Science sage Hyde retires after 43 years

After four decades in Snygg Hall, Kenneth Hyde, distinguished teaching professor of chemistry, traded in his course notes for a hammer and level. Retiring after a 43-year career in the classroom, he has a new avocation: fixing up an old camp on the south shore of Skaneateles Lake, where he and his wife will spend time in retirement.

Hyde is known to generations of Oswego students, who first contemplated the periodic table in Chem 111 and 212, large lecture classes. They learned a lot from the soft-spoken man of science, but he took away something from them, too. “You work with students in the prime of life, some of it rubs off,” he said of the energizing effect of working with undergraduates.

Ken Hyde

Kenneth Hyde (in blue lab coat) retired after four decades of teaching chemistry.

Hyde joined the fledgling chemistry department in 1968, recruited by Augustine Silveira and the late Richard Shineman.

“When I first came to campus, the buildings were new, the faculty was young and there was energy here,” Hyde said, comparing it to the current situation. “There is a rebirth, a resurgence — the enthusiasm is back,” Hyde said, especially evidenced in renovations for the Science, Technology and Innovation Corridor.

“When I reflect back on my career, it’s not important what you accomplished, but what your students accomplished,” Hyde said. He taught thousands in chemistry survey classes that served majors and non-majors alike and mentored 50 to 100 research students, including Ruth Baltus ’77, who chairs the department of chemical engineering at Clarkson University, and Peter Bocko ’75, chief technology officer for Corning Inc. (See story, p. 22)

Throughout his career, Hyde used sabbaticals to learn new skills that he brought into the classroom to benefit his SUNY Oswego students. He received a National Science Foundation grant to purchase computers for Oswego’s general chemistry lab, and worked with the University of Frankfurt in Germany, General Electric and the Oak Ridge National Laboratories, among others.

And despite four decades on the faculty, Hyde was always willing to try something new. During the past two years, he participated in a living-learning community with students in Riggs Hall. A small group — limited to 19 students — lived in the hall and participated in classes there.

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