dontics, I was quite certain I knew what it took to succeed as a dental professional and so I approached my clinical mentor- ing of students with an authoritative and self-assured demeanor consistent with my perceptions.
Recognizing how I was going about my interactions with students, Bill took me aside one day as he made his visits into the clinics. In what was a most kind and gentle manner, I remember to this day how he suggested that mentoring was much more than critical reviews of students and personal demonstrations of superior knowledge and abilities. Rather, he said, it was engaging, motivating and relishing the joys of individual student growth and success, no matter how great or how little.
a cockeyed optimist
robert J. Genco, ’63 sunY Distinguished Professor; vice provost and director of the office of science, technology transfer and Economic outreach
From the beginning, back in the early 1970s, Bill always had a strong vision that he carried forward to balance the school’s clinical and research endeavors. This entrepreneurial spirit of his was the mark of a true optimist, and he was an opportunist in the best sense of the word. For example, Bill was very aggressive at times in seeking out opportunity for the students and faculty. I remember clearly when there was an opportunity for salary increases for faculty in the state system, which doesn’t happen often. He worked day and night to ensure that his faculty received those increases.
Another time, I went to Bill, feeling down and defeated because a very valu- able faculty member in my department was close to leaving our school for an attractive offer elsewhere. Bill immedi- ately said, “Tell me about this. Let’s see if we can work out a solution to keep this person.” And we did. He took these prob- lems as challenges, always with a can-do attitude.
it’s all about family
Gerard “whiz” wieczkowski, ’69 associate professor, restorative dentistry
Next to my dad, Bill Feagans was the man I admired most. He was caring, giving, always thoughtful of others, and was the soul of our school.
Dr. Feagans was very proud of his family, but he also took pride in the dental school’s families; he followed with interest each of our three children through college, graduate school and into their professions. He always asked how our son Jeff, an attorney, was doing. While Neil, our other son, was getting his master’s in English at UB, he worked in the dental school several evenings a week, manning the front door. Dr. Feagans, on his way out in the evening, would always stop by and chat. And not just a cursory “Hi,” but he would really take time to talk. I imagine Dr. Feagans was often late for dinner because of those conversations. Our daughter, Julie, spent three years in Kenya doing her PhD pri- matology research. When she returned, Dr. Feagans, who was then retired, still remembered her and gave her a signed book on primates. That was Bill Feagans.
Donald F. hanavan instructional support assistant, prosthodontics
Once or twice a day Dr. Feagans would walk through the whole school, greeting
everyone by name as he passed by. My supervisor, Mr. Laurie Zabaldo, and I were no exception. As Dr. Feagans would walk by the lab he’d say, “Hi Laurie, Hanavan,” and we would wave and yell “Dean Feagans!” After a couple weeks of that same greeting, I realized that the dean might have forgotten my first name. So I thought of a great way to remind him without embarrassing him (after all, he was the dean). The next time I saw him, I said, “Guess what, Dr. Fea- gans? I looked through the school phone book, and I’m the only Don in the whole school!” He looked at me with a smile, patted me on the back and said, “Good for you, Hana- van!” then turned and walked away. sEttinG thE FinaL stonE, sQuirE haLL DEDiCation, 1986.
Despite the fact that after 37 years and countless conversations, Dean Feagans never once called me Don, it wasn’t because he didn’t take a personal interest in me, or in every single person he met. That was just one of his many gifts—a trickle-down respect he gave to everyone, which in turn inspired us all to be our best.
FEaGans watChEs anGELo DELBaLso, ’72, anD tEChniCian LinDa rEaD DEMonstratE thE ZonarC raDioGraPhiC MaChinE.