First Dean of Arts and Science Passed Away in January

The Universityís first dean of arts and sciences, Josiah Thompson Phinney, died on Monday, Jan. 15, at his Delmar home, three weeks before his 95th birthday.

Born in Boston in 1901, Phinney received a bachelorís degree in economics from Yale University and a Ph.D. in economics and masterís in education from Harvard University. He taught at Harvard for three years and then at Lafayette College for 12 years before joining the Albany faculty as professor of economics in Fall 1946.

During the 1950s, Phinney chaired the New York State College for Teachers social studies department, and then, when the college became a university, was appointed the first dean of the new College of Arts and Sciences. He retired as dean in 1966 and from the University in 1969.

His wife of 60 years, Esther, preceded him in death by just over a year. Professor Emeritus of History Kendall Birr, who joined the Albany faculty in 1952, remembered the standards set by Phinney at that time. "The choice of Joe Phinney as social studies chair was a good one," said Birr. "While he was an economist, he was particularly interested in history and geography, and his Harvard Ed.M. made him sensitive to the distinctive problems of training teachers.

"As the only person trained in economics at the College in the 1950s, Joe taught a whole range of courses ó principles, public finance, labor, consumer economics, etcetera. He aimed for clear and precise explanations of economic theory, and he demanded that his students display the same clarity and precision. But his classes were also filled with appropriate application to contemporary economic issues and were leavened with his dry humor."

Phinney is survived by two daughters and several grandchildren.

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