Geneseo History 1951-1960

1951

Old Main Razed

Old Main Razed

Old Main, the first building constructed for what was then the Normal School, had stood for 80 years and was increasingly dilapidated. Nevertheless, Old Main was a beloved symbol of the College, and induction into the Alumni Association’s Society of Old Main was the highest honor for alumni. With the loss of their gymnasium, the college’s sports teams began to use the athletic facilities at the Geneseo Junior-Senior High School (now Doty Hall).

(Alumni Office)

1951

Old Main Razed

1951

Library School Became a Division

The library school became an official college division in 1951, and by 1959, it was the second-largest specialization on campus.

1951

Library School Became a Division

1952

National Accreditation Earned

Geneseo earned its first accreditation by the Middle States Association, the organization that awards accreditation to this day.

1952

National Accreditation Earned

1953

Acting President Freeman

Kenneth Freeman

College President Herbert Espy resigned in 1952 to become Maine’s superintendent of public instruction, and acting dean Kenneth Freeman became acting president, serving from January 1953 to June 1954.

(Pretzer Collection)

1953

Acting President Freeman

1953

First Homecoming

first Homecoming float

Geneseo’s first Homecoming was held October 16 and 17 and featured a parade along Main Street. Students made grand entries and elaborate floats over the years. Homecoming is now celebrated in partnership with Family Weekend.

Phi Sigma Epsilon’s 1963 Homecoming float celebrated the 1939 World’s Fair. The float's trylon and perisphere were hinged, so students could lower them to pass under power lines on Main Street. (Milne Archives)

1953

First Homecoming

1954

College Council Began

The Board of Visitors for the College was replaced with the newly formed College Council. Members advise the college’s senior administration, advocate for the College, and provide valuable assistance for problem-solving and identifying sources of expertise beyond the campus community.

1954

College Council Began

1954

Moench Appointed President

Francis Moench

Francis Moench became college president, serving until 1963. He was also the first Geneseo president to be formally installed. A World War I veteran with master’s and doctorate degrees, he headed Cortland Normal School’s physical education department and served as dean before coming to Geneseo. His tenure witnessed increased enrollment, the recruitment of new faculty, and the construction of the library-auditorium, three dorms, a dining hall, and the health and physical education building.

(Roemer House Collection)

1954

Moench Appointed President

1955

Experimentalist Launched

Experimentalist cover

First published in 1955, the Experimentalist shared literary works of students and was edited by the English department until the late 1990s. In 2003, students debuted the first issue of MiNT, which also features student works. The current magazine is funded by Student Activities.

1955

Experimentalist Launched

1955

Milne Library—Later Called Fraser Hall—Opened

The first Milne Library was renamed Fraser Hall in 1964 in honor of Bertha Paine Fraser, a former instructor and one of the first two women appointed to Geneseo Normal School’s Board of Visitors (the precursor of the College Council), who served on the board from 1917 to 1947.

1955

Milne Library—Later Called Fraser Hall—Opened

1955

President’s House Acquired

15 Main

The College bought what became the President’s House at 15 Main Street, which was built in 1897.

(Fred Bright)

1955

President’s House Acquired

1956

College’s First Physician

Julia Delehanty

Dr. Julia Delehanty, Class of 1921, served as the college’s first physician. Students and faculty recalled her fondly for her availability and care.

(1959 Oh Ha Daih)

1956

College’s First Physician

1956

Wadsworth Auditorium Opened

Eleanor Roosevelt

The 1,000-seat Wadsworth Auditorium, built on the site of Old Main, was named in honor of all members of the Wadsworth family who played a role in the college’s history. The auditorium has been the college’s hub for performances, lectures, convocations, and many other events. During an event celebrating the building’s dedication in February 1956, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was the first person to step on its stage.

(Bright Collection)

1956

Wadsworth Auditorium Opened

1956

Enrollment Milestone

Enrollment for undergraduate study hit 1,000 students in the 1956–57 academic year.

1956

Enrollment Milestone

1956

American Association of University Women

The American Association of University Women approved and allowed Geneseo alumnae to become members of the nonprofit organization, which has worked to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research since 1881.

1956

American Association of University Women

1958

Jones Residence Hall Opened

Lydia Jones

Jones Residence Hall, named after Dean Lydia Jones, who served on the faculty from 1904 to 1922, is the only current residence hall not named for a county. Renovated in the 1990s, it is now home to two Living-Learning Communities.

Dean Lydia Jones (Livingston County Historian)

1958

Jones Residence Hall Opened

1958

Mathematics Department Established

Mathematics was established as a separate academic department.

1958

Mathematics Department Established

1958

Teachers Colleges Renamed

The 11 State University Teachers Colleges were renamed the State University Colleges of Education.

1958

Teachers Colleges Renamed

1958

Livingston Residence Hall Opened

Livingston Residence Hall opened for student housing. It began the tradition of naming Geneseo residence halls for counties in New York State.

1958

Livingston Residence Hall Opened

1958

Speech and Hearing Clinic

The speech and hearing clinic was created.

1958

Speech and Hearing Clinic

1960

Mary Jemison Dining Hall Opened

Mary Jemison Dining Hall

Students enjoyed their meals in the newly constructed Mary Jemison Dining Hall, which featured tall windows looking over the valley. Starting the tradition of naming dining halls after prominent figures in local history, MJ is named in honor of Mary Jemison, the “White Woman of the Genesee” (Deh-he-wä-nis), a colonial frontierswoman who had been taken by the Senecas as a youth, adopted by a Seneca family, and eventually married and lived within the Seneca culture.

(Hal Campbell photo, Milne Archives)

1960

Mary Jemison Dining Hall Opened