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April 7, 2014

Proposed change to Delaware County Community College rejected in 1959

The State University Agricultural and Technical Institute at Delhi, as it was called in 1959, could have had a new name in the early months of that year —Delaware County Community College. The idea was studied during the winter months, but by spring, local lawmakers had given the idea a thumbs-down.

“Possible changes in the structure of the state’s six agricultural and technical colleges to transform them into County Community Colleges is under consideration, it was disclosed yesterday,” it was reported in The Oneonta Star of Tuesday, Jan. 6, 1959.

The Delaware County Board of Supervisors, at the request of the State University College Board of Trustees, named a special committee to discuss the proposal.

Dr. William J. Kunsela, then president of the college, said the idea was only under discussion, and would require legislative action to make the name change. He explained that the move could make the six agricultural schools similar to 14 other community colleges, permitting a broader program, although each would continue to give associate degrees, rather than bachelor degrees.

“The principal factors considered in the proposal are financial,” the Star reported. “At present, the institutes receive their entire support and capital construction funds from the state.

“If the change is made by the Legislature, operational expenses would be divided, probably on the ratio of one-third from the state, one-third from the county and one-third from student tuition. Capital construction costs would be divided between state and county on a 50-50 basis.”

If the change to a community college was to happen in 1959, the legislative action had to be completed before the state budget deadline for adoption, April 1.

The study and discussion of the change was rather quiet until the Star reported on Tuesday, March 24, “A bill to let Delhi State Ag & Tech Institute convert into a community college yesterday caused a furor of political activity in Albany and Delaware County.”

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