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.

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