College Honors Mary Hobson ’61

College Honors Mary Hobson ’61


The late SUNY Cortland graduate, Mary L. Dobenecker Hobson ’61, revered education and had recalled to her family with great fondness the campus where she earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

The campus community formally dedicated the Mary L. Hobson ’61 Lecture Hall in Sperry Center on Sept 19.

“She would be pleased that a lecture hall is named after her and that there will be many students there learning,” said her husband, Robert Hobson. “It was an honor for the Hobson family to do this for Mary.

“Mary loved teaching and she loved going to school,” Hobson said. “She loved kids, all kids.”

Mary Hobson died on July 27, 2010. The naming ceremony, held on what would have been her 72nd birthday, took place in the Sperry Center main floor lobby, outside the large lecture hall formerly known as Sperry Center, Room 104.

Her husband, who presented the College with a memorial gift on behalf of the Hobson family, spoke at the event, and SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum offered remarks on the occasion. 

The recognition reflects the alumna’s lasting affection for her alma mater and the College’s gratitude for receiving a gift in her name.

“We are very grateful to the Hobson family for making this gift to the College," said Michael Katz, the manager of leadership gifts. “When President Bitterbaum and I visited Mary out in California, she said that she was so looking forward to coming back to Cortland for her 50th reunion. It's sad that she missed the reunion, but very fitting that her family is coming to Cortland to dedicate this lecture hall in her memory on her birthday.”

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The Mary L. Hobson ’61 Lecture Hall is one of the building’s five jumbo lecture halls that together seat 900 students. In 2007, as the College’s primary large-classroom style lecture facility turned 40, Sperry Center reopened following a complete inside renovation. Currently the Hobson Lecture Hall features state-of-the-art sound and projection technology in a setting that was refurbished with acoustic panels using environmentally sustainable materials.

Mary Hobson grew up in Jamaica, N.Y., and graduated in 1957 from Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, N.Y.

Some years ago, in a written recollection for the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association, she had described the Cortland of her memory as a small town with lovely homes near the college where she had a wonderful undergraduate experience. Her reminisces included “green hills in the spring, snow and cold knees in the winter, Sigma Rho Sigma, demonstrating against tuition (in-state tuition was zero while she was a student), friends, some professors, walking up and down the hill, and Johnny Mathis tunes.”

A full lecture room in session.
Students attend a class in one of Sperry Center's five giant lecture rooms.

“Mary had a most enjoyable time while she was there at Cortland,” noted Robert Hobson, who once visited the campus with his wife around 1964. “Mary was at one time president of her sorority, Sigma Rho Sigma. Her cousin (Joan White Pascarella ’59) was with the sorority a couple years ahead of her.”

Upon graduation from SUNY Cortland, she taught on Long Island for one year, then moved to San Francisco, Calif., where she met Robert. They were married in 1963.

Mary Hobson taught elementary school in Pacifica for several years before moving to Lafayette, Calif. She raised the couple’s two children, Steven and Michael, and received a master’s degree in counseling from California State University at Hayward. She then returned to elementary education as a counselor in the Pittsburg (Calif.) School District.

Hobson retired in 2000 to pursue her loves of gardening, bridge, painting, traveling, reading, her church and family.