The Early Years

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(NOTE: Some details in this history by Dr. Payne vary in slight ways from other published accounts, particularly on dates.)

The Early Years of Mohawk Valley Community College

1946 Through 1967


Albert V. Payne
President Emeritus
Mohawk Valley Community College
November 20, 1983

Recently, the President’s Commission on Excellence in Education published a report of a Two-Year Study of American Education. The findings of the Commission led them to title their report “A Nation at Risk – The Imperative for Reform.” The Carnegie Foundation has also completed a study of American Education. Its report completely supports the findings of the President’s Commission and goes so far as to say that in a great many situations children are not getting as good an education as their parents received.

I therefore decided that the best contribution I could make would be to write the history of Mohawk Valley Community College in terms of the development of its educational programs and deal with such matters as politics and building programs only to the extent that they directly affected the education of students. By so doing, I hope to show how complex an educational institution is, and that many of the recently made proposals for improving education are too simplistic and tend to ignore this degree of complexity.

In 1934, Owen D. Young, the President of the General Electric Company, was elected to the New York State Board of Regents. He soon discovered that this Board, which was responsible for the supervision of all education in the State, was knee-deep in administrative detail and very short on up-to-date and well ordered information. Young, therefore, proposed what became known as “The Regents Inquiry Into the Character and Cost Of Public Education In The State of New York.” It was the final report of this inquiry that led to the establishment of the two-year colleges in New York State. As a result of several thousand interviews with high school seniors; it was found that a great many of them wanted to spend not more than two years in educating themselves beyond high school. The Inquiry also revealed that whereas for many years New York State had benefited from the migration of skilled technicians who had received their training in Europe, the Depression of the early 1930’s had reduced this migration to a point where he economy of the State suffered.

The creation of the two-year colleges was therefore the response of the apparent needs of high school graduates who wanted no more than two years of education beyond high school, and the need of those businesses and industries where positions had to be filled by people who could function on the level between that of the professional and that of the manually skilled worker. The term that is commonly used to describe such people is technician.

To a large extent as a result of the campaigning of Lewis Wilson, who was the State Commissioner of Education for several years, in early 1946 the State Legislature appropriated funds for the establishment of five so-called New York State Institutes of Applied Arts and Sciences. One was to be established in each of the following locations: New York City, White Plains, Binghamton, and Buffalo. The Education Law creating these five institutes mandated the establishment of a program in retailing in Utica. That is why the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Utica School was in the Retailing Business, and why in the minutes of early Board meetings the school was referred to as the Retail Institute. By July of 1946, a seven-man Board had been selected as Trustees of the Utica Institute. The Trustees were Fred W. Roedel, Chairman, Haig K. Bogoshian, Vernon R. Evans, John Gualtieri, G. David Hogue, John C. Watson, and Winthrop Kent.

At the first meeting of the Board, held on July 30, 1946, the New York State Commissioner of Education, Lewis Wilson, and the Associate Commissioner for the Two-Year Institutes, Dr. Lawrence Jarvie, were present and outlined the responsibilities of the Board members. Three weeks later, on August 22, the Trustees met again n order to decide on the selection of a building that could be used for classroom purposes and to screen applications for the position as head of the school. It was fortunate that a building that had been used as a Country Day School was vacant and owned by the Utica Mutual Insurance Company. The Trustees were therefore able to obtain a lease for a suitable building very promptly. The Country Day School was located in New Hartford on land adjoining the Utica Mutual Office Building. It has since been torn down to make room for an apartment building.

The Trustees moved just a rapidly in selecting a Director for the School. On August 28, they met and selected Mr. Paul Richardson, who had been in the employ of the State Education Department. The Trustees appeared to be anxious to be able to make the claim that he Institute in Utica was the first one to open its doors to students. The other four Institutes recruited faculty and spent a good deal of time developing curricula before they accepted students.

The State Education Department had approved an Operating Budget up to March 1, 1947 of $107,684.00 and an Equipment Budget of $75,000.00. It was therefore possible to lease the building, purchase furniture and engage the services of faculty immediately. The Trustees decided to register students in the Retailing Program on September 16, 1946 and to start classes on October 1, 1946*. With such a short time between the appointment of the Director of the Institute and the acceptance of students, it was barely possible to put the building in condition for use and to purchase suitable furniture. In fact, some of the faculty spent the weekend before the students arrived uncrating furniture and putting it in place. The biggest problem in establishing the Institute was the recruitment of competent instructors because it was August, and most people in the teaching profession had already committed themselves for the coming year. Later on we had reason to regret this haste.

(*NOTE: Most other published accounts say classes started on Oct. 14th)

By the time the Institute was ready to recruit students, World War II had ended, and people were being discharged from the Military Services. Furthermore, the federal government had adopted legislation that provided substantial financial aid for veterans who wished to continue their education. Since a large number of people leaving the services decided to obtain education beyond that which they had received in high school, it was possible to recruit enough students to fill the program that had been planned without much difficulty.

In addition to a program in Retailing, a plan developed by the State Education Department called for programs in Mechanical, Electrical and Textile Technology in Utica. It was for this reason that I was offered a position in the school and asked to assume responsibility for developing these programs.

As soon as the program in Retailing had been established, we began a search for a suitable location for the technical programs. After looking at a number of buildings and examining the cost of making them suitable for classroom and laboratory use, a decision was made to rent the third floor of a textile building located on State Street on what is now the parking lot adjoining the buildings of the Slocum-Dickson Medical Group.

By the time we were ready to set up laboratories, most of the money allocated for the purpose of purchasing equipment had been spent. We, therefore, had to resort to every means we could think of to obtain laboratory furniture and equipment. Fortunately for us, equipment that had been used during the war effort and which was still owned by the government was made available to educational institutions. The problem consisted of finding the kind of equipment we needed among thousands of tons of equipment scattered around at various locations.

I had some really incredible experiences while engaged in searching for equipment. On one occasion I spotted in Buffalo two heat treating furnaces of the kind we needed. A month later, a whole freight-carload of furnaces and sizes arrived in Utica, and we were told they were ours. We then had to hustle around and make trades with people who could use them. In this way we got equipment that was suitable for our purposes without spending any money. On one occasion I was invited to be in New York early on a Monday morning when a major distribution of military supplies was to be made. On this occasion instead of walking around some piles of equipment, the people present were given lists from which they could select items they needed. While some very good equipment was being made available, the lists I had to make selections from contained such impossible items as Wac’s underwear and lifeboat covers.

In spite of all the problems we had, we were able to start classes in Mechanical Technology by January 1, 1947. For several weeks we had plumbers and electricians working in classrooms and laboratories while classes were in session, but everyone was very tolerant, and we got along very well. At the same time we were furnishing laboratories for the use of Mechanical Technology students, we were also getting ready to receive Electrical Technology and Textile Technology students. In 1947 about 27,000 people were employed in the textile industry in the Mohawk Valley. It therefore seemed appropriate for us to have a Textile Program. The manufacturers of textile machinery were extremely helpful in giving me an understanding of yarn and cloth making, and with the help of local textile manufacturers we were able to select and acquire equipment that I thought compared favorably with the equipment in textile schools I visited throughout the Northeast. One of the things we had that local units of the textile industry lacked was a Quality Control Laboratory. We were therefore able to be of help to local industry by solving some of their quality control problems.

Textile and Electrical Technology students were first accepted in September 1947. Unfortunately, we came into existence too late to prevent the textile industry from moving out of the area. Actually, it is doubtful whether we could have had any impact because both industry buildings and machinery were hopelessly out of date and, according to people working in the industry, it suffered from a shortage of management and middle management personnel.

The creation of the Institute could not have come at a better time than it did. During the first ten years of its existence, the nature of local industry underwent a complete change. The textile industry almost ceased to exist and was replaced by metal working and electronic industries. To meet the manpower needs of these industries the Institute first of all had to find out what they were, then we had to make drastic changes in the curricula we had already developed. It also meant obtaining qualified instructors and new equipment that could be used for instructional purposes. At the same time the new industries were moving in, the United States Air Force decided to transfer its Electronic Research and Development Laboratories from New Jersey to Rome, and we were called on to train both civilian and military personnel.

To meet all these demands, we were operating our State Street facilities from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. During the day we conducted programs to train technicians who could function on a level between that of the engineer and the skilled craftsman. These people were able to perform in a variety of manufacturing activities all the way from drafting and design to quality control.

During late afternoon and evening and Saturdays, we helped people mainly to develop the manual skills needed in metal working and electronic industries. We were fortunate in being able to recruit people who had had experience in repairing textile machinery. They were able to learn much faster than the people who had little or no experience with machines.

The State Street location was hardly an ideal one for a school. On the ground floor was a warehouse for a beer company, and across the street was an institution the students called the “Biology Lab.” The height of the ceiling in the building created a problem. It was 13 feet above the floor, and the panels that were used for partitions were only 8 feet tall; so it was possible to sit in one classroom and hear what was going on in at least two others.

There was little or no area for parking cars, so students had to leave their cars on the streets. Some of the local residents objected to this and persuaded their local alderman to support an ordinance that limited street parking in the area to one hour. Fortunately, we had kind neighbors who would call us on the phone when a policeman started to chalk tires in order to determine when he returned an hour later whether car owners had violated the parking ordinance. We were then able to let students know what was happening. At the end of class, they would rush out and a general shuffling of cars would take place.

There was a small area adjoining the building which was normally used by beer trucks, but I was allowed to keep my car in it. Unfortunately, it was hard to keep the area clear of ice and snow. When there was ice on the ground, two elderly ladies who lived close by would come out late in the afternoon and put ashes down behind the back wheels of my car so that I could get traction. They appeared to be maiden ladies who told me what they lived in the same house all their lives.

Among the facilities created at State Street were laboratories used for the teaching of Strength of Materials, Metallurgy and Chemistry. They were also used fairly extensively, to help local industries solve quality control problems. In my opinion this is the kind of service an institution with a technical orientation can provide.

In 1949, the State University of New York was created. Initially all that happened was that all public institutions in the state that were concerned with higher education were removed from the direct supervision of the State Education Department and became directly responsible to a newly created Board of Trustees and administration organization. Although the five Institutes were now a part of the State University, it was sometime before they were treated as anything more than stepchildren. One of the effects of the change was to make possible the granting on an Associate in Applied Science Degree to graduates. When the five Institutes of Applied Arts and Sciences were created, they were intended as an experiment that would last for five years. At the end of that time, their effectiveness was to be evaluated and a determination made regarding their future.

In 1952, a Commission appointed to examine them recommended that they be continued but under very different conditions from those that existed in the past. Up until this time, there had been no tuition fees and the State University was solely responsible for their operation. The Commission now recommended that hey be sponsored by the community in which they were located, either the city or the county, and that the students be required to pay tuition in an amount not to exceed one third of the cost of operating the educational program. The State’s share of the cost would also be one third and the rest would be paid for by the county from which the student came, through a charge back system. Costs of equipment and buildings would be shared equally by the State and the Sponsor.

At the next session of the Legislature these recommendations were put into the form of a law which also provided that August 1, 1953 be the deadline for the change to take place.

The Director and the Board of Trustees of the Utica Institute believed that because the law establishing the Institute required that Utica provide a program in Retail Business Management that would serve the whole state, the Utica Institute would continue under the Sponsorship of the State University. They believed this in spite of considerable evidence that this would not happen.

The Director and Trustees also appeared to believe that even if the Institute could not continue under the aegis of the State University, the County of Oneida would not accept sponsorship and therefore made no request to the County to become the Sponsor. Furthermore, a few months before the deadline, the Director went on extended vacation. As a result, the editor of one of the local newspapers received an Associated Press release stating that four of the five Institutes of Applied Arts and Sciences would be made permanent and that the fifth, the one in Utica, would not.

On April 1, 1953, while the Director of the Institute was still away, the Board of Trustees met with Dr. Lawrence Jarvie, the Executive Dean of the State University and Albert V. Payne, the Head of the Technical Division, to decide what action should be taken to obtain Sponsorship by Oneida County. At that meeting it was decided that Albert V. Payne should be authorized to represent the Institute in discussion with representatives of the County Board of Supervisors in an effort to establish the Institute on a permanent basis. He was also authorized to serve as Chairman of a committee composed of department heads to administer the Institute.

During the following weeks, support for permanence was sought from the Utica and Rome Chambers of Commerce and from other groups, mainly industrial, that the Technical Division had worked with over a period of time.

On May 13, 1953, the Institute held its first meeting with a Committee of the County Board of Supervisors, and Albert Payne was asked to prepare an estimate of the amount of money the County would have to provide for the maintenance of the College during the first and third years of operation under County Sponsorship.

When Mr. Paul Richardson returned from his vacation he decided to present his resignation. The resignation was accepted, and Albert V. Payne was named Acting Director.

In June 1953, the County Board of Supervisors met under the Chairmanship of Mr. A. H. Meyer and voted unanimously* to sponsor the establishment of the Utica Institute on a permanent basis starting on September 1, 1953. (*NOTE: Other sources put the vote at 41-1) The Board also voted to rename the school the Mohawk Valley Technical Institute, and adopted a Budget of $280,120.00 for its first year of operation. Student tuition fees were set at $300.00 per year. Under the State Education Law providing for local sponsorship, the Institute had to be governed by a nine-person Board of Trustees all of whom had to be residents of the local community. Five of these members had to be appointed by the Board of Supervisors and four by the Governor of the State. The nine persons appointed were:

Willis V. Daugherty
Dave R. Evans
Cyril C. Statt
Thomas S. Kernan
Robert G. Thomas
John H. Eikenberg
Milton Rosenthal
Frederick W. Roedel
J. David Hogue

Only the last two persons on the list were carried over from the old Board. This was an extremely strong Board that worked hard and long to lay the foundation for the future of the Mohawk Valley Community College. Since Mr. Roedel had had experience on the old Board, he served during the first two years as Chairman. After that, Mr. Daugherty became Chairman. On October 6, 1953, the new Board of Trustees met and appointed Albert V. Payne to he position of President; a title suggested by the State University.

In taking this position the new President faced a number of difficult problems. Because of the uncertainty about the future of the school, full-time student registrations had dropped very considerably. It was therefore necessary to make a considerable effort to encourage high school seniors to register in the programs the Institute offered. We started by trying to inform high school guidance counselors about job opportunities in the area for Institute graduates. With the help of the Mohawk Valley Industrial Association, we conducted a one-day program in which guidance counselors were the guests of local industries and shown some of the technical activities the industries engaged in above the level of manual operation. The program was effective because both the quality and quantity of registrations began to show improvement.

During the Summer of 1953, the largest of the local textile industries announced its intention of closing its plants and dismissing its employees. The effect was to cause applications for admission to the Textile Program to drop to almost zero. We therefore decided to discontinue the program as soon as students already in it had graduated.

When the Retail Business Management program was first developed, it was intended to prepare students to work in small, family-owned stores. Actually the employment opportunities were, for the most part, in department stores and chain stores. In the Retailing system, methods were changing and becoming increasingly technical in nature. We therefore turned to the New York Council of Retail Merchants for help in bringing our curriculum up to date. With the aid of the Council we were able to establish a Curriculum Advisory Committee under the Chairmanship of Louis Broido, Executive Vice President of Gimbels. Malcolm MacNair, the Filene Professor of Retailing at the Harvard Graduate School of Business, also gave us a great deal of help.

Unfortunately, the substantial drop in student registrations and changes in the curriculum caused some faculty members to become redundant. Their separation from the Institute caused some of them to try to use political means and the mobilization of student opinion to retain their positions as faculty members. But these efforts, while at the time causing considerable unpleasantness, eventually died out. As a matter of fact, about a year after I had been appointed President, the President of the Faculty Organization informed me that the faculty had decided to abandon their present organization and to ask me to organize them. This I agreed to do and proceeded immediately to appoint a Faculty Committee to develop By-Laws for the Faculty Organization that would include the President of the College. The By-Laws that were adopted by the faculty made the President of the College also the President of the Faculty Organization. This arrangement is an ideal one because under it, teaching faculty and administration become part of one team that works together to achieve a common purpose.

In order to further unify the faculty and to reach a common understanding of the goals we sought to achieve, we decided to seek accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. We had already obtained accreditation for the Electrical and Mechanical Technology programs from the Engineers’ Council for Professional Development. Incidentally, when this happened all of the graduates working for the United States Government at Griffiss Air Force Base received a higher civil service rank and an increase in their pay.

Since we were the first two-year college in the state that placed a substantial emphasis on technical programs to seek accreditation from the Middle States Association, the effort we had to make was a pioneering one. We had to convince the Middle States Association that our programs were appropriate for a collegiate institution and, in particular, that we had struck an appropriate balance between general and technical education. After we had experienced a rather long drawn-out process of self examination, the Middle States Association sent a nine-man team to examine us, and in due course we were accredited. When it was all over, several people who had originally opposed the action said that it was the best thing we could possibly have done.

It was during this process of self examination that involved the faculty, the Trustees and outside consultants, that we decided the need of the community was for an educational institution that was definitely committed to college-level work. To be more specific, this meant that in addition to providing students with enough knowledge and skill to obtain employment in the field in which they were interested, we would also give them enough General Education and Science and Mathematics so that they could function as intelligent and informed citizens and continue with their education for as long as they wished. We also decided that our faculty would be put under no pressure to “Publish or Perish.” The knowledge of their subject and their ability to teach would be the criteria by which they would be judged. We were fortunate in not having a rigid salary schedule, so that we could reward people by giving them more than one increment when we felt justified in doing so.

The research we did was for the most part institutional research. We were fortunate in having received a computer as a gift from UNIVAC Corporation and were therefore able to make such studies as a comparison between students’ high school records and their degree of success in academic subjects in the college. Studies were also made to determine how well graduates did on the job and at senior colleges to which they had transferred. In this way we were able to determine how well the college had succeeded in its mission.

Although we were still in the early 1950’s, our work with Advisory Committees forced us to realize that we were already in an age of high technology. Management people in retailing and other forms of business were already using computers to maintain control over their operations. In industry, automation and other high technical methods of manufacture had come into existence. We were therefore constantly under pressure to keep abreast of these developments.

For a long time he people in the technical departments agonized over whether we should teach calculus. The decision was finally made when we became the guests of the General Electric Company at French Road, and our people heard the G.E. engineers say emphatically that technicians needed to have a knowledge of calculus. At that time, there were no textbooks suitable for use in teaching calculus to technicians, so our people had to prepare their own instructional material. A year later the American Society for Engineering Education published a report, known as the McGraw Report, that recommended that Industrial Technology programs include calculus. Needless to say, our people felt pleased that we were already doing this.

The faculty was also pleased when the college received recognition from the National Society for the Study of Education Programs for the curriculum changes that were made in order to improve our General Education program. A great many of our students had a low level of competence in expressing themselves in writing. Courses in English were therefore conducted with small classes so that instructors could provide individual instruction. We also tried to find ways of teaching English that departed from the conventional writing of a weekly theme. As a part of our basic plan of operation, we decided to put as much money and effort as we could into the instructional program. We therefore kept the administration organization down to the minimum that was needed to be effective and to watch all costs that were not directly related to instruction. In this way, we could within the limits of our budget, pay for good teachers and a good student counseling program.

The college was under a certain amount of pressure to adopt an Admissions Policy that would permit any person who had graduated from high school to register in the program of their choice. Careful consideration was given to this policy, but the arguments against adopting it seemed to be overwhelming. For example, when ten two-year colleges selected at random in the State of California, where this policy had been adopted, we found that in every case attrition was in excess of 70%. The Trustees therefore decided to continue the existing policy of being reasonable selective. Later, when the Chancellor of the State University, Dr. Sam Gould, visited the college he was asked at a meeting with the faculty what he thought of an Open Door Policy; he responded by saying that the adoption of such a policy would lead to chaos. The County Executive, Mr. Charles Lanigan, and local high school principals also supported the Trustees in their decision.

With the level of instruction established, we had to decide what requirements candidates for admission would have to meet. Studies we had made showed that only 4% of students we had admitted with high school averages of 70% actually graduated, and that to register such a student doomed him almost inevitably to failure. We therefore set a high school average of 75% as being a requirement for admission with the understanding that we would carefully scrutinize each application to determine whether a candidate had shown any spark that would indicate that he had more ability than an average less than 75% indicated. We also set high school course requirements depending on the program a candidate wished to enter.

Since we were an Institution receiving substantial support from the community, we felt we had an obligation to provide the means by which those people who had not met course requirements could do so. We did this by offering courses they were deficient in during the summer and in the evening.

There are many people associated with two-year colleges who feel that the two-year college possesses the magic by which they can, through remedial programs, teach students who have failed courses in English and Mathematics in high school. We did not believe we had this magic at Mohawk Valley Community College. Furthermore, we could not find any institution that could provide concrete evidence that they did. Since most of our students were first generation college students. We had to have the strongest possible counseling program. Much of our total budget was therefore spent on student counseling.

In addition to conducting programs during the day with full-time students, we tried to respond to community needs by offering courses for employed workers during the evening. Since many students attending classes in the evening were young, and in many cases newly married, we kept tuition fees to a minimum. Because of the way in which we were organized, we were able to offer programs which were designed to meet special needs. For example, during negotiations between the General Electric Company and the union representing its Utica employees, the union accepted a wage increase that was less than they had originally asked for provided the company underwrote the cost of further education for union members. The college had indicated its willingness to participate in the plan by working with the company to develop appropriate courses of study and to counsel employees regarding courses they should take. Well over 400 employees indicated their interest in the plan and took Standard Achievements Tests. On the basis of the results of these tests, faculty members who were best equipped to do so advised people about courses most appropriate for their needs and abilities.

After operating under County sponsorship for a year, we began to think about a permanent campus. Back in 1947, while we were still sponsored by the State University, Mr. Boyd Golder, the Mayor of Utica, had sent a letter to the Board of Trustees informing them that a seventy-acre site on Sherman Drive in Utica was available and suggesting that the Board ask the State University to take possession of it for the purpose of establishing a permanent campus. Since the State University had no plan to continue sponsorship of the college indefinitely, nothing came of this. The Board of Trustees now decided to make a request that the County take title to the land offered by the City of Utica. On February 26, 1955, representatives from the Board of Trustees and Albert Payne met with Mr. Boyd Golder for the purpose of discussing the transfer of the land, and Mr. Golder agreed to seek approval from the state legislature for the transfer to the County. This process and approval by the County Board of Supervisors took time, so it was not until September, 1955 that the appropriate documents were signed by Mr. Golder on behalf of the City of Utica and Mr. Pirnie Pritchard, the County Attorney, on behalf of the County. At their November 1955 meeting, the Board of Supervisors appropriated $20,000.00 to cover the initial cost of architect’s fees.

About this time the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute was interviewing architects for the purpose of selecting one who could design and construct a new Museum Building. One of these candidates was Mr. Edward Durell Stone. Mr. Harris Pryor, who was the Curator of the existing Museum, invited me to meet him, and it was as a result of this contact that the Trustees selected Mr. Stone to design buildings for the new campus. The local firm of Bice and Baerd (sic) was selected to supervise the construction. When the buildings were finally built, the Trustees of the State University engaged Mr. Stone to design the Albany Campus of the State University. Mr. Stone later became well known nationally because of his design of the American Embassy in New Delhi and the Kennedy Memorial Performing Arts Center in Washington. Fortunately Mr. Stone’s ideas about the kind of buildings we ought to have and our won coincided. Instead of a number of special purpose buildings, we decided to place all academic programs in one building. Since none of the classrooms were assigned for special purposes, we were able to schedule their use close to 90% of the time during a school day.

The initial plan called for three buildings: an Academic Building; a Student Union that housed a dining hall, bookstore, and rooms that could be used for a wide range of student extra-curricular activities; and a Gymnasium. The buildings were intended to accommodate 1200 students, but actually they accommodated 1600 without overcrowding. By the middle of January 1957, the architect had completed preliminary plans and cost estimates. The cost estimates were: $3,760,000.00.

Academic Building $1,727,385
Student Center & Cafeteria 245,292
Gymnasium 640,000
Value of Land 260.000
Survey, Landscaping & Parking 547,708
Contingencies 95,074

At the February meeting of the State University Board of Trustees, a budget for this amount was approved. The Oneida County Board of Supervisors also approved a budget and authorized the County Comptroller to negotiate a Bond Issue for the County’s share of the cost. Since the State University regarded the land as part of the County’s contribution to the total cost and placed a value of $260,000.00 on it, the Bond Issue was for an amount up to $1,620,000. Final drawings and specifications were completed by December 1957. It was not until April 11, 1958, however, that construction bids were opened. They were well within original cost estimates. In two weeks there was a ground breaking ceremony which was attended by the Trustees; Mr. Harold Kirch, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors; Mr. Boyd Golder, a Trustee of the State University; Mr. John T. McKennan, Mayor of Utica; Dr. Lawrence L. Jarvie from the State University; and Albert Payne.

When the prospect that new buildings and consequently more space began to be very real, we started to plan the introduction of new programs to meet community needs. A study among those organizations that did a considerable amount of advertising showed that they was a need for people with a sufficient knowledge of the design and production of advertising material so that they could evaluate proposals made by advertising agencies and function as liaison people between the advertiser and the agency producing an advertising program. Since we already had faculty members who had been associated with the Retailing Business Management program who could staff much of this program, we proceeded to develop a two-year program which was called Advertising, Design & Production. People in the banking and insurance fields also indicated that they had particular needs. The college therefore developed a curriculum in Banking, Insurance and Real Estate. In developing these programs, the college pioneered because no programs such as these existed anywhere.

A Civil Technology curriculum that was introduced into the day program, began in the Evening and Extension Department. We started by offering courses for people employed in the New York State Department of Public Works, and when we found that technician who could work on building and highway construction were in short supply, we expanded the program to a two-year, full-time one.

A Secretarial Science program was developed because of an apparent need for secretaries who could assist business and industrial executives and such professional people as lawyers and doctors. The people who were responsible for operating the Utica School of Commerce became concerned that the College would recruit most of the students who would otherwise come to them. They became assured that this would not happen when we informed them that the program we would offer would have a substantial content of Liberal Arts, and that we would not teach typing and shorthand until the third quarter of the freshman year.

In developing all these programs, we worked closely with future employers and received a great deal of help from them. The employment of graduates in the areas for which they had been trained was also to a large extent assured.

One of the programs that made the college unique, certainly within New York State, was a Cooperative Work Program. Most of the students enrolled in the college attended classes for 72 weeks and worked on jobs directly related to their field of study for 24 weeks. In addition to the valuable on-the-job training the program provided, they were able to earn a substantial part of the cost of their education. In a report I wrote to the Board of Trustees of the college in 1962, I said that 134 employers throughout the state were participating in the program.

The Cooperative Work Program made possible the use of facilities for four quarters of the year, and the registration of a third more students than could be registered without the program. In this way indirect costs were spread among a great many more students than is possible in a typical college situation. In 1962, annual tuition was still $300.00.

The Cooperative Work Program attracted a considerable amount of national attention. In fact, one of the last things I did before retiring was to accept an invitation from the United States Office of Education to speak about the program at a Conference of Two-year College Administrators in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The conference was sponsored by the U.S. Office of Education and the Sandia Corporation, a subsidiary of AT&T and attended by people from all over the southwestern United States and California.

Perhaps the most dramatic instructional changes that took place within the college were in the area of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. During the early years, each technical department taught its own courses in these subjects. By 1962, we had established a Department of Mathematics and Science staff by specialists in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. Furthermore, following “Sputnik” and the creation of the National Science Foundation, faculty members were able to participate in programs conducted by a number of colleges and universities for the purpose of increasing the knowledge teachers had of their subjects and helping them to improve the way they taught.

Our Mathematics and Science faculty members were involved to such an extent that we felt secure in developing a program that was specifically designed to prepare students to transfer with full credit to engineering colleges. To make certain that the program would receive recognition and that graduates would be able to transfer, we met with deans and department heads of many engineering colleges in the state before we accepted any students. Mainly, I think, because of the ability the faculty had acquired in organizing and teaching quite different subject material, graduates were very successful in the college they transferred to. In fact, it was not long before we were receiving representatives from these colleges who were interested in finding out about the preparation we were giving transferees and offering financial inducements in the form of scholarships to students we were willing to recommend.

About the middle of the 1960’s, Governor Rockefeller appointed a Commission to investigate the feasibility of establishing one or more Centers for the study of high technology in New York State. During its deliberation, the Commission decided that if a Center was established it would need high-level technicians to work with scientists and engineers in the Center’s laboratories. The Commission therefore asked the State University to under(take) the training of these technicians.

It was to Utica that the State University turned with a request that we undertake the development of a program designed to train technicians who could work in Physical Science laboratories. The college accepted this assignment and, after overcoming the opposition of a State University staff member, finally introduced the program. I would like to point out that the graduates of the program are now receiving starting salaries which are higher than many of their instructors receive.

At the beginning of 1963, with the approval of the Board of Trustees of the State University, the name of the college was changed from Mohawk Valley Technical Institute to Mohawk Valley Community College because it was felt that the new name more accurately reflected the kind of institution we actually were.

Up until 1965, the only program that was specifically designed to prepare students to transfer to a four-year college was the Engineering Science curriculum. An increasing number of high school graduates were, however, indicating an interest in a transfer program in Liberal Arts. Furthermore, the Master Plan of the State University recommended that the college introduce such a program. In the Fall of 1965, we therefore accepted students into a program of Liberal Arts.

An action the college took that brought about more controversy than any other action that it had taken was the introduction of a program in nursing education. In the mid-1950’s, there was a great deal of discussion among people interested in nursing education about the desirability of taking Nurse Training Programs out of hospitals and placing them in colleges. As a matter of fact, the Kellogg Foundation was actively promoting the idea.

At Mohawk Valley Community College, we were influenced in our thinking by what we saw happening to our technical graduates. We saw their role changing from being Man Friday to an engineer or scientist to that of a fully accepted member of a team that was working on an assigned project. We thought that eventually nurses would be playing a similar role on a medical team and that because of past experience we could train such nurses.

When we began to talk publicly about developing a program to accomplish this, we very soon found that we were ahead of the times. Almost immediately we encountered strong opposition from people in the nursing and medical professions, most of whom had a vested interest in maintaining the existing programs. Fortunately, there were influential people in the community who helped us present our case. One of these was the late Mr. Edward Allen who was President of the Board of Trustees at St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital. He appointed a committee composed of members of his Board with Mrs. Doris Hurd serving as the Chair.

After several months of studying the desirability of making the proposed change in nursing education, the committee recommended that the President of the Board invite the Trustees of Faxton Hospital to participate in the study. Faxton Hospital Trustees accepted, and the study continued for several more months. The Rome Hospital was also approached but at the time was not interested. Finally, the committee members made a recommendation to the two hospital Boards that the hospitals establish a formal relationship with Mohawk Valley Community College for the purpose of training nurses, and to terminate the programs then existing in the hospitals.

At the College, we worked with a number of individuals and agencies in developing a rigorous and demanding program of education. We recognized the importance of the hospital experience students needed to have in order to become competent nurses and, therefore, limited enrollment into the program to the number for which the hospitals could provide clinical experience. Apparently, high school guidance counselors in the area appreciated what we were attempting to do because in 1965, when we started the nursing program, we received 120 applications from high school seniors all of whom had very good high school records. We had planned to accept 60, but after consultation with the hospitals accepted 90. This was the last curriculum that was introduced into the day program while I was President.

When we moved into new buildings and began to increase the number of curricula we were able to offer, we organized a faculty committee to plan the kind of administrative organization we would need to operate efficiently. After much discussion, we decided that the key people in a college such as ours were the department heads, and that if the President wanted to provide educational leadership rather than just being a housekeeper, it was desirable to place as few people between him and the department heads as possible. We, therefore, decided that a single Dean of Instruction and a Dean of Students both assisted by an adequate staff was the kind of organization best suited for our particular kind of college. We also dealt with the question of whether or not the college should be organized in divisions. Our conclusion was that if we did, we would have just what the word suggests – division.

In order to assist us in our planning, we brought in as a consultant the Administrative Assistant to the President of Cornell University, a person who had a reputation for being an authority on college administration. He spent a day with us, and we found he was in very much agreement with our decision. At the end of the day, he accepted only his travel expenses and no fee because he felt that he had learned as much from us as we had learned from him.

Acting on a suggestion made by the New York State Department of Audit and Control, we renamed the fee that applicants for admission provided with their application – “A Student Activity Fee.” In this way, we were able to create a fund that could be used to undertake a program called “Internationalism, The Challenge Ahead.”

This program brought to the campus world figures, authorities in government and economics, creative artists, and films and exhibits that illustrated aspects of culture of the world. Among those who delivered lectures were Norman Cousins, Lisa Howard, Houston Smith, Anthony Wedgewood Benn, Harrison Salisbury, and Barbara Ward. In addition we were able to bring onto the campus visiting professors from Cornell, Vassar, Dartmouth and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All of the lecturers were available without charge to the public. On one occasion the speaker was a person who helped to develop the birth control pill. Twelve hundred people attended this lecture, so it became necessary to move from the Student Union building to the Gymnasium in order to accommodate this many people.

The existence of a well-equipped Gymnasium and athletic fields on the new campus made possible an expansion of athletic programs. We had earlier committed ourselves to a policy of encouraging active participation in sports by as many students as possible in addition to the creation of varsity teams.

Now every student who was physically able and who was not a member of a varsity team participated regularly in some form of intramural sport. Soon after we arrived on the new campus, there were sixteen intramural basketball teams and eight volleyball teams, all playing on a well organized schedule.

Mohawk Valley Community College is the only community college in the state that has dormitories. There are several reasons why we decided to build them, but the principal ones are these: (1) In order to justify the employment of an adequate number of faculty with a department and also to justify the laboratory facilities that are needed in a number of programs of the kind the college offers, it is necessary to have a larger enrollment than can be obtained from the local community; (2) The climate in central New York is such that many students whose homes are in the County prefer to stay in Utica, rather than commute; and (3) A number of students at the college come from homes where there are large families and where quiet study is almost impossible. Sometime after we had built the dormitories, I heard a former United States Associate Commissioner of Education use substantially the same argument when he talked about lifting disadvantaged children out of an environment that handicaps them in their effort to get an education.

For about two years, we tried hard to get the support of the Dormitory Authority. Finally, I received a letter from the Head of the Authority stating that there was no legal reason why the Dormitory Authority could not undertake the issuance of Bonds through which we could obtain the money needed for construction, but that it would not be politically expedient to do so.

We, therefore, turned to the Federal Housing and Home Authority for help. At first we felt quite encouraged that we would be able to obtain a loan, but then we found that someone in Washington had decided that we did not qualify for a loan because we were not a college. With the help of some of our friends in the field of education, we obtained a reversal of this decision. Then after the preliminary plans from Edward Stone’s office had been approved by the Trustees and by the F.H.H.A. itself, we found ourselves blocked by someone in the New York office of the F.H.H.A. who had decided that Utica’s economic state was such that we would not be able to repay the loan. We managed to identify the individual and by hard persuasion caused him to change his mind and recommend approval.

The loan was in the amount of $1,200,000.00 for forty years at 3 ½% interest, with the first payment due two years after the loan had been made. With this amount of money, the college was able to construct four buildings with accommodations for 75 students in each building. The physical arrangement of the interior of the dormitories that we decided on is not typical of most dormitories. Rooms are arranged in four-room suites complete with needed facilities. Edward Stone thought so well of this arrangement that he incorporated it in the design of the dormitories built on the Albany Campus of the State University.

By 1965, it became clearly evident that enrollments were expanding to a point where we would soon need more space. A part of the justification for the creation of a State University was that when a college was established in that community, the percentage of high school graduates in that community going on to college increased substantially.

Before Utica College and Mohawk Valley Community College were established, the percentage of high school graduates from this area going on to college was close to being the lowest of any urban areas in the state. Now what the State University predicted would happen was actually happening. The new campus was attracting a very much larger number of local students than we were able to attract when we were in temporary quarters with a future that was uncertain. Full-time enrollments had climbed to approximately 1500 students, and over 2500 part-time students attended evening and extension courses. To accommodate people living in the Rome area, and to relieve the pressure at the Sherman Drive campus, we were now offering courses in classrooms at the Staley Junior High School in Rome.

With the approval of the County, we began to plan a building that would include faculty offices, a library, a small auditorium and some lecture rooms. When we were ready to build, we found that the federal government had made money available in the form of outright grants to states for the construction of two-year college buildings. The grant to New York State was four million dollars. Disbursements of these funds was to be made through a committee appointed by the Governor, and requests for money had to be submitted to this committee. We worked hard in preparing a justification for a request for funds and even had the Chairman of the committee come to Utica as a Graduation speaker in order that he would be familiar with our situation.

Eventually, we received a telephone call from a staff member of the committee informing us of the sad news that two grants were going to be made, and that we were placed third on a list of 28. Then a few days later, we received another call from the same person saying that the Chairman had decided that the committee’s two staff members ought to come to Utica for an on-site examination and a further review of our application on the basis of their report.

When the staff members came, we presented our case strongly enough so that a decision was made to move us up and make us second on the list. This meant that we received an outright grant of $1,450,487.00.This building was built at a total cost of slightly less than $3,000,000.00 and a cost to the County of approximately $750,000.00.

It was not completed until a few months after I retired. The Trustees did me the honor of naming it Payne Hall. It is interesting to note that the construction foreman and the clerk of the works for the building were graduates of the Civil Technology program at the college.

In a short history such as this, it is impossible to describe the contribution a great many people made to the development of Mohawk Valley Community College. This community was fortunate than on the Board of Trustees were people who were extremely talented and who were generous in contributing their time and effort in acquiring an understanding of the purposes of the college and doing all they could to promote the achievement of those purposes.

There were times when one third of the faculty members were taking graduate courses as a part of self-initiated plans for professional development. The creation of new curricula and the planning and equipping of appropriate facilities could not have been achieved without the help of faculty members who were utterly professional and completely dedicated.

Finally, there were farsighted County officials who were able to appreciate the contribution the college could make to this community, and who gave their wholehearted support.