Peter Siedlecki

Professor Emeritus of English Poet-in-Residence

A published poet, Dr. Peter Siedlecki has been immersed in Daemen College for more than 50 years as a teacher, mentor, supporter, and leader. His distinguished career has included service as chair and dean of arts and sciences, director of the Honors Program, and Faculty Senate president, as well as participation on a number of college committees. A strong supporter of Daemen who continues to teach as an adjunct professor, he established the Dr. Peter A. Siedlecki Endowed Scholarship Fund for Honors Program Students. The Honors Lounge and English Department’s Creative Writing Award are also both named in his honor.

You’ve been with Daemen for more than 50 years. What led you to teaching at the college?

I ran into one of my college professors who asked me about my career. When I told him I was a high-school teacher, he said I should be teaching on the college level and that he would look into an opportunity for me. A few days later, I received a call from Sister Marita Lannan, O.S.F., who was at that time academic dean at Rosary Hill College. She offered me a job teaching world literature, and I’ve been at Rosary Hill/Daemen ever since.

As former director of the Honors Program, why was this one of your best educational experiences?

It was so gratifying to work with the best and the brightest of Daemen’s students. The best students are the ones who will reflect most favorably on Daemen, and it was a pleasure to advocate for them.

Tell us about your experience as a senior Fulbright professor in Poland and the former East Germany.

There is no way I could put that into a short answer. It was the time of Solidarity and of martial law. I experienced excitement, discovery, intrigue, danger, and so many other things in my Fulbright tenures in Poland and the former East Germany.

What advice do you have for your students?

I would advise them to open themselves up to the joys of knowing and understanding the beautiful interrelationships that exist among all the things that they encounter both in and out of the classroom.

Who has influenced you most in your career?

There have been so many who have influenced me, particularly my father, whose education ended in grade school when he went to work to help support his family during the Great Depression, but who maintained a great respect for education. A couple of college professors—Leo Maloney and Edward Burke—delivered me to literature. Robert Creeley and Raymond Federman were also mentors and friends.