Ken Hyde

Ken Hyde was a 12-year-old boy exploring his small hometown of McKees Rock, Pa., when he received his first chemistry set from his grandma. He enjoyed mixing the chemicals and observing the changes that happened.

“My interest in chemistry just got bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Hyde, who earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry at the University of Maryland.

He retired in 2011 after teaching 43 years in the SUNY Oswego chemistry department and educating thousands of students. He initiated computers into the chemistry curriculum by incorporating the new technology into the entry-level and upper-level courses.

His Oswego career began one semester before the opening of Snygg Hall in September 1968.

“That was pretty neat,” he said. “I was a young guy, moving into this new building, and there was new equipment, lots of space and an excitement about it all.”

During his career, a master’s degree in chemistry was established and the field of biochemistry emerged as an important part of the chemistry program.

“Graduate students bring spontaneity and enthusiasm to their work, which rubs off on the undergraduates,” Hyde said, a Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus. “But they also invigorate the faculty and keep them active in research, too.”

During his final years at Oswego, he served as the assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the dean’s liaison to the Science Planning Committee for what would become the Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation. The building is named for the Chemistry Department founder and one of the faculty members who recruited Hyde to Oswego.

So as a bookend to his Oswego beginning, he retired after breaking ground on the new science building.

“It’s an impressive building,” he said of the Shineman Center. “It took a lot of planning over the course of several years, but I think they’ve done a really good job with it.”

Today, his experience in planning new spaces is being used to refurbish and maintain a camp on Skaneateles Lake near Niles, N.Y. It is now a lake house for family and friends to gather. He also volunteers as a counselor in the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program for low to moderate income people of all ages.

He returns to campus periodically to catch the annual Augustine Silveira endowed chemistry lecture or to stay up-to-date on other departmental and college activities.

“What’s been very interesting to me lately are the developments in biochemistry, microbiology, DNA and CRISPR genome editing,” he said. “I’ve done a little reading on it and am fascinated by it. That’s an area where advances will come—where biology and chemistry blend together.”

—Margaret Spillett

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