Teachers College to SUNY, 1942-present

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Dr. Ernest Hartwell assumed the position as college president in 1936 and pushed hard for educational reform at the Brockport Normal School.

Finally, in 1942, Brockport was granted the title of State Teachers College of Brockport and was able to grant degrees in Bachelor of Science in Education, which it was unable to do as a Normal School. The following minimum requirements came with this new privilege:

  1. A total enrollment of approximately five hundred college students.
  2. An efficient program of selective admissions.
  3. A well-balanced curriculum extending over four years.
  4. A competent and well-paid faculty.
  5. A student teacher ratio of fifteen to one.
  6. An adequate library.
  7. A well-equipped biology laboratory.
  8. An adequate and trained administrative staff.

Dr. Hartwell retired in 1943 and was followed by Dr. Donald M. Tower. One of Dr. Tower’s many changes was to create a new program that would free the college from its limited horizons in elementary education. A Health and Physical Education department was started to give teachers a specialization in 1945. It was designed to produce professional teachers of Health and Physical Education with separate curricula for men and women. There was approximately sixty semester hours of liberal arts education combined with fifty hours of professional work in Health and Physical Education and eighteen hours of education courses necessary for the B.S. in Education degree. Mr. Ernest Tuttle headed this new division.

A flood of returning GIs soon increased enrollment in this specialization to a quarter of the student body. This program became popular and allowed Brockport to be selective, accepting only one of every four individuals who applied. This helped to equalize the sex imbalance, which had been predominantly women during the last several years.

In August of 1947, the Regents authorized the Teachers Colleges of the State to grant the Master’s degree in Education. Brockport was authorized to grant the new degree in both the fields of Elementary Education and Health and Physical Education. Actual graduate instruction was started in the summer of 1948, and classes were carried on in late afternoon, evening, and Saturday sessions only. In 1958, Brockport was given the right to grant the Master’s degree in Secondary Education as well. This included subject matter for grades seven through twelve. That same year the program was revised to a one-third, one-third, one-third concept; approximately one-third of the program was devoted to professional sequence, one-third to academic concentration, and the final third was left to the student’s choice, being either professional, academic, or a mixture of the two.

In 1948, the last great change affected Brockport with the creation of the SUNY system. New York’s academic system had proven to be inadequate in meeting the needs of post World War II college students. To combat this problem, the state created the system known as State University of New York, or SUNY.

There were many changes in curriculum during this time period. In 1944 the Science offerings had been limited to Geography and Biology; however, Physics, Chemistry and the Earth Sciences were soon added because of their relevance to the Health and Physical Education department.

Students were given much more choice in the course selections for their degrees. Such areas as Art, Speech, English, and Social Studies were also enriched to meet the needs of students. Specifically in Social Studies, staff was acquired in areas such as Economics, Political Science, and Sociology, rather than just History. Changes were made annually as new staff was hired and new courses were offered.

In 1958 additional departments were added. The Speech Department separated from English and formed a separate entity under the chairmanship of Dr. Russell Archer. Psychology and Philosophy departments were created with George Pinckney and Howard Kiefer as chairmen. A modern Foreign Language Department was developed, and Spanish, Russian, and German were added to French, which had been the only offering in the area.

SUNY Brockport officially adopted a liberal arts curriculum in September of 1963. Majors initially available under this new curriculum were English, Mathematics, the Biological Sciences, the Physical Sciences, History, and Political Science.

Dr. Albert Brown assumed the role of College President in 1965, after Dr. Tower’s retirement. Brockport continued to change with the splitting of old academic departments and the creation of new ones. The Natural Sciences were separated into departments of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Mathematics, Geography, and Geology-Earth Science. The Social Sciences became departments of History, Political Science, Economics, and Sociology-Anthropology. The Humanities included departments in English, Foreign Language, Philosophy, and Speech. The Faculty of Fine Arts included Art, Music, Theater, and Dance. The Division of Health and Physical Education included departments of Health, Men’s Physical Education, and Women’s Physical Education. Finally, the Department of Education included the Demonstration School and Supervision.

Dr. Brown launched curricular changes with decision that all incoming students would complete a liberal arts degree with a selection of "core" courses spread out over areas in Communication Arts, the Humanities, the Natural Sciences, the Social Sciences, and the Fine Arts. At the end of freshman year, each student would indicate his/her choice of an academic major. Students choosing to major in Liberal Arts would select an academic minor, as would those seeking certification as Secondary teachers. Semester hours were set at 120 credits, making the fifteen-hour semester the norm.

In 1968, the Department of Nursing was designed to meet the shortage of well-educated nurses. The Brockport program included a unique professional sequence that included a variety of nursing situations and classroom work, as well as provided a foundation in liberal arts

Last Updated 2/21/18

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