The campus community will gather for a ceremony in memory of Roger E. Sipher at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 16, at the Interfaith Center on the corner of Prospect Terrace and Calvert Street.
Sipher, a longtime Cortland resident and SUNY distinguished service professor of history emeritus, served SUNY Cortland for 43 years. He died on Jan. 14.
Sipher had retired in 2004 after serving as a member of the SUNY Cortland History Department since 1961. But, until he became ill last year, he had continued reporting daily to his office, maintaining close friendships with former colleagues and attending his beloved SUNY Cortland sports events.
“Roger had an incredible dedication to students, a unique sense of humor, a love of history,” recalled History Department Chair Randi Storch. “He was a community builder in the department, across the campus and through his profession. There are hundreds of teachers and public school administrators who owe their careers to him.”
Another former colleague, Professor of Political Science Thomas Pasquarello, shared a similar observation.
“Roger Sipher cared deeply about his students, and they returned the favor,” Pasquarello said. “He had a great sense of humor, and used it to great effect in his teaching. His dedication to the craft of teaching influenced generations of teachers. Students who enrolled in the professional semester often remarked that they had become interested in the program because of good things they’d heard about Roger from their teachers.”
Pasquarello was referring to the College’s former secondary social studies curriculum, which Sipher helped to create in 1971, and which included the innovative and nationally renowned professional semester program for seniors. He coordinated the curriculum until his retirement.
In 1976, Sipher received the prestigious Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1987, he was presented the Distinguished Social Studies Educator Award by the Central New York Council for the Social Studies and Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich. The following year, Sipher received the Distinguished Social Studies Service Award from the New York State Council for the Social Studies. He was named a Distinguished Service Professor by the SUNY Board of Trustees in 1995.
Sipher is survived by his son, John Sipher; grandsons, Will, J.C. and Marc Sipher; his daughter, Kate Sipher; his former wife, Ann Sipher; and brother, Erton Sipher.