Farber boys (and girls) honor mentor Tom Brokaw reacts as W.O. "Doc" Farber suggests during his brief speech Saturday that he run for political office now that he is retired from his job as anchor of the NBC Nightly News. "The only thing I'm running for is for cover," Brokaw replied. by David Lias Dozens of former students of William O. �Doc� Farber flocked to Sioux Falls Saturday to help the legendary University of South Dakota professor celebrate his 95th birthday.
Most notable in the crowd that gathered for a reception and dinner at the Sheraton Hotel and Sioux Falls Convention Center was the night�s featured speaker � Tom Brokaw, a former student of Farber�s, a 1964 graduate of USD and retired anchor of the NBC Nightly News.
Master of ceremonies for the event was Pat O�Brien, who also studied under Farber before graduating from USD in 1970. He currently is host of the television program The Insider.
�The man that we honor here tonight, our mentor and friend, W.O. ?Bill� Farber, reminds us that we must define and remember our political legacy,� Brokaw said. �We must seize the moment and restore a common welfare to the great gain of national politics.
�We celebrate this remarkable life of this great man by committing to extend his legacy in the political arena,� he said. �Bill showed us the way. Now we are honor bound to continue his journey.�
�Doc Farber spent over 40 years teaching at USD, but his contributions to generations of young South Dakotans didn�t end with his ?official� retirement in 1976,� said William Richardson, chairman of the Department of Political Science and director of the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership.
�He has continued to mentor students and, through the Farber Fund, to help them acquire real world experiences at home and abroad,� Richardson said, �that significantly augment what they learn in the classroom.�
�I never dreamed that when I came here in the
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summer of 1935 that I�d still be in South Dakota,� Farber said.
He admitted that it was a bit embarrassing to listen to the praise he received from dozens of people in attendance who stated Farber changes their lives for the better.
�What great achievements we have all made � we have come so far,� Farber said.
The retired professor, like always, offered a challenge to his former students.
�The world is in a tough spot now,� Farber said. �There is so much that we need to do in order to step forward.
�The important thing is this: to be able, at any moment, to sacrifice who we are for what we can become,� he said.
Farber was born on July 4, 1910, in Geneseo, IL. He received his B.A. and M.A. from Northwestern University, graduating with honors and membership in Phi Beta Kappa.�He came to�The University of South Dakota in 1935 with a Wisconsin�Ph.D. and an appointment as assistant professor in an institution suffering the trials of a depression-ridden state.� The challenge of a chairmanship lured him to North Dakota State in 1937, but one year later he returned to USD as chairman of the Department of Government, a position he held until 1976, with interruptions for war service and for leave-of-absence teaching at Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Seoul National University in Korea.�
In the 38 years of his leadership, the department staff expanded from three to 12, enrollments soared despite the fact that high grades in political science never have been easy to come by, and exceptionally gifted students were attracted to the study of political science including four Rhodes Scholarship winners and many recipients of distinguished awards at leading American universities for graduate study.
Strongly committed to research as a means of pursuing truth, Farber was most�attracted to the kinds of research which could be used in tackling the practical problems facing the small towns of South Dakota, and beyond if the opportunity existed.� This preference lay behind his initiative in the creation of the university�s Government Research Bureau and was especially exemplified in a distinguished personal performance as the first director of the Legislative Research Council, and for 10 years, chairman of Vermillion�s City Planning Commission.�
He was also a leading member of South Dakota�s Constitutional Revision Commission and Local Government Study Commission, and has been on the State Educational and Cultural Affairs Planning Commission since 1976.