Remembering William J. Edgar
William J. Edgar, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, died on November 10, 2011. He was 78. 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. Below are thoughts and remembrances of Bill.
- I was fittingly reading a bunch of articles on interdisciplinary learning when I received the alumni email this morning. I had the pleasure of taking a class on aesthetics with Dr. Edgar sometime in the late 90s. I realized today that my brief time with him, when he asked his students to help him with his own intellectual journey, affected my practice as an educator as much, if not more, than anything else I have done. Thank you Bill.
- I had several classes with "Dr. Edgar" back in my undergrad days in the mid 1970's. I was always so postively challenged and encouraged by his intellectual discipline, his commitment to teaching and learning, and quiet sense of humor. As an anthropology major, I always felt invited into a broader world of learning-- never just "taking a class"--with Bill, in so many ways that enriched my own pursuits. He is one of the important influences I hope comes through in my own classroom teaching still to this day. On the other hand-- I never dared engage him on the racketball court; I would have been no match, and I knew it!
- Such a wonderful tribute, I met Dr. Edgar the first day of my freshman orientation he was such a wonderfully reassuring presence to a scared, overwhelmed freshman. He and Stacey helped me register for my first semester of classes. I was lucky enough to take multiple classes from them both during my time at Geneseo and to have Bill as my advisor but that very first meeting will always stand out in my mind. He was a wonderful professor and will be greatly missed. Condolences to Stacey and his family.
- Dr. Edgar truly changed my life. I wish I had stayed in contact with him or recontacted him or ANYTHING to have had more contact with him, especially once I truly grew up. There will never again be anyone like him. Thank you for believing in me, for understanding everything, for welcoming a bunch of naive kids into your home again and again -- and for fixing it so I will always think of you when I see The Princess Bride. Deepest condolences to Stacey and all his family. How lucky we all were to have traveled the way with him.
- A beautiful well written letter from President Dahl. Dr. Edgar's Philosphy classes were so unique. At the end of the term our class stood and gave him a standing ovation after his final lecture. I can't recall doing that for any other instructor at Geneseo. A truly special man and I feel honored to have been one of his students.
- We are deeply saddened by the passing of William J. Edgar, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of Philosophy on November 10. He was 78. 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. We welcome you all to share any memories of or thoughts about Bill.
- "I worked for him in the philosophy department and took the minutes of Faculty Senate minutes (as a work study student) while attending Geneseo from 1972 - 1974. He was also my teacher in two philosophy classes; he always wore a playful smile when I would lament about the fact that I could not understand some 'paradox'. During that time I also baby sat for their daughter. He has always had such a special place in my heart and memories of Geneseo always included this wonderful man."
Jean Jacobson Young '74
"I was not a philosophy major, but took a class from Bill. He was amongst the few professors who stood out and impressed me both with his intellect and his teaching ability. That I remember him fondly 20 years after having been his student is testament to the positive impact he made."
Gary Smith '91
- "Professor Edgar's classes were among the highlights of my time at Geneseo, and during her time there my daughter Caroline was admitted into the Honors Program that he created. (She also took Logic with his wife.) When she was admitted I wrote to him to tell him what an influence he'd been for me, and how pleased I was that the connection had endured for a second generation, and I am glad I took that moment. Now I am taking another to reflect with you on his personal importance in my life. Not a week goes by in my life when I fail to think about how fortunate I was in my undergraduate education, and in those moments Professor Edgar is nearly always one of the first people I think of. In addition to Logic and something else I took a advanced monstrous seminar, taught by Ken Deutsch, (PoliSci) Professor Edgar and Bill Martin (Economics) that amounted to a survey of 20th Century political philosophy and was one of the peak intellectual experiences of my life. I was a very lucky man to have studied with him, and Geneseo was lucky indeed to have had him for all those years. My condolences to the Geneseo community."
William C. Altreuter
- "Although it has been almost two decades since I was an undergraduate student in his class room - I am still guided by his profound approach to teaching. My career has afforded me a variety of experience and travel - to this day the only book I have kept through the years is a paperback version of "Evidence" written by Professor Edgar and taught in his class of the same name. He will be missed by many ..."
James W. Clark - Class of 89
- "I attribute so much of my success at Geneseo and post graduate to Dr. Edgar. He was my advisor and when I floundered about "what I want to be when I grow up", he suggested I take a Geography course and see how I liked it. I LOVED it. He recommended I become a Geography major with a Computer Science minor. I thought he was nuts. It was 1983, what did I need to know about computers? Little did I know! I did become a Geography major and got my degree at Geneseo, then went on to get my MA in Geography. When I was in graduate school and computer mapping and other computer skills were needed, I thought WHY DIDN'T I LISTEN? I took many Philosophy classes from Dr. Edgar and remember them well. My favorite and most memorable was "Minds, Dreams and Machines". I have talked about Dr. Edgar many times over the 25 years since I've graduated, attributing to him the success I found and the major I never expected to "fall into", but did and loved. If there is any sort of rememberance, I would love to know about it. Thank you Dr. Edgar for your guidance, patience and insight. I would not be where I am today if not for you"
Sharon (McKurth) NeugebauerClass of 1986
- "Bill Edgar was one of the finest teachers I had at Geneseo. I asked another fine teacher, Charles Goetzinger to recommend some good instructors to ne and the first person he mentioned was Bill Edgar. I took his Humanities classes and developed a friendship with him, and he wrote me recommendations for graduate school. I often speak of him to my own students."
- "I graduated in 1972 and remember Professor Edgar as if it were yesterday. My first class with him was Logic and I was immediately hooked. To this day I apply logic to problem solving and use it to detect fallacious reasoning.
My second class with him was the Philosophy of Mathematics and that class may have been a bit cerebral for my party oriented youth and yet I still recall pearls of wisdom as we debated whether or not the empty set was really empty and if the law of the excluded middle was valid. Oh, and let’s not forget Zeno’s Postulate where it was proven that we can’t really move.
I remember seeing the professor out side of class one day and I asked him how he was. Ever the philosopher, hwe thought for a moment and said, “I’m fine”.
He truly was a champion and an inspiration!
- "Bill was my mentor...he helped me get through my undergraduate trials and tribulations. I really don't think I could done it without him. He proof read all my papers and helped me become a better writer....he also shared his own stories of failure and success to help me gather a prospective on my life. We also shared many years at the noon time basketball games in Schrader gym. I think i started playing with Bill and the others when I was in 8th grade....we played together for 30 years...I will miss him. - John Bennett
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