During this holiday season, write a note of thanks to someone who positively influenced your Colgate experience — a parent, roommate, teacher, friend.

Back to Your Stories
Patricia A. Gazda-Grace ’77 | Alumni

I was a Master's degree student at Colgate when the MA was offered in Guidance. My best memory was of my mentor, now retired, Dr. David Brenner. Dr. Brenner challenged me, inspired me and actually helped me to become the person I am today. He would accept nothing less than "outstanding" in written work and discussion in socratic seminar. I look back fondly on my experiences at Colgate and how they challenged me to seek excellence. I went on to obtain my doctorate and work as a counselor and school administrator. I am now teaching at the college level. I continue to support Colgate every year.

Frederick W. H. Rudofsky ’89 | Alumni

Peter Balakian has had a profound influence on my twenty-three year career as a high school English teacher. I took several courses with him at Colgate, ranging from American Literature and Creative Writing, to those he taught during the 1988 London English Study Group, including a memorable seminar on the poetry of W. B. Yeats.

Professor Balakian encouraged me to take my own writing seriously, read with an open ear and mind, and draw upon other fields of study--art, music, film, history-- when approaching literature. His patient encouragement drew upon considerable scholarship, respect for the creative process, and an appreciation for dialogue within a classroom. He also made it a point to remind us in all of his courses that language is a living thing; the prime example of this tenet would be the many guest speakers, especially poets like Craig Raine, Eavan Boland and Seamus Heaney, that came to our classroom at Kensington Square in London all those years ago.

I try my best to emulate Professor Balakian's philosophy of teaching with my own students, especially my senior AP Literature students who thrive when they are challenged to think for themselves. Some of the best classes are those when the teacher gets to observe the sparks fly during a class discussion. I learned that such energy is possible in Professor Balakian's classes.

Lastly, I admire Professor Balakian for his commitment to human rights. Each year, before my 11th grade students begin reading Elie Wiesel's "Night", I show them the late Bob Simon's "60 Minutes" segment that featured Professor Balakian's uniquely personal perspective on the Armenian genocide. I tell my students after the segment, "That was Peter Balakian, my former professor at Colgate. He inspired me to become a teacher. I hope he has inspired you to ask the hard questions about history, memory, and the state of our own era when you are reading Wiesel's memoir."

Thank you, Peter Balakian, for your profound influence on my career in education.

Michael Murray ’87 | Alumni

Dan Saracino was my mentor, my advisor and an incredible teacher. I never saw anyone enjoy being in the classroom more than Dan. I first met him 2nd semester freshman year and he lit up the room. Yes he made math fun. I was in his classroom as the math levels became more difficult and class sizes got small and finally in my senior year he took me on for an independent one on one course that was the abstract of abstract algebra. He pushed me and instilled pride in me telling my mother at one time “I’ve seen a lot of good math people but rarely do I see someone with talent”. That statement from someone I admired as a person and who awed me with his intelligence has always given me strength and confidence. Dan is the best of the best and I could never thank him enough for making my Colgate experience so wonderful and being a voice on my shoulder throughout my 30+ year career. I was fortunate to be named the Global Head of Human Resources at Citi for the final stint of my career and I don’t think I would have gotten that far without Dan Saracino.

James Fox ’62 | Alumni

No prof, coach, campus job supervisor, classmate, teammate or roommate rises to the top as a single most influencial person in my four years at Colgate. There was a larger, pervasive influence .

Before freshman year, my world was small, provincial, and had clear, set boundaries. Unsurprisingly, I came from a small rural town amongst mostly white, Anglo, Protestant Christian, conservative townsfolk. Good people.

By today’s standards, a private, all men’s college of thirteen hundred in a rural small town would seem pretty unidimensioal. But as a freshman at Colgate, I was smacked with diversity I was unaccustomed to, but fascinated and curious about; was soon attracted to; later lived amongst; and was - thankfully - influenced by.

Colgate’s diversity challenged my small world to expand. The breadth of our Core courses was the blueprint of a liberal arts education. Were it my choice, in the spring semester of my senior year, I would have avoided a course in current foreign affairs. But no, I had to take Core 41 and got a ‘D’ because on my final exam didn’t know a thing about Apartheid. Thirty years later when we got an exchange student from South Africa, what I didn’t study in my senior year all came back to me. Having to take Core 41 expanded my world’s boundaries. Today I attribute Colgate for making Nelson Mandela one of my life’s heros. Thank you.

The cultural, religious, racial, ethnic and economic diversity of my fraternity brothers took me far away from the uniformity of my home town. I can remember as a sophomore being in puzzled awe because I didn’t understand the issues, concepts, and debate language that was exchanged between upper-classmen at a fraternity meeting. One of them, red-faced with anger, charged his adversary: “Who are you to question my motives?” Respect for differing views from diverse perspectives while enduring controversy, shaped and honed my values and beliefs. We are more alike than we are different. More good people. Thank you.

Exposure to the big world of the arts: the revolving international art treasures that came to the tiny gallery in Lawrence Hall led me to find the Manzú gallery in Ardea-Rome fifteen years later; and the Case Library assistant who suggested, “if you like jazz, you might like Bartok”. Thank you.

These things started soaking into me in September 1958, and are part of me today. Diversity at Colgate was a powerful force in the expansion of my world. I was carried with it as it was shaping me, and I am grateful.

Jim Fox, ‘62

Kelly A Robinson MD ’82 | Alumni

My Colgate experiences centered around 3 people. First and foremost there was my head football coach Fred Dunlap. He and his wife Marilyn were exemplary role models for me as a young man growing up without a father.Secondly I must recognize and salute my position coach at the time coach Dick Biddle.He is a truly wonderful human being and mentor. He gave me the mental toughness to achieve all my dreams. Lastly I must honor the memory of Jack Mitchell.a biology professor extraordinaire and Colgatef Red Raiders most loyal fan. He helped inspire me to fulfill my dream of a career in medicine . I am forever grateful to these people

Paul Eugene Schulze ’53 | Alumni

At a time when I was in crisis I sought counseling with M. Holmes (Steve) Hartshorne and he helped me find a new path to follow my true aspiration. In this way he probably saved me from suicide. We remained friends for the rest of his life, and my wife and I also stayed in touch with Mrs. Ruth Hartshorne thereafter. Steve's course on Depth Psychology and Religion was a profound influence on me. All my Colgate professors at the time (1952) were top notch, but I especially remember "Joltin' Joe" Matthews in the Philosophy and Religion department. Also "Woody" Gates was a fine professor of German Language and Literature.

Norman Earl Whitten, Jr. ’59 | Alumni

I majored in Sociology and Anthropology, and thanks to Professor John Longyear, I made the decision to matriculate for an MA and Ph.D at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. I explain this relationship in my published memoir Patterns Through Time: An Ethnographer's Quest and Journey. Thanks to John's help and encouragement I moved through the program of anthropology at UNC, taking my Ph..D in 1964. I am forever grateful to him for everything he did to nudge me the right direction.