It has been five decades since SUNY Schenectady first began welcoming students who took classes in one building, Elston Hall (the former Hotel Van Curler), as they pursued their individual goals and earned their degrees. The College has grown extensively since those early days in September 1969, but providing excellent student learning opportunities and empowering students to pursue their dreams has always been at the forefront of the College’s mission. The SUNY Schenectady community began celebrating the 50th anniversary of the College today with a special kickoff event.
Dr. Steady Moono, College President, reflected on those who worked tirelessly to start the College and the faculty, staff, Trustees, and administrators there today. “When those on the Community College Study Committee recommended to the County in 1966 that a community college be developed in the former Hotel Van Curler, they took a pivotal step in ushering in a new era of higher education in the city of Schenectady, positively impacting the lives of thousands of students and members of the community,” he said. “Today, we salute them, the founding faculty members, leaders in Schenectady County, Trustees, administrators, and everyone who dedicated themselves to the early success of the College we all love so much. Likewise, I am humbled and grateful to be among all of those who work here now and contribute their time and talents every day to empowering our students and contributing to their success. With this momentum, we build upon the past and look toward the future to become the regional leader in supporting and expanding innovative and collaborative programs that transform our students and community.” (Dr. Moono is shown greeting Professor Thomas Baker, shaking hands, and Professor Alan Carter, Founding Faculty Members.)
Dr. Moono described the accomplishments of thousands of alumni who have graduated from SUNY Schenectady. “We have had 19,748 students graduate from the College,” he noted. “They are business owners, scientists, chefs, CEOs of international companies, technology specialists, pilots, counselors, professional musicians, and some are now educators themselves. The educational foundation they received here set them firmly on a path to advanced degrees and success in their chosen fields.”
When the College first opened in 1969, there were eight degree programs, and all classrooms and offices were located in Elston Hall (named for Charles W. Elston, a member of the original Board of Trustees who served as Chair of the Board for eight years). Today, SUNY Schenectady offers 59 degree and certificate programs, as well as workforce development classes, in five buildings on campus and at extension sites in downtown Schenectady (Center City and the Kindl Building) and Albany (Central Avenue) and Scotia (Richmor Aviation).
This growth in the College’s partnerships is celebrated by Ann Fleming Brown, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “SUNY Schenectady is a model for innovation and forward thinking,” she said. “The College is continuously developing new and responsive academic programs and initiatives. These ongoing improvements broaden opportunities for students and provide them with the paths to transfer for bachelor’s degrees or to enter the workforce. Although the heart of our work is always in Schenectady, our impact reaches far beyond our campus with the growing number of transfer agreements with other colleges, with companies offering our students internships, with workforce development training, and with ties to local school for K-12 initiatives.”
During today’s anniversary kickoff, leaders in Schenectady County and city government were on hand to congratulate those at the College for shaping the lives of its students and the city of Schenectady alike. Anthony Jasenski, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature, extended his appreciation to members of the College community. “This half-century milestone in the life of the College is an ideal time to recognize how having SUNY Schenectady as an anchor in downtown Schenectady for 50 years has been such a positive force economically and educationally,” Jasenski said. “Schenectady County is truly proud of all that you have accomplished and pleased to support the College as it continues to grow and expand.”
As friends of the College joined with students, alumni, faculty, staff, Trustees, and administrators during today’s anniversary events, remarks were also made by local dignitaries and students. The College debuted a poignant 50th anniversary video and guests enjoyed a delicious birthday cake.
Left to right are: Dr. David Clickner, Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs; Joan Dembinski ’10, Alumni Hall of Fall Inductee; Honorable Gary McCarthy ’77, Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee and Mayor of the City of Schenectady; Nkeiru Ubadike, Math/Science major and Student Trustee; Dr. Steady Moono; College President; Dr. Peggy King, Emeritus, College Trustee and Member of the Foundation Board of Directors; Honorable Sara Mae Pratt, Schenectady County Legislator; Tina Chericoni, Versaci, Esq., Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and Member of the Foundation Board of Directors; and Raymond Gillen, College Trustee.
SUNY Schenectady has special events planned throughout the year to commemorate our 50th anniversary.