chaired the College Senate and the Humanities Core Committee, played a vital role in creating the Faculty Personnel Committee and in the 1980s founded Geneseo's Honors Programs. The college renamed the program to The Edgar Fellows Program in his honor.

He and his wife, Professor Stacey Edgar, also provided opportunities to students by establishing two scholarships. In recognition for all of their time and assistance to students, the Edgars were awarded the Geneseo Medal for Philanthropy in 2003. Their contributions to curriculum and beyond helped establish the tradition of interdisciplinary teaching at Geneseo, says Dahl. Many say he is a shining example of Geneseo's tradition of faculty excellence and dedication.

"Without Bill, a great deal that is good about the college would not have come about," said Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Ronald Herzman, who joined the college the same year as Edgar.

Edgar was the intellectual and political force behind implementation of the Humanities sequence, said Herzman, who team taught a precursor to Humanities with Edgar as well as the first waves of faculty training sessions.

"I continue to plagiarize from his lucid lectures on the Greek philosophers," said Herzman. "More than what he did in this larger institutional context, however, I believe that his greatest contribution to the college was student by student— an uncountable number to whom he opened up the life of the mind, showed the importance of rigorous thinking, and modeled for them a life of dedication and purpose."