Dr. Varghese D. Pynadath:
Professor, Colleague, Friend, Mentor 1967-2013
In 1961, Dr. Pynadath left India, his birth place, to further his studies in the United States. He attended Fordham University where he earned a M.S. and went on to the University of Sarasota to obtain his Ph.D. In 1967, he landed his first full-time job as an Instructor at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. Dr. Pynadath remained at FM for the following 46 years at the rank of Professor.
Throughout his many years at the College, Dr. Pynadath has served in various leadership positions. For almost ten years, he was the International Student Advisor; for almost ten years he chaired the Academic Standards Committee; from 1985-1996, he served as the College’s Dean of Arts & Sciences where he took initiatives to assist in the establishment of a number of programs at FM including the Early Childhood A.A.S. and Certificate Program, Human Services A.A.S. and Certificate Program, Health, Physical Education, and Recreation A.S., Mathematics A.S., Science A.S., and helped to develop the College’s Television Studio and a number of courses in communications which lead to the current Media Communications Program now in place; in 1989 he chaired the Steering Committee for the College’s 25th Anniversary Celebration; and he co-chaired the Middle States Steering Committee which was a three year project.
In 1979, Dr. Pynadath was given the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Wayne D. Kenyon, P.E., FM Class of ’74, Union College Class of ’76 and now a retired Senior Civil Engineer with the NYS Department of Transportation can certainly attest why. “Dr. Pynadath was a very knowledgeable man, and an excellent professor,” stated Wayne. “He prepared his students well for transfer to a four-year college. Although he took great interest in seeing his students learn, he was firm to the point where they have to understand the principles and concepts of physics and engineering to receive a respectable grade in his classes. Dr. Pynadath earned the respect of his students, and was a great asset to the College. FM can be proud to claim him as part of their education staff.”
John E. Jablonski, FM Class of ’81 and former Vice President and Dean of FM had this to say about Dr. Pynadath, “Varghese was one of my favorite professors, including those that I had at Union College and at the University of Pennsylvania. In those days, I knew him as “Mr. Pynadath.” He taught a total of five courses that I took while I was a student here: three physics courses and two engineering science courses. They became the foundation on which the rest of my formal education was built.”
“Without exception,” continued John, “Varghese was known for being ‘tough but fair’ in his grading. He expected all of his students to achieve outcomes on par with those at RPI, Union, and Clarkson, the three colleges that were most popular among our engineering science transfer students. The most important thing, though, is that Varghese also realized the important role that he played in helping us to reach the high standards that he set. He constantly encouraged us to study together, to collaborate on the copious homework that he assigned and to see him in his office for extra help. Although he never asked for external validation, it was given to him in the form of he Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.”
John tells us that when he himself became an instructor at FM, he tried to adopt many of the best practices that he first learned from Dr. Pynadath. “I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be as good as he was in the classroom,” he says. “However, I figured that if I tried to be as good as he was, my students would benefit from my efforts, as I did from his. During my first few years on the faculty, I knew him as ‘Dr. Pynadath,’ my dean, my boss, and one of my mentors. After 11 years as Dean of Arts and Sciences, Varghese returned to the classroom, teaching many of the same courses that he taught when I was a student here. I often think how lucky our students were to have him back in the classroom.”
During an interview with Dr. Pynadath in 2006, he stated his goal with his students was to not only see them get good grades, but to see them happy with what they were doing and hear that they were doing well at their transfer institution.
“Working with the students is the most satisfying,” said Dr. Pynadath. “But what’s most rewarding is hearing of their successes.”
Not only were Dr. Pynadath’s students successful, but his own children as well. During the 2006 interview, Dr. Pynadath shared, “I have three children. David is a research scientist for artificial intelligence at the Information Sciences Institute near Los Angelos; Joseph is Director of Business Development Sales for Americas at Hewitt Packard Software in Cupertino, California, and Elizabeth is finishing her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at SUNY Buffalo and will graduate this coming May.”
Dr. Pynadath lived in Johnstown with his wife, Rosy, who he met and married in the summer of 1968 in India. From the 2006 interview, Dr. Pynadath said, “I was home for the summer and had to be back for work by the end of August. Rosy had lots of packing and things to get ready to come over to the United States so we made plans for her to come in December. She still doesn’t let me forget it (he laughed). She left the beautiful warm climate of India to come to New York at the coldest time of year. I still hear that complaint.” Rosy, too, was in education as she was a mathematics teacher at Amsterdam High School at the time of this interview.
Asked if retirement was in the near future, Dr. Pynadath said, “I cannot say for sure. I enjoy what I’m doing and could not commit to a retirement date. As long as I continue to stay healthy and do the best job that I can do, I will remain in my position for as many years as I can.”
Fulton-Montgomery Community College Foundation has established a fund for a future permanent memorial to commemorate Dr. Varghese D. Pynadath’s years of service to this institution. You may contact Lesley Lanzi for further information:
The FM Foundation
2805 State Highway 67
Johnstown, New York 12095
518-736-3622 ext. 8021