Fabulous Fifties

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It was 1950; the average salary was $2,992 per year, and a loaf of bread cost $0.14. Orange County supervisors approve a county sponsored college. Christine Morrison & Horton Memorial Hospital donates her estate to the county as a home for the college. Orange County has a college! Now was the time to celebrate, until someone asked "what's next".

There was no model to follow; we were the first in New York. How was the Committee for Higher Education going to make this happen? Today SUNY boosts 64 campuses of which 30 are Community colleges. SUNY did not even exist until 1948 and we were the first community college in the SUNY system.  Fred Germain was the motivating force behind this movement and the Committee for Higher Education.  He began forming various committees that worked independently of each other to make this happen.  The Education Committee worked on developing a curriculum. There was a committee that worked in Albany with the state education department and the newly form SUNY.  There was a publicity committee to let the public know about the new college. The teachers at the Middletown Collegiate Center, which was closing formed a committee to discuss and develop; a salary schedule, what academic credentials an instructor should possess, a statement of academic freedom, and assigning of rank based on academic credentials.

To go to a specific Year just click on the Year:

1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959

Some of the events of 1950 which led to the opening of the college that September were;


January 23 Association of Colleges and Universities of New York state favors a community college in Orange County
February 7 SUNY Trustees approve a community college for Orange County at a New York meeting
March 25 New York State announces its funding share will match appraisal value of Morrison, estates
April 26 Governor Dewey approves SUNY Master Plan including Community College at Middletown
June 12 Fred Germain named temporary President of the Community College; Charles C. Chapell named temporary Chairman of the Board
June 12 September 21st set for college opening date
July 11 Governor Dewey appoints four state Trustees to the OCCC Board; Charles C. Chapell elected chairman
August 17 Edwin H. Miner of Virginia becomes first dean of OCCC
September 14 College announces ten faculty members and four support staff appointments
September 21 William Springer of Middletown, first of 170 students to register
September 25 First classes begin for 158 students in the garage/barn/carriage house
October 10 Fred Germain, Jr. is praised by Look magazine
October 19 New York State Governor Thomas E. Dewey officially dedicates OCCC
Photo: first student to register at Orange County Community College
Newspaper clipping (Feb 8, 1950): regents approve community college for Middletown
Photo: Edwin H. Miner - first president of Orange County Community College
Newspaper clipping(May 13, 1950): Opening of college hinges on board meeting in June

At a meeting in March, 1950 the final committee’s were established for the final stages of getting the college up and running.  The Finance and Legal Committee worked with the Board of Supervisors and the state. The final financial agreement was; 1/3 from the state, 1/3 from the county and 1/3 from tuition and fees.  A Founder’s Day Committee was formed to celebrate June 9th as the founding day of the college.  A board of trustees had to be appointed because the administration of the college is the responsibility of the board of trustees.  The Orange board of supervisors appointed 5 members and the governor appointed 4 members.

Gov Dewey dedicates college Photo: first classroom at Orange County Community College

Full size Image of Dewey Dedicates

First classroom at OCCC

The next step was to get Graduating High school students to apply to the new college. The board of supervisors wanted to start the new college in 1951 but Fred Germain wanted and got the new college to accept its first class and open on September 21st 1950.    He and his secretary then began sending out applications to graduating students and he recruited and sent out volunteers to various high schools to talk to principals and guidance counselors.

Charles Cawein was the first student to apply to the college. He lived In Otisville and had wanted to go to college but his family had limited funds. When he learned about the new college he realized this would be his only chance to attend college.  Mr. Cawein addressed the graduating students at the May 2000 commencement exercise. In September 1950 the college opened with its first class of 158 students taking classes in a garage/barn/carriage house. The returning veterans and young people of the area were no longer handicapped by the lack of a college.

The new curriculum for the college consists of;

New Curriculum Offerings, 1950

  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Chemistry and Earth Sciences
  • Sociology and Political Sciences
  • Electrical
  • Math
  • Engineering
  • Physics
  • Foreign Languages
  • Physical Sciences
  • Secretarial Sciences
  • Executive Assisting
  • Physical and Recreation Education
  • Biological and Health Science

As soon as the college opened a movement started to rename the college in the Times Herald Newspaper.

Newspaper clipping: The Times Herald calls for Orange County Community College to be renamed Morrison College cross country

View a full page copy of this article

View a full page copy of this article

The college appears in the NY Times in July and opens on September 21st. The chamber of commerce in Middletown becomes a temporary office for the college until the mansion is ready to be occupied.

Newspaper clipping (New York Times, July 24, 1950): Perserverance by Orange County Citizens Produces a Community College

View full size picture of the NY Times Article.

Newspaper clipping (New York Times, July 23, 1950): College 'Crisis' in Orange County Solved by New Community School

The first semester gave the students the chance to pick one of three choices of where their classes would be held. The Barn, the stable or the garage. During the first six weeks of the college instructors and staff continued to be hired and students continued to apply and register. The book store did not begin until the next semester when they moved into Morrison Hall.

The second semester the administrative offices and some classes moved into the mansion.

first classroom in morrison hall The library

Chris Chachis was hired as Director of Athletics to build an athletic program at OCCC. There were no established teams, no equipment only 8 rusty horse shoes which belonged to the Morrison horses. He then began the first sporting activity at the college pitching horse shoes.

Chris Chachis first varisty squad

Next he began to build an athletic program, Cross-Country was the first varsity sport. Then basketball season started, a team needs opponents and most sport schedules are set a year in advance. Chris rose to the challenge and in a matter of a few weeks OCCC had a schedule of 8 opponents and a team.

OCCC first Basketball team

first basket ball schedule first basketball team

Team Schedule: Schedule

Full size image: Team

The first Academic Year came and went. The college was now in Morrison Hall and growing.
The second year brought many more changes. There was now a Varsity team in; Tennis, golf, wrestling, soccer and of course a cheerleading squad.

cheer leading squad 1951Music Department

Full size image of the Cheerleading Squad

Marvin Feman came to the college as Music Director in September of 1951. The Music Department was on the fourth floor of the mansion and this was where they practiced.


For a full size image of the Basket ball team.

For a full size image of X-Country Team article.

business clubcamera club

Clubs such as the Camera Club, Stamp Club, the Business Club, Dramatics Club, and the Chess Club were started.

stamp clubDramatics clubchess club

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January 5 OCCC plays first basketball game, against USMA Prep.
February 3 Walter E. Sindlinger replaces Edwin Miner as Dean; John Krepick named Bursar.
February 7 First Evening class schedule begins.
March 16 New York State Board of Regents approves AA and AAS degrees at OCCC.
April 23 First issue of the Citadel student newspaper published.
June 17 13 graduates at the first OCCC Commencement Ceremonies.

First Graduating class

Full size image of the graduating class

Full size image of Start Planning Today

The first Nursing program begins in 1952. The eyes of the nation were on our school. In January, the Advisory Committee for the Cooperative Research Project in Community College Education for Nursing visits the college. The plan for an experimental two year nursing program is presented to them and it is accepted.
First Nursing class

The place chosen as the nursing headquarters was the former laundry in the basement in Morrison Hall. In this area a modern nursing laboratory equipped with three hospital beds, a linen and a kitchen unit is built. The facilities of Horton Memorial Hospital are made available to the nurses. Here the skills and art of nursing is taught.

Full size image of the first nursing class.

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May 13 Bureau Examiners in Albany approves proposed OCCC two-year Nursing Program.
September 16 Classes begin for 13 students in the first campus-based two-year program in the United States.

The college begins to offer Extension and Community Services courses off campus, to responsible groups willing to arrange them. College courses such as English, Psychology, Mathematics and Music are taught at various locations. Courses are set up for special groups; a course in case work procedures was set up for social workers in Newburgh. For people wishing to enhance their leisure time, a golf clinic was set up.


Full size image of Commencement Exercise

Full size image of OCCC Bulletin

The Year was 1953 and the Varsity club and the cheerleaders sponsored the first Alumni dance for the first two graduating classes. from this an Alumni Committee was formed for the Society each year an event would be set up to honor the OCCC Alumni.

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March 8 Alumni Association formally recognized by OCCC Trustees.
September 16 OCCC enrollment exceeds 500 students

The Evening and Extension Program is a success. It began in 1951 and the immediate popularity of the evening and weekend classes caught every one by surprise. within 5 years from its start the college was offering 46 evening courses from $12 to $18 per course. The evening program in 1955 had grown to 1390 student and had its first evening graduation class of 6 students.

night class docs take OCCC course

Evening Division Student Council present equipment purchased by evening Students to the College Science Department.

Full size image of doctors listed

Evening div adds new courses Evening div begins

Full size images of OCCC adds new courses

Full size images of Evening division at County College will begin September 17

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October 7 Hudson Hall Classroom Building dedicated
November 26 Alumni unveil Morrison Hall plaque lauding Board of Supervisors

As the college grew the need for a long range building program became apparent to meet the immediate, ten year and subsequent expansion needs of the college. In March of 1955 such an initiative was launched by the Board of Trustees.

Hudson Hall is 124' by 61' two story structure, housing four laboratories, two lecture halls, nine classrooms and offices is the first step in the college's expansion plans.

hudson hall 1955citidel

Full size image of the Citadel

Baseball was played for the first time in 1955, but as a club not a varsity sport and was named a varsity sport the following year. The Alumni Association dedicates a plaque to the college in November, 1955

baseball team alumni plaque

Full size image of Baseball

Full size image of Alumni Plaque

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October 4 YMCA agrees to OCCC use of facilities for Physical education and Athletics
October 14 OCCC opens first Counseling and Testing Center.
December 31 Supervisors approve construction of Student Union and Library Buildings.

A newly organized sport this year is women's basketball. Their schedule included; Sheldon College, Vasser College, Newburgh YWCA, New Paltz State Teachers College and West Point, beating west Point's wacs both times.

Woman's Basketball Team

Woman's Basketball Team.


Students hard at work on the new student activity lounge set up in the basement of Orange Hall.

women's basketball practice

Women's basketball practice.

Baseball 1956

Full size Image of Baseball Practice In its second year

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March 6 Ground broken for Orange Hall and Sarah Wells Library.
May 11 OCCC's two-year Nursing Program officially registered by the New York State Department of Education.
hudson hall ground breaking


Typical classroom during the 1950's. (For a full size image of a typical classroom, click here.)

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MAY 8 New York State Governor Averill W. Harriman visits OCCC Campus.

The 1958-59 academic year has an enrollment in the Evening-extension division of approximately 2,800 students. The Extension and Community Services Division continues its services to Teachers, Dentists, Doctors, Lawyers and all people who are interested in furthering their education. there about one hundred instructors now in the evening division.

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January 7 OCCC named National Junior College Athletic Association Soccer Champion for 1958
January 7 Board of Supervisors approves construction of the 326-car Orange Hall Parking Lot.
January 8 Orange Hall Campus Center and Sarah Wells Library dedicated.



Full size image of Graduation day 1959


Full size image of Orange Hall


Full size image of Sarah Wells Library and Orange Hall

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