Hinman's Former Collegiate Professors
Christian “Pete” Gruber
Educated at Princeton University and the Yale Drama School, Gruber served as a professor of English at Harpur College during its early days. He was responsible for helping to establish the collegiate structure and residential colleges as we know them today. He also was a leader in establishing the Theatre Department at Harpur College. His passion for theater would eventually lead him to help create the Hinman Little Theater (HLT), the predecessor organization of today’s Hinman Production Company (HPC). In 1967, he became the first collegiate professor of Hinman, and in the fall of that year he presided over the banquet and dedication ceremony for the newly built Hinman College residential complex. He played a major role in many of the foundation-laying moments of Hinman College, such as the establishment of HCC, HLT and Hinman Follies, and he was the leader in bringing self-regulation and apartment-style living (co-ed floors) to Hinman.
Educated at UC Berkley following his service with the U.S. Army in World War II, Sinisi taught philosophy at Binghamton from 1966 until his retirement in 2004. He served during a time of tumultuous upheaval in the SUNY system. In the mid-1970s, a severe budget crisis faced the state of New York, and the then-SUNY Binghamton administration, in an effort to save money, attempted to dismantle collegiate structure at Binghamton. Sinisi served as the chair of a committee devoted to preserving that innovative structure. Though collegiate structure was ultimately changed from what it was in the late 1960s and early 1970s, without Sinisi’s tireless efforts it would have been much worse. His intense efforts on behalf of the students earned him the nickname “Don Vito,” and a small parcel of land behind Hinman College, now largely paved over, was once known as “Sinisi Park.” Sinisi also saw the establishment of many Hinman traditions such as the ever-popular co-rec football (created by Bob Giomi), the Hinman Semi-Formal and Dorm Wars. He also served as an advisor to many HCC e-boards and occasionally acted in HLT plays, much to the delight of the student body.
Educated at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Al Haber worked for some years at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory at Oak Ridge, Tenn. There he quickly distinguished himself as a scientist for his research on the effects of radiation on plants. In 1973, he moved with his family to Binghamton and began teaching in the Biology Department. His love of mentoring and interacting with students led him to the collegiate professor position of Hinman College. Haber was an enthusiastic supporter of such student events as Dorm Wars, Hysteria and HPC productions, and he relished his time interacting with Hinman students, especially Hinman leaders. He is perhaps best known for his wit, his wry sense of humor and his love of all things Woody Allen. His concern for the well-being of the students of Hinman led to his nickname “Uncle Al,” for which he is remembered by those who knew and worked with him.
Educated at Syracuse University, Sterling taught calculus at Binghamton from 1966 until his retirement in 1998. To date he has been the longest-serving collegiate professor in Hinman and the only one to serve two non-consecutive terms. His first experience in Hinman occurred in 1969 when a student protest effectively shut down campus for three days. Sterling remembers speaking with some students from Hinman during this time about a wide variety of issues and was struck by their maturity and intelligence. This incident was the basis for his eventually seeking the collegiate professor position. As collegiate professor, Sterling successfully countered administration concerns as Lisa D’Amato (the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato) prepared to break the record for the world’s longest shower, which she did in her suite bathroom in Smith Hall. He was also collegiate professor during the celebration of Hinman College's 25th anniversary, which was held in 1992 and featured the first student-coordinated fireworks show on campus. He is perhaps best known for the lunches he had almost every noon with students in the Hinman Dining Hall — lunches that became famous for the large number of people who attended and for their duration (many lunches ran well into the afternoon). That tradition of student-faculty lunches continues to this day.