2013 Gift of Wisdom Award Winner

Congratulations to Katherine B. “Kitty” Hoffman, recipient of The Women for Florida State University’s 2013 Gift of Wisdom Mentor Award.

Hoffman’s relationship with Florida State University dates back to 1932 when she was a freshman at Florida State College for Women (FSCW), bartering a year’s worth of room and board for a truckload of oranges from her father’s grove. During her four years as a straight-A student, Hoffman was president of the Student Government Association and wrote for the student newspaper. She also represented the state as a princess in Asheville, N.C., at the renowned Rhododendron Festival.

After graduating from FSCW, Hoffman earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Columbia University and was accepted into medical school at Duke University. Unfortunately, Duke required its female medical students to stay single, so Hoffman decided to take a different path. She married her high school sweetheart and fellow chemist, Harold Hoffman, and in 1940 joined the chemistry faculty at FSCW.

Hoffman served on the faculty throughout the World War II era; through FSCW’s transition to a co-educational institution; through the tumultuous years of the 1960s and 1970s, during which she served as the University’s dean of women from 1967 to 1970; and into the early 1980s, when she served as president of the Faculty Senate from 1980 to 1982.

And in what is perhaps her most enduring legacy, she taught thousands of students and received numerous teaching awards. To mark that legacy, in 1984, the year she retired, the chemistry department dedicated the Katherine B. Hoffman Teaching Laboratory in her honor. Hoffman in return has given greatly to the University. Examples include her recent establishment of the Katherine B. Hoffman Endowed Lecture in Environmental Chemistry, the establishment of the Katherine Blood Hoffman Endowed Fund in Chemistry for student support, and dozens of other gifts to the College of Arts and Sciences that include symposia for liberal arts and an endowed chair in psychology.

In her 98 years, Hoffman has embraced her relationship with Florida State—as a student, a faculty member and a dean. In 2007, former Florida State President T.K. Wetherell presented Hoffman an honorary doctorate and then cited her “countless contributions to the creation and preservation of our University’s great heritage.”

Sherrill Williams Ragans, who nominated Hoffman for the Gift of Wisdom Mentor Award and introduced her at the 2013 Backstage Pass dinner, said Hoffman has given generously of her time, talent and treasure.

“Kitty does not talk about exemplary citizenship in the University community or the larger community. For all of these years, she has demonstrated citizenship worthy of emulation by all who have observed her,” Ragans wrote in her nomination letter.

Ragans cited testaments of others who said Hoffman was a great role model and mentor for women.

“She inspires all who come into her presence to behave better, straighten their shoulders and stand taller – in short, to be their very best,” Florida State professor of sociology Patricia Yancy Martin said.

A photo of Kitty Hoffman and another woman, both wearing gold blouses and garnet outerwear
Kitty Hoffman