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October 25, 2013

Author recounts history of SUNY Delhi, life experience

The audience generated a feeling of spirited reunion last night, while retired professor, Bob Russell Ph.D., gave a fascinating lecture at the Delhi Cannon Library, where he expounded on his journey of recording history related to the State University College of Technology at Delhi’s 100 year history. 

“I began the research years ago,” said Russell. “I was motivated to publish my book, ‘The New School Has Opened; It Promises Good Things,’ during SUNY’s centennial anniversary year, and it happened, just in time.”

Explaining his journey, which included hours, days, and years spent in the college archive room, Russell said, “I also spent many afternoons right here at the Delhi Library, looking at microfilm copies of the Delaware Republican newspaper. It would take one afternoon to cover 6 months, but it was time well spent because I wanted to tap into the cultural environment of more than 100 years.”

Russell’s book, focusing on the centennial history of Delhi College, is more than a list of historical facts. The prose includes an exploratory view of culture and community with an added dash of humor. 

“The reader gets a taste of college changes and rural life in America,” said Russell.

Russell’s own personal history extends beyond the Delhi area, where he also lives. He taught Behavioral Science and its many branches in sociology and psychology at SUNY Delhi from the fall of 1967 until his retirement in 2002. 

“I also taught night classes at SUCO Oneonta,” said Russell, who drove to Oneonta one night per week to teach a 3 credit class. “I taught Sociology and social problems and family sociology, throughout the year.”

The first few pages of the 87 page book looks at “history before history.” 

Russell surprises the reader with snippets from the past. Who would have guessed that the Delhi College would be built in a community that in year 1885 the Village trustees “fulminated an ordinance against bicycles, tricycles, velocipedes, and other infernal machines, prohibiting them the use of the pavements”?

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