Courtesy of SU Special Collections Research Center
The West Side YMCA (1930), 63rd Street at Central Park West, New York City, was designed by architect Dwight James Baum ’09.
Belva Ann Bennett McNall Lockwood 1857, G 1872, H’09 (1830-1917) was a 22-year-old widowed single mother when she enrolled in Genesee College (SU’s first campus) to become a teacher. An advocate of sexual equality, she introduced public speaking and gymnastics courses for women in a Lockport, New York, public school and founded a coeducational school in Washington, D.C. In 1871, she enrolled in law school at National (now American) University, but officials informed her she could not graduate because she made male students uncomfortable. Outraged, Lockwood enlisted the aid of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant (ex officio president of the law school). Grant secured Lockwood’s diploma and sponsored her admission to the District of Columbia Bar Association. She won cases leading to equal pay for women in the D.C. civil service, divorce law reform, recognition of paranoia as a disease, and restitution for the Cherokee Nation. The first woman ever to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, she successfully defended the right of Samuel R. Lowry, an African American attorney, to argue before the court. In 1884, as presidential nominee of the suffragist Equal Rights Party, Lockwood captured the votes of the Indiana delegation to the Electoral College. Her international reputation won her a seat on the Nobel Prize for Peace nominating committee. “Fight, fight, fight, everlastingly—not with your claws and fists, but with your wits,” she told the New York World in 1912. In 1986, a U.S. commemorative postage stamp was issued in her honor.
  Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division LC-BH834-55
Courtesy of Adelaide Henley
singh


Wilmeth Sidat-Singh ’39 (1917-43) stands among the greatest athletes ever to wear the Orange and as an individual of extraordinary courage whose example transcends the playing field. Born Wilmeth Webb, he took the name of his adoptive father, Dr. Samuel Sidat-Singh, a Harlem physician who married his widowed mother. Attending DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, he led the Governors to a city basketball championship in 1934. Despite those credentials, he received just one scholarship offer—from Syracuse University. In an article for The Syracusan magazine, Don Kallock ’38 described the pre-med zoology major as “an omnivorous reader…more interested in a sheepskin than a pigskin.” Even so, Sidat-Singh did not disappoint SU sports fans. The 6-foot, 190-pound guard led the basketball team to four straight winning seasons. He joined the football team as a sophomore after assistant coach Roy Simmons Sr. spotted him completing a 55-yard pass, flat-footed, in an intramural game. Sidat-Singh started at single-wing halfback, a position roughly equivalent to today’s quarterback. With only nine minutes left in the 1938 Cornell game, he engineered three touchdown drives, completing six passes for 150 yards, to pull out a wild 19-17 victory over the number one-ranked Big Red. Although a hero and leader on campus, Sidat-Singh was subject to the indignities plaguing all African Americans. When the Orange ventured south of the Mason-Dixon line, local college officials prevented him from playing, citing segregation laws. Banned from the 1937 game at Maryland (which the Orange lost, 13-0), he remained silent until the Terrapins visited Archbold Stadium the following autumn. His response—to Maryland and Jim Crow—was to lead Syracuse to a 53-0 rout. During World War II, Sidat-Singh was selected as a member of the elite Tuskegee Airmen, the only pilot training unit open to African Americans in the segregated armed forces. Shortly after gaining his pilot’s wings, Sidat-Singh went down in Lake Huron due to the engine failure of his P-40. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His basketball jersey was unveiled at a halftime Carrier Dome ceremony on February 26.

Courtesy of Mount Holyoke College Archives
and Special Collections
Clapp
Cornelia Maria Clapp, left, works with students in a science lab at Mount Holyoke College (circa 1890s).


Cornelia Maria Clapp G 1889 (1849-1934) was a pioneering research zoologist who inspired women to seek careers in the natural sciences. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College in 1871, Clapp followed a conventional path for educated women of her time, teaching Latin at a boys’ school. But a college lecturer, recognizing Clapp’s potential as a scientist, kept in touch, inviting her to professional meetings and field trips. “I had an opening of doors,” Clapp said. “I felt my mind going in every direction.” Clapp returned to Mount Holyoke to become a biology lecturer. But to engage in complex research, she needed a full faculty appointment, requiring a doctorate. She turned to Syracuse, one of the few universities admitting women to graduate programs in the sciences. With a Ph.D., Clapp returned to Mount Holyoke and emerged as a leading scholar in marine zoology, publishing her work in top journals and developing new teaching facilities, including a laboratory fish tank that allowed students to better observe animal behaviors. She later earned a second doctorate at the University of Chicago. Spending summers at the Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, Clapp was the first woman elected to its board of trustees. After 15 years of faculty debate, she was promoted to professor in 1904. Former students established a faculty research fellowship in her honor and Clapp Hall, home of the college’s biology department, is named in her honor. “I have always had an idea that if you want to do a thing, there is no particular reason why you shouldn't do it,” she said.


Mckelvey

Vincent E. McKelvey ’37, H’75 (1916-87), a geologist, served as ninth director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Originally planning to become a Methodist minister, McKelvey transferred to Syracuse after a year in seminary. He was introduced to the sciences by geology professor Louis W. Ploger, whom McKelvey accompanied on field trips into the Salt Springs Road peridotite dike, a geological formation believed to be the western terminus of the world’s largest system of continuous caves, stretching from a mile east of campus to the British isles. McKelvey joined the USGS’s metalliferous deposits section, a back office thrust centerstage in World War II by the demands for resources. McKelvey made crucial mineral discoveries in the Western states, including uranium deposits in Utah, and analyzed Pacific islands for Allied landings. His research on phosphorites is credited with leading to undersea discoveries of gas and oil around the world. McKelvey helped write the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty and was a regular figure at international forums. His love of field-based research—a passion acquired as a Syracuse student—made him reluctant to accept administrative positions. But he did not refuse the nation’s top geological office. Among his achievements during a six-year tenure as USGS director, two stand out: creation of a reliable system for estimating gas and oil deposits (still in use); and establishment of an ethics counsel to oversee annual employee reviews.

baum
Syracuse University Archives

Dwight James Baum ’09 (1886-1939), an award-winning architect and critic, was a descendant of Dutch patroons from the Mohawk Valley. The clients of his New York City practice included Broadway mogul Arthur Hammerstein and Florida circus impresario John Ringling. Baum incorporated early Dutch colonial-era building details, such as rustic gambrel roofs, in many of the homes he built along the Hudson in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. His most acclaimed building is probably the Italian-Romanesque West Side YMCA (1930) at 63rd Street near Central Park. It contains a variety of vertically arranged athletic spaces and lodging for 900. Baum designed two prominent campus buildings: Hendricks Chapel (a collaboration with John Russell Pope, 1930) and Maxwell Hall (1937). He was serving on the New York World’s Fair design committee when he died of a heart attack at age 53.


Courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University Archives
fax
Mark Fax performs on the piano with his Howard University colleague, playwright and director Owen Dodson (circa 1960s).

 

Mark Oakland Fax ’33 (1911-74) was a composer and a professor of music. A child prodigy, he played silent film scores at a Baltimore movie palace on Saturdays and gospel music at an African American church on Sundays. Fax enrolled at Syracuse on the advice of his brother Elton ’31, a writer, who believed Syracuse faculty would take his aspirations as a classical composer seriously. While earning a bachelor of music degree with honors, Fax won the prestigious Julius Rosenwald Fellowship in a national competition and was elected to the All-University Honor Society. Depression-era conditions compelled him to turn down graduate fellowship offers, and he accepted a position at Paine College in Georgia, where he founded and chaired the music department. Feeling that he was stagnating artistically, he returned to Central New York in 1942 to study advanced composition at the Eastman School of Music. To support his family, he served as both choirmaster and janitor at a Rochester church until he won a rare second Rosenwald Fellowship. In 1947, Fax was appointed professor of piano, counterpoint, and composition at Howard University. In the Washington limelight, he finally received public attention. Washington Post critic Paul Hume praised Fax’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano as “striking…difficult…a work of surprising contrapuntal texture” and declared the composer’s oeuvre “music of rare power.” ’Til Victory is Won (1966), Fax’s epic operatic history of the African American experience, was mounted at the Kennedy Center.

Macdonald

macdonald

John D. MacDonald ’38 (1916-88) is among the best-selling novelists in history. He earned business degrees from SU and Harvard and served as a wartime spy for U.S. intelligence—all before seeing his first byline. A master of crime, mystery, and suspense fiction, he produced some 75 books and more than 500 short stories. Travis McGee, MacDonald’s private-eye persona, appears in 21 novels, including The Green Ripper, which won the 1980 American Book Award and sold more than 32 million copies. Many MacDonald books have been adapted for the screen, including The Executioners (1958), filmed twice as Cape Fear.

 

fraser

Susan H. Keeter ’85 G’89
Fraser
Courtesy of the Department of Historical Collections, Health Sciences Library, SUNY Upstate Medical University

 

Sarah Loguen Fraser G 1876 (1850-1933) was the daughter of Reverend Jermain Wesley Loguen (a former slave) and Caroline Storum, abolitionist activists who turned the family home at Genesee and Pine streets, just blocks from campus, into an Underground Railroad station that sheltered more than 1,500 escaping slaves. A graduate of SU’s College of Medicine (now Upstate Medical University), she was the fourth African American woman certified as a physician in the United States. After interning in Philadelphia and Boston, she opened a practice in Washington, D.C. In 1882, Frederick Douglass, a family friend, introduced her to Dr. Charles Fraser, a Dominican pharmacist, whom she married. Relocating to Santo Domingo, Loguen Fraser learned Spanish to pass a certification exam, becoming the first woman licensed to practice medicine in the history of the Dominican Republic. Following news of her death, flags in the country flew at half-staff for nine days.

 

borchardt

Selma Munter Borchardt ’22, ’23 (1895-1968), a German immigrant, was a teacher and union activist who became an attorney in mid-career. She continued to teach in Washington, D.C., public schools until retirement, while her law practice grew to the point where she argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Borchardt fought for students by advocating child labor laws, and defended her profession by serving as the American Federation of Teachers’ chief legislative counsel and Congressional lobbyist. She was also a frequent consultant to the FDR administration on educational and child welfare matters.

 

Greenberg

Clement Greenberg ’30 (1909-94) remains a primary theorist of modern art. He was among the first to articulate a full appreciation of abstract expressionist painters, including Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, and Jackson Pollock. During the ’40s, Greenberg edited the Partisan Review and was art critic for The Nation. Art and Culture (1961) is perhaps his most complete statement. “Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” a 1939 essay on the aesthetics of cheap, mass-produced knock-offs (which he developed from observations first scribbled at a Marshall Street eatery), remains crisply prescient.

 

fall

Bernard B. Fall G’52, G’55 (1926-67) was a decorated teenage French resistance fighter who served as a researcher for the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal. Studying at the Sorbonne, he won a Fulbright Fellowship and came to Syracuse for graduate work in political science at the Maxwell School. Urged by professors to study Southeast Asia (“French Indochina”), he made the region his career focus, journeying to Vietnam to conduct dissertation research. He published his first book, The Viet-Minh Regime (1953), before receiving a doctorate. As U.S. involvement in Vietnam grew, Fall defied classification as a hawk or dove, gaining the suspicion of both camps. While vigorously opposing North Vietnam and the Viet Cong as tools of Chinese expansionism, he urged three U.S. administrations to make land reform a precondition for supporting the Saigon government, believing it essential to any victory. This political free-thinking brought him the rare distinction of delivering an invited lecture at the National War College while under surveillance as a “subversive foreign agent” by order of F.B.I. chief J. Edgar Hoover. A Howard University professor from 1956 until 1967, Fall was killed by a Viet Cong landmine while attached to U.S. forces near Hue. He completed a handful of books (notably, Streets Without Joy, 1961), predicting the future of the Vietnam War with eerie accuracy. He is credited with coining the term “weapons of mass destruction” to describe such armaments as napalm and agent orange. “My ambition was to be the foremost military writer of my generation,” he said.

 

Konstanly
The Topps Company Inc.

Konstanty

Jim Konstanty ’39 (1917-76) was the son of Western New York Polish immigrant cabbage farmers. A right-hander, he pitched his way to a baseball scholarship in 1935, and also lettered in basketball, soccer, and boxing. A high school teacher and coach, he summered in professional baseball, yo-yoing between the bigs and the minors. His career took second wind when Philadelphia Phillies manager Eddie Sawyer transformed him from dubious starter to bullpen ace. In 1950, Konstanty appeared in a record 74 games, going 16-7, with 24 saves. He was named National League MVP as the “Whiz Kids” of Philadelphia captured their first pennant in 35 years. A journeyman suddenly living large, he signed a 1951 contract that made him one of the highest paid players in baseball.

Courtesy of the Rome (N.Y.) Historical Society
Fisher
Welthy Honsinger Fisher, left, meets with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Fisher, a friend of the prime minister’s father, was the first American to appear on an Indian postage stamp (1980).

Fisher

Welthy Honsinger Fisher 1900, G’21, H’65 (1879-1980) was a teacher, philanthropist, and author. After volunteering for the YWCA in France during World War I, she traveled to Asia and devoted her life to promoting literacy. During the ’20s, her personal friends included Gandhi and Sun Yat-sen. Through her organization, World Literacy Inc., Fisher created Literacy Houses, which trained thousands of dedicated teachers in India and China. Bearing special classroom equipment made to fit on bicycles (some of it designed by Fisher), her army of teachers pedaled to remote villages and taught thousands, who in turn taught millions, to read and write. SU honored her with the George Arents Pioneer Medal for international culture in 1948. To celebrate her 100th birthday, Fisher traveled back to Asia. She was the oldest foreigner on record to visit China. In India, she accepted an honorary degree from Delhi University and the government issued a postage stamp bearing her likeness.

 

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