2003 Inductees

Denise Amses
Class of 1975
Hall of Fame 2003

Aside from the international exhibitions and awards; aside from the long list of features in national publications and an even longer list of commissioned artwork; and aside from the numerous architects and firms with which she has worked; Denise Amses has one other thing on the top of her resume: her high school, Rumson-Fair Haven, class of 1975.

A celebrated sculptor, Denise Amses was 9 when she made the choice between dancing lessons or art lessons: she chose visual art, studied with local artists, and even learned to paint landscapes walking the Navesink and Locust sections of Middletown Township, with her paints, in all kinds of weather. That has been her focus since. Denise Amses was formally trained at the Philadelphia College of Art, the Academia de Belle Arte, Temple University, and Tyler School.

As a young artist, Denise visited Italy to study sculpture, and noticed the multitude of public artworks – places that were planned within public spaces and inhabited by art pieces. She noticed that beauty was being made available in a democratic way. This realization and her years of art training, set the stage for her future work.  There were other factors, as well. A job assisting an artist who made work for religious buildings introduced her to the potential of large-scale glasswork, and brought her a mentor who demonstrated a life lived through art.

The decision to work in glass was made  because it is a building material that is in the vocabulary of both art and architecture.  Architects address glass as a practical building material, which brings light to the constructed space, and for Denise that was a pragmatic way to incorporate art in public spaces.

Notably, Denise Amses and her occasional collaborator, Christopher Cosma, completed a piece in 2000, commissioned for the Rockefeller Center in New York City. Rhythms of Infinity, a 10x32x5-foot sculpture ties the past to the future through an illuminated wall of etched glass, crystal, steel and stone. Her inspiration for most works takes its cues from the natural world, and her ideas are translated into materials that are part of our everyday lives.

Though recognized for her large scale art pieces in glass and other architecturally and publicly minded works, she continues to make prints, to paint, and to sculpt with stone and bronze. She admits that work on this scale and with these substances may feel permanent; but she recognizes that buildings and public space change over time. Denise Amses makes work that is accessible and which has the ability to cause what she calls “aesthetic arrest”, work which gives its audience pause wherever they may be.

William Finnegan
Class of 1936
Hall of Fame 2003

Bill Finnegan attended Lafayette Street Public School and was in the first class to complete 12th grade there. He learned to read and write music in Miss Elizabeth Connolly’s class. She also provided free lessons and instilled confidence in her student’s abilities and independence to “be yourself.” He never forgot her generosity.  He was also taught lessons in harmony and counterpoint from Mr. Rudolph Winthrop, the school band leader. 

Many students benefited from the high level of instruction provided by these two excellent teachers. There were talented musicians in the school which enabled Bill to put together his own student band.  Bill spent his study periods writing arrangements for his band.  While in high school, Bill wrote a letter to Major Bowes, a well-known radio host from Rumson,  telling him about his band. Major Bowes gave the band a radio audition. 

After graduation, Major Bowes sent the band “on the road” for a year-long tour across the United States.  After touring, Bill submitted an arrangement of “The Lonesome Road” to Tommy Dorsey, who liked it; however, he had four arrangers already working for him. Mr. Dorsey recommended Bill to Glenn Miller.  By the time he was age 21, Bill Finnegan was arranging music for The Glenn Miller Band which went on to  record 70 Top Ten Hits. Bill also went on to work for the Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey bands until he joined the Army.

One day, as Bill and the newly inducted Special Services soldiers were waiting for an assignment, a call went out for anyone who had a band. Bill volunteered and said that he had a band…he didn’t have one at that moment, but he put together a seventeen piece Big Band complete with actors and singers within an hour.  The band was transportated to Birmingham Air Base in Alabama where they played a four hour show that night!  The band performed in military hospitals all over the country.

When the war was over, Bill traveled to Paris to start his studies at the Paris Conservatory of Music. While in Paris he made plans via mail to form a band with Eddie Sauter.  The Sauter-Finnegan Orchestra was a group of serious musicians who made more than a half dozen albums at RCA Victor during 1952-1955. The arrangers took advantage of emerging technology  to design a sound system with microphones set up around the band that could be manipulated from a control panel to adjust the sound from each mike.  Their musical genius required above-average musicians to perform with them, and many of their band members, such as Doc Severinson, went on to a distinguished career in jazz.  According to Bill, “every night was a party with that band, but they all shaped-up on the bandstand. Our discipline came from the music itself.”  After the Sauter-Finnegan Orchestra days, Bill free-lanced as an arranger and his work for jazz singer Carol Sloan earned a Grammy nomination in the 1960′s for “Best Vocal Chart of the Year”.

Bill Finnegan’s career ventured to the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he helped run the “B Band” and eventually was hired to run the Jazz Department, a job he held for many years in which he put together some very successful college jazz bands. During his years in music, he taught other musicians, in particular, Nelson Riddle, a Rumson student who was several years behind him at the high school. Nelson sought lessons in jazz on his trombone. Bill got him started writing music.  When Nelson graduated from Rumson High School, Bill recommended him to Charlie Spivak who gave him a start in show business. In a way, he continues to teach music, because most aspiring jazz musicians start their training by practicing Bill Finnegan’s “Little Brown Jug.”  Now in his eighties, Bill Finnegan still does free-lance arranging, mostly for friends. Asked what message he would like to share with the students at his alma mater, Bill said, “You can do anything if you have enough desire. I worked hard, but I enjoyed every minute. It didn’t seem like work. All of a sudden I was getting paid for what I loved to do. Be yourself; if you want to do something, just do it!”


Daniel L. Goroff
Class of 1974

Hall of Fame 2003

At Harvard and in the White House, for the National Research Council and for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Dr. Daniel L. Goroff has worked on mathematics and public policy with the goal of strengthening education for all.

Dr. Goroff currently serves as Professor of the Practice of Mathematics at Harvard University.  He is a Tutor at Leverett House there, and also Associate Director of Harvard’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, an organization that provides research, development, and pedagogical support specifically to improve college instruction.

Daniel Goroff graduated from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School in 1974 as Class Valedictorian, Borden Scholar, and Student Government Vice President.  He ran track in high school without ever coming close to winning a race, edited photography for the Triskelion Literary Magazine, and played saxophone with the music program in school and with rock bands outside.

While an undergraduate at Harvard College, Daniel Goroff was selected by Dr. Carl Sagan in 1976 to work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena as an intern to Dr. Jerry Soffen, the Chief Scientist of NASA’s Viking Mission to Mars.  He earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in mathematics summa *** laude from Harvard, an M.Phil.graduate degree in economics at Cambridge University in England as a Churchill Scholar, and a Ph.D. in mathematics at Princeton as a Danforth Fellow.

Since joining the Harvard faculty in 1983, Dr. Goroff has taught a variety of courses for the mathematics, physics, economics and history of  science departments.  He won a Phi Beta Kappa teaching award in 1988.  His field, dynamical systems theory, has been called “the mathematics of time.”  He is especially interested in qualitative questions about the evolution of systems that optimize some quantity, whether that means maximizing return to investment in the context of decision theory or satisfying the “principle of least action” in the context of mechanics.  Daniel Goroff edited and  introduced an English revision of New Methods of Celestial Mechanics, Henri Poincaré’s three-volume study of planetary motion that documents his discovery of “chaos theory” over one hundred years ago.

Dr. Goroff’s public service includes acting during 1996-97 as a Division Director at the National Research Council (NRC).  This arm of  the National Academy of Science operates under Congressional Charter to provide science, technology, and health advice to the federal government.  He joined the Administration in 1997-98 as a member of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  Working with Presidential Science Advisor Dr. John H. (Jack) Gibbons, he drafted speeches and documents for the President, Vice-President, and other officials, and helped launch initiatives, formulate budgets, analyze policies, and conduct interagency coordination.

Between 1998 and 2001, he served a term as Director of the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM), an umbrella organization of professional society leaders.  In this  role,  Dr. Goroff was called both by the House and by the Senate of the 106th Congress to testify about educational and research priorities.  To illustrate his point about how investment in basic science can pay off in fantastic and unexpected ways, his Congressional testimony describes how the “knot theory” mathematicians began developing out of mere curiosity over one hundred years ago now has many critical applications in the study of DNA.

As current chair of the U.S. National Commission for Mathematics Instruction at the National Research Council (NRC), Dr. Goroff has been appointed the U.S. National Representative to the International Commission on Mathematics Instruction (ICMI).  He also co-directs the Science and Engineering Workforce Project (SEWP) of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) together with Harvard labor economist Richard Freeman.  Of everything and everyone he has been involved with, Daniel Goroff is most proud of his two children, Yonina and Raviv, whose Hebrew names mean “little dove” and “spring rain or dew.”

 Claudia Tate
Class of  1965
Hall of Fame 2003

 Dr. Claudia Tate, the distinguished non-fiction author and Professor of English at Princeton University, was best known for her innovative work in the field of African-American literary criticism and psychoanalysis. 

  “She was an extraordinarily important figure in the history of pushing African-American (literary) criticism to a new and more sophisticated stage,” said Hazel Carby, professor of African-American studies and American studies at Yale University.

 ”[Tate] was an original thinker who was not bound by the commonplaces of what’s African-American and what’s not,” said Nell Painter, the Edwards Professor of American History and professor of African-American studies at Princeton.  “She examined the work of black writers like Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston and their novels on non-black characters, which was important because she was able to get to some of the issues the writers wanted to talk about that were not merely racial issues, but human issues and family issues.”

 Tate was the author of three books - Black Women Writers at Work (1983), Domestic Allegories of Political Desire: The Black Heroine’s Text at the Turn of the Century (1991), and Psychoanalysis and Black Novels: Desire and the Protocols of Race (1998) - as well as more than 50 scholarly articles, book chapters, and reviews.  Tate was also credited with bringing Katherine Tillman, a then relatively obscure African-American writer, to a larger audience, when Tate edited The Works of Katherine Tillman in 1988.  This volume was produced in conjunction with renowned literary scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., for the Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers. Tate also edited a book entitled Selected Works of Georgia Douglas Johnson.

  Tate’s impact on academia was perhaps most keenly noted in December, 2001, when Princeton University’s African-American studies program held a one-day symposium devoted to her work, entitled “Black Intellectuals and the Academy: The Work of Claudia Tate.”  Scholars Mary Helen Washington, Maurice Wallace, Barbara Johnson, Ann duCille, Valerie Smith, Painter, and Carby lectured on the broad intellectual debates on which Tate had built her career. 

 While scholars across the world are aware of the body of work produced by one of Fair Haven’s most famous citizens, Tate’s students on the campuses of Princeton, George Washington, and Howard Universities also loved her because of her willingness to work tirelessly on their behalf, to enable them to refine their skills in order to produce outstanding scholarship.  “Her help was absolutely invaluable for me and others,” said Carby. “When it came to helping colleagues or students, ‘no’ was not a word she had in her vocabulary.”

It is fitting that Tate, a member of the third class inducted into Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School’s Hall of Fame, won a “Future Teachers Award” upon graduating from RFH in 1965.  For over thirty years, from the University of Michigan to Harvard University and beyond, Tate’s scholarly work and outstanding teaching were a living tribute to the ideals embedded in that award.