Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer cookout!

For some years the college put on a cookout in the summer for staff and students. That tradition is being revived this summer, and as a preview, here is a shot from an earlier cookout, summer 2001.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Class of '65 dorm life

This class had a lively and enjoyable reunion this past week, as they were inducted into the Hartwell Society on the occasion of their 50th anniversary. Pictured here are some of the members as they were in the dorms some fifty years ago!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hartwell, the man

For many years the Georgian style building we call Hartwell Hall has been a landmark on campus, and its tower has often served as a logo for the school. The building was built in the late 1930s to replace the old building complex that had stood in about the same location. Ernest Hartwell was the principal at the time, as the heads of Normal schools were called. He was only head of the school for eight years, from 1936 - 1944, but he had great influence on the school's direction and infrastructure.

When he came in 1936 we were a Normal school, as were all of the SUNY four year schools of today. Normals were schools for training teachers, they had a three year course and when done one received a certificate as a teacher in the state elementary schools, but not a bachelors degree. The building complex dated back to the 1850s, and while picturesque, a lack of funds had led to much deterioration.

Under Hartwell the threat of closure of the school was staved off, a new building complex acquired, and in 1942, Brockport and the other state Normal schools all became Teachers Colleges, granting the bachelors degree for the first time.

Hartwell was in some ways a stern and formal man. He insisted on maintaining appearances, once chastising a student for being seen on Main Street, chewing gum, something no aspiring teacher should be seen doing! He was also an active educator who took a real interest in the students, and did all he could to ensure their success here. The photo here is from the 1944 Saga yearbook.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

"Ready To Roll"

In the college archives we have a slim volume entitled Ready To Roll: An intrepid teacher's journey in education. The book was published in 1982 and is an edited memoir of the life of Lena Agnes Boyle 1917, who in latter life became known as Lea Cowles Masters. The book is drawn from a set of tapes Masters recorded, at the suggestion of some Brockport emeriti she had come into contact with in her retirement in Arizona, such as Wayne Dedman, History. Ron Watts prepared the edited transcript version of her tapes, with Peg Hare Browne, Bruce Leslie, Ken O'Brian and others playing a part as well.

While her teaching career after Brockport started conventionally enough, as a grade school teacher in Port Jervis NY, by the 1930s she had acquired a bachelors and masters degrees, and became active in New Deal efforts to expand nursery and preschool education in places as far flung as the Virgin Islands and Alabama. After WWII she established the preschool for the children of staff of the newly formed United Nations. Recently the archives was contacted by a staff person at the UN school, inquiring about her, and that query prompted the scanning of her book and placement of it in our Digital Commons where you can read it now.

Lea Cowles Masters is shown here with then President Albert Brown in 1980.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Gifford Morgan & the cornerstone

We have many buildings on campus today, a couple of which were quite recently built, the SERC and the Liberal Arts Building. For a very long time however, from the start of the school in 1835 till after WWII, the college was essentially a one building school. The original building was badly damaged by fire in the 1850s (supposedly the fire was accidently started by students cooking taffy in their room!) That was rebuilt, and then wings added on in 1867 and again in 1900. That complex was still here in the 1930s, but much of it was in poor condition, in part because for years poor funding had precluded the routine maintenance necessary for any building.

Ernest Hartwell came here as principal, as the president of a Normal school was called, in 1936. He worked hard, and successfully, to stave off the threat of closing the school, and in fact managed to secure funding for an entirely new building complex, today's Hartwell Hall. An important supporter of his campaign was Gifford Morgan, who was on the board of the school, and member of a prominent local family with many political connections. The Morgan Manning House on Main Street was the Morgan family home then. Shown here is Gifford Morgan laying the 1938 cornerstone for the new building.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I Love Lucy

"I Love Lucy" was a very popular show in the early 1950s of course, but many don't know that there is a Brockport connection. Bernard Drake, who was head of the campus school here, and then a dean, had in his earlier years been principal of the high school in Jamestown, NY that Lucille Ball had attended. In 1956 an article in the Stylus described how she invited Drake to Jamestown for a get together of former friends and classmates, and to premier her latest movie, "Forever Darling." At the event Lucille Ball recalled how Drake had built up the drama program at the high school, and had given her much personal encouragement.

(Oh, in case anyone is wondering, Bernard Drake is one of two people the library is named after. The other is Ruth Drake, who was a campus school librarian here. Confusingly enough, they were not in fact related!)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brockport from the air, ca1950

Here's an aerial shot from our past,  from about 1950, perhaps a little earlier. It shows houses all around the campus that no longer are there, not only on Kenyon, but on the Utica Street side of Hartwell too. If you look off in the distance you can see "West Hall," a temporary dorm structure, where Rakov is today. The great expansion of the 1950s and '60s was about to begin!

(Click on the photo to make it larger.)