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Dr. Robert L. Hassenger

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Hassenger, Dr. Robert L. ALBANY Robert L. "Bob" Hassenger, Ph.D., died Friday, November 30, 2012 in Albany. He was a longtime resident of Saratoga Springs. A pioneer in the creation of distance learning, he helped shape SUNY/ Empire State College, where he remained an active professor emeritus until his death. Born March 2, 1937 in Sioux City, Iowa, Dr. Hassenger was the son of the late Leo M. and Louise (Gross) Hassenger. After graduating from Bishop Heelan High School in Sioux City, he received a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame (1959), where we was a member of the varsity track and field team. He went on to earn a Ph.D. from the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago (1965). Dr. Hassenger returned to Notre Dame as an assistant professor of sociology in 1965, and published "The Shape of Catholic Higher Education" (University of Chicago Press, 1967). In 1968, he became director of Notre Dame's office for education research. After a year as visiting associate professor at Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University, Dr. Hassenger joined the fledgling SUNY/Empire State College as an associate professor in the Genesee Valley Center in 1972; two years later, he served as the founding associate dean of the Niagara Frontier Center in Buffalo, where he became acting dean and then dean in 1976. The following year, Dr. Hassenger moved to Saratoga Springs as special assistant to the academic vice president, and was one of the founding faculty of the Center for Distance Learning in 1979. He spent the rest of his career there, as professor since 1982, and serving in a number of academic administrative positions, including coordinator of social sciences. He held joint appointments in the graduate program and international program. In 2004, he retired from the full-time faculty, but continued to offer online courses. Throughout his academic career, Dr. Hassenger wrote more than 130 book chapters, academic journal articles, book reviews, course guides for distance learning, and articles in more popular venues, including "The New Republic," "Saturday Review," and "Commonweal." He also served as editor of the scholarly journals "Sociological Analysis and Sociology of Education." Dr. Hassenger was invited to serve on the Academic Commission of the American Council on Education, and appeared on numerous panels and national television as an expert on church-related higher education. While a resident of Saratoga Springs, he was elected to two terms on the Southern Adirondack Library System Board of Trustees. He was a member of the National Association of Scholars, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the NAACP. With his commitment to all aspects of education, Dr. Hassenger became involved in Saratoga Springs youth athletics in the 1980s, serving as Pop Warner football commissioner and president, and as a basketball coach for more than 20 years for the Saratoga Recreation Commission and YMCA. He also returned to track and field, competing in local meets, the Empire State Games, the Eastern Masters Championships, and the National Masters Championships. He was nationally ranked in the 200-meter dash. Dr. Hassenger was an unwavering supporter of Notre Dame's sports teams, cheering the Fighting Irish's undefeated 2012 football season, and a world-traveler, with a special affinity for Venice, Rome and Athens, as well as a movie buff of the highest order, a Winston Churchill admirer, an insatiable reader of non-fiction and a fierce follower of the news of the day. Dr. Hassenger is survived by his friend, Pamela Sawchuk Brown, of Albany; his former wife, Linda A. Cuminale, of Saratoga Springs; his brother, Richard Hassenger of San Diego; his children, Raissa and R. Courtney (Camie) Hassenger, both of Portland, Ore., Robert K. Hassenger, of Seattle, Jesse J. (Marisa) Hassenger, of Brooklyn, Andrew L. Hassenger, of Saratoga Springs and Megan E. Hassenger, of Saratoga Springs and his granddaughter, Clarice Hassenger, of Portland. Dr. Hassenger has made an anatomical donation to the Albany Medical College. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 8, at 3 p.m. at the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church, 24 Circular St., Saratoga Springs. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to SUNY/Empire State College Foundation, 1 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 or the University of Notre Dame, 1100 Grace Hall, South Bend, IN 46556, attn: Stacy Koebel.
Published in Albany Times Union from Dec. 4 to Dec. 5, 2012
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