William Chaney

Tag: William Chaney

Legendary Lawrence Professor William Chaney Passes Away at Age 90

Professor Emeritus of History William Chaney has passed away at his home. He was 90 years old.

An iconic figure in the college’s history, he was hired by President Nathan Pusey and joined the history department in 1952. He was appointed the George McKendree Steele Professor of Western Culture in 1966 and was honored in 973 as the first recipient of Lawrence’s Uhrig Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Although he “retired” after 47 years in 1999, he continued to annually teach a class First and Third Terms, including this year. His 61-years of teaching is the second-longest tenure in the college’s history.

One of the college’s most beloved teachers, Bill was a recognized scholar on the Middle Ages and a member of the Royal Society of Arts. A true Anglophile, he knew people throughout England and had many friends in Malta as a result of his annual trips to both places.

His students number in the thousands, many of whom followed in his footsteps to become historians. He was a frequent instructor at Lawrence’s London Center and on tours of England with students, would famously pick out a random date from the 1100s or 1200s and tell them what happened on that specific day.

The “Chaney oak,” grown from an acorn collected in Devonshire, England by a former student, was shipped to campus and planted in 1995 in sight of his Main Hall office as a tribute to him.

A legendary lecturer who captivated his audience, whether in the classroom, a Bjorklunden seminar room or at an alumni event, Bill was known for the “salons” he would host regularly at his home for intellectual discussions with small groups of students, offering sherry to those of legal age, Dr. Pepper for those who weren’t.

He was a Medievalist to the core, refusing to have a computer installed in his office. His fascination with the Middle Ages began in childhood in California, sparked by the poetry of Sir Walter Scott. He charmed many with a droll sense of humor, referring to himself as “a wave of the past.” He loved classical music, but often joked he didn’t like anything written after 1791.

He earned his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees at the University of California-Berkeley and was a Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. He was the author of the book “The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England” and contributed dozens of articles and reviews to professional journals.

He was fond of reminding people he first came to Lawrence with the intention of just checking things out and then moving on, but on the eve of his retirement in 1999, remarked, “I can’t imagine a better life than the kind I’ve had here. It’s a way of life after all, not just a job.”

A funeral service will be held Friday, March 22 at 11 a.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church, 100 N. Drew St., Appleton, with a reception following immediately afterward.

Lawrence will celebrate Bill’s life and remarkable achievements with a memorial service on Saturday, May 18.

Lawrence University Celebrates 160th Commencement, Honors New York Times Columnist

APPLETON, WIS. — In recognition of his professional achievements, Lawrence University will award New York Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree Sunday, June 14 at the college’s 160th commencement. As part of commencement exercises, Herbert also will address the graduating seniors.

Lawrence is expected to confer 324 bachelor of arts and/or music degrees to 314 seniors from 32 states and 14 foreign countries during graduation ceremonies that begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Main Hall green.

William Chaney, George McKendree Steele Professor Emeritus of History, delivers the address “College and the Final Exam” at a baccalaureate service Saturday, June 13 at 11 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The baccalaureate service and commencement are free and open to the public.

During commencement, President Jill Beck, Lawrence Board of Trustees Chair Harry Jansen Kraemer ’77 and seniors Nora Taylor of Chicago and James Duncan Welke of Appleton will join Herbert in addressing the graduates.

An award-winning journalist, Herbert has enjoyed a career spanning both print and broadcast media. Since June 1993, he has written a twice-a-week column on politics, urban affairs and social trends for the New York Times, telling stories that give ordinary people hope and a voice. Prior to joining the Times, he spent two years as a national correspondent for NBC, reporting for “The Today Show and “NBC Nightly News.”

Born in Brooklyn, Herbert began his journalism career in 1970 as a reporter with The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J. He joined The Daily News in New York in 1976 as a general assignment reporter and later served as national correspondent, consumer affairs editor, city hall bureau chief and city editor. He was appointed to the paper’s editorial board in 1985 and began writing columns that ran in The Daily News for eight years.

He launched his broadcast career in 1990 as a founding panelist of “Sunday Edition,” a weekly discussion program on WCBS-TV in New York and also served as host of “Hotline,” a weekly hour-long issues program on WNYC-TV.

His writing has earned Herbert numerous awards, including the American Society of Newspaper Editors award in 1988 for distinguished deadline writing, Columbia University School of Journalism’s 1989 Mike Berger Award, which honors distinguished and enterprising reporting by New York journalists and most recently, the 2008 David Nyhan Prize from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University for excellence in political reporting. He is a former chairman of the Pulitzer Prize jury for spot news reporting.

Herbert is the author of the 2005 book “Promises Betrayed: Waking Up from the American Dream,” a collection of essays in which he examines the lives of ordinary citizens, minorities and children who are facing real problems in a society he argues too often fails to meet the American creed of fairness and justice.

Read Herbert’s charge to the Class of 2009.