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January 20, 2014

Debates, updates dominated local education news in 1969

The Daily Star

---- — Need for another local college was debated, departures of two longtime college administrators, and the dedication of a new occupational center made local news during January 1969.


Our region’s colleges had seen unprecedented growth during the 1960s, both in buildings and enrollment, but it appeared there was still no end in sight for additional higher educational opportunities by 1969, if local governments wished to pursue them.

As reported in The Oneonta Star of Friday, Jan. 3, 1969, “A two-year community college with a curriculum based on specific county needs is envisioned for Otsego County.”

“Two officials from the Office of Planning Coordination, and one from the office of Two Year Colleges, Thursday morning appeared before the Otsego County Board of Supervisors.”

“The county solons were told that the county meets basic criteria and the supervisors were asked to create a committee for a feasibility study” for such a new institution.

The state representatives suggested that Otsego County not undertake this project alone, specifically naming Chenango County as a possible partner in the project, which had already expressed interest in a two-year college. Partial funding could be made available through the Appalachian Regional Development Program, enacted by Congress back in 1965.

The idea for a new college never gained much support. In an editorial from The Oneonta Star of Jan. 10, there was praise given for educational opportunities already here, in the State University College at Oneonta, Hartwick College, and what were then called the Agricultural and Technical Colleges at Delhi and Cobleskill.

“Actually if the officials from Albany took an in-depth look at the educational opportunities in and near Otsego County they probably wouldn’t push the matter any further.”


“Dr. Frederick M. Binder, president of Hartwick College during its period of greatest growth, announced yesterday he is resigning that post to take a major post in the New York State Department of Education,” it was reported on Friday, Jan. 3, 1969.

“Binder, president of Hartwick since 1959, will leave Oneonta next month to become Associate Commissioner of Higher Education.”

“During his tenure at Hartwick, Dr. Binder has been the key to projects that have raised over $10 million for the college’s academic programs and has been at the helm during the construction of eleven new buildings that cost $9,161,704.”

Meanwhile at SUNY Oneonta it was reported on Jan. 11, “Milon J. Bundy, Director of Admissions ... is retiring after 26 years on the college faculty which includes 12½ years in his present position. His last day of duty at the college will be Wednesday, January 15.”


“Approximately 150 area persons braved inclement weather Saturday,” it was reported on Monday, Jan. 20, “to join with state officials and district educators in dedication ceremonies at the recently-completed Northern Catskills Occupational Center at Grand Gorge.”

Construction of the L-shaped building had begun in May 1968 and completed in time for classes beginning by September 1969, at a cost of nearly $1 million.

“Master of Ceremonies for the occasion was Dr. Bernard Hughes, Gilboa, vice president of the Board of Co-operative Educational Services of the Second Supervisory District. Dr. Hughes introduced and recognized from the platform a wide cross-section of guests having past and present connections with the origin and completion of the new facility.”

Elwood Hitchcock, a BOCES executive officer, noted at present there were 138 students registered in nine different courses from nine different schools in the Supervisory District. The local pupil capacity for each half-day session was 260 at the time.

“Considerable warmth and humor were injected into the event by the remarks of Dr. Michael Jastremski of Cooperstown, who brought greetings from the Otsego County area, and expressed the hope that the residents of the Supervisory District would support the construction of a similar vocational education center proposed for the Milford area.”

This weekend: Local high school students take on new skills for the war effort in 1943.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at His website is His columns can be found at