Thursday, July 25, 2013

Campus Legacy

No, that's not Sam.  That's the humble author with his grandfather, William Searl Hoffman, in 1969.

A week or so ago, I was looking through a collection of books I have at home.  I call this particular section of the library the Hoffman Memorial Collection- books that belonged to my mother and her parents and are inscribed with their names.  Most of Mom's are from her college years.  There are several that belonged to my grandfather, and one- his copy of Don Quixote- has in pencil, below his name, "Carnegie Technical Inst".  I had a vague memory that he'd gone there for schooling.  Part of what now is Carnegie Mellon University, it was a trade school and was where he went after graduating from West Tech High School in Cleveland to learn to be a printer.

I did some Googling to see if I could find anything about his time at Carnegie Tech.  Nothing came up, but I *did* find his name in a document housed at CWRU's own digital repository, Digital Case.  Not once but three times does his name appear in commencement bulletins for Western Reserve University: in 1932 when he was awarded a certificate for teaching industrial arts, in 1936 when he earned a B.S. in education and again in 1942 when he earned a M.A. in Education- all of these while he was employed as a teacher in the Cleveland Public School system as an instructor of printing.  And all of them occurred after he became a family man.

Why his education at WRU wasn't celebrated family lore is beyond me.  My sister Jane has a memory of Grandpa's graduate degree, but nothing beyond the fact of it.

I'd always dated my family's connection with CWRU (and all of its past incarnations) with my mother's graduate education in Library Science in 1957-58.  Dad came to campus almost exactly a decade later and completed his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics in 1970.  A decade and a half after that, I arrived as an undergraduate on campus earning my B.A. in English in 1988 and M.A. in English in 1993.  But it turns out our connection goes back a further 25 years with my grandfather's education.  So not a bad set of sheepskins for one family from one university.

I just wish Grandpa had stayed with us longer:  he died at the age of 62, in 1971.