Former professor commemorated
Former professor Dr. Rawle Farley, best known for founding the economic department on campus, left a permanent mark on the college in his years as an educator and world-renowned economist.
Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Updated: Thursday, March 3, 2011 15:03
Dr. Rawle Farley left a lasting footprint on Brockport students and the community, not only as a retired professor, world-renowned economist and chess master, but also as a generous and humble man.Rawle passed away Nov. 6 at Rochester General Hospital at 88 years old. He founded and chaired the economics department in 1966 and was named Professor emeritus after his retirement in 1995.
As an educator, Rawle was invested in student's work and lives, and challenged them to succeed. He saw the best in his students and gave them an opportunity to excel in his classroom.
"The life of the mind is worthy and something he believed in," Christopher Farley, Rawle's son, said. "He didn't talk a whole lot about wealth or materials. He loved knowledge for its own sake."
As founder of the economics department, Rawle transformed the quality of learning at The College at Brockport into what it is today.
"He had made clear, that in his eye, Brockport was a first-rate institution," said Dr. Charles Callahan III, a current Brockport economics professor. "He believed in the British tradition - that you stay at a university and build up a department until it's first rate - and we're better for it."
Rawle had interviewed Callahan for the position in 1985.
"He's the reason I came [to Brockport], and why I stayed," Callahan said. "He presented a community to me when I walked into his office. He let me know we were not only here to instruct, but have a life."
Callahan said Rawle was not only a colleague but quickly became a mentor and friend.
"He was a great conversationalist," Callahan said. "I didn't realize I was learning from such a renowned person. This place had a precious diamond in its midst."
Paul Albanese, an associate professor of marketing at Kent State University, was a student of Rawle from 1970-72. After taking economic courses on population economics and economic development in Third World countries with Rawle, Albanese said he felt prepared and inspired to go to Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D.
"It's something I wouldn't have thought of coming from a rural area," said Albanese, who went to Genesee Community College prior to Brockport. "He was very instructive and challenging - it opened up my horizons."
Albanese said he kept in touch with Rawle every time there was a milestone in his academic career.
"He talked to us as equals," Albanese said. "He didn't just cover the material, but life in general."
Callahan said, in addition to Rawle's depth of knowledge and intellectual prowess, he was a humble man. Callahan was in Rawle's office when he opened his desk drawer and showed him piles of letters and applications asking for him to apply for awards and recognitions.
"He shut the drawer and said to me, 'You don't go around patting yourself on the back,'" Callahan said.
Rawle was born in Berbice, Guyana in South America where he taught elementary school before leaving the country to study at the University of London. To pay for his schooling while abroad, he sold trophies he had won as a champion hurdler.
"That's a big jump from the Caribbean to England in the '40s," his son Christopher said. "But he believed that you have to look beyond horizons to realize your full self."
While in England, Rawle had a difficult time finding a place to live because no landlord was willing to rent to a Caribbean scholar. He was forced to sleep in a hallway between the rooms of two white friends, Christopher said.
"Even in a midst of struggle, it didn't stop him," Christopher said.
After earning a teacher's diploma and Ph.D from the University of London, Rawle taught at the University of West Indies for more than a decade. During this time, he visited, lectured, published and participated in academic initiatives across the Caribbean.
Rawle is survived by his wife, Ena, who was chairwoman of the African American studies department at Brockport, and their sons Anthony, Felipe, Christopher and Jonathan.
He is predeceased by his son Jeremy, from a previous marriage. Ena was also on the State Board of Regents until 2002.
Callahan said in interactioning with Rawle, he discovered the professor's love for his family.
"No matter what we talked about, the subject would get back to the other Dr. Farley or his successful sons," Callahan said. "They had a loving relationship."
Rawle and Ena's four sons all took classes at The College at Brockport - they also all earned degrees from Harvard.
One of the most important lessons his father taught him, Christopher said, was to have a global view. Rawle and Ena would travel to Egypt, Lybia and England, among other countries.
"I inherited that love to travel," Christopher said.
When Christopher was a kid, international students at Brockport would come to visit over breaks. Rawle would invite students from Russia or China, who had nowhere else to go, to his home in Brockport.
"They always had great stories," Christopher said. "They gave me perspectives from other worlds."
Beside teaching, Rawle's greatest passion was for the challenging game of chess. He played in tournaments across the country and was part of the Community Chess Club of Rochester.
Rawle also wrote seminal works including Planning for Development in Libya: The Exceptional Economy in the Developing World and The Economics of Latin America: Development Problems in Perspective.
Rawle won numerous grants and prizes throughout his life, including an ILO Fellowship to Oxford and a Ford Foundation Grant.
He was also a former president of both the New York State Economics Association and the State University of New York Faculty Association for African Studies.