Almost 75 years ago, the new faculty and students of Queens College held a solemn procession around the administration building to celebrate the newly formed institution.
“Keep your buildings low and your ideals high,” said New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, that day, Oct. 26, 1937, to the newly formed QC community.
QC will kick off its 75th anniversary celebration on Oct. 11, which marked the first day of classes in 1937. The planning for the big day began this past February when all of the departments gathered at a meeting to brainstorm ideas for the anniversary year, according to Dale Nussbaum, director of special events at the Office of Institutional Advancement.
Not all details of the event have been officially planned, but there “will be some type of assembled celebration,” Nussbaum said. The gatherings for the 25th, 40th and 50th anniversary celebrations were referred to as “convocations.” However, Nussbaum was unsure if the title will be used for this year’s event.
At past “convocations,” accomplished alumni received awards while important figures in higher education and the New York government made appearances and speeches. For the occasion, members of the music department composed fanfares – short musical pieces played with brass instruments – accompanied by percussion.
Robert Moses, a public figure who helped plan many of New York state’s bridges and tunnels, Jones Beach State Park and many other projects, was the keynote speaker at the 25th anniversary convocation, which took place on Oct. 26, 1962, according to The Phoenix.
A procession, like the one held in 1937, was also held with “faculty and distinguished officials in academic robes.” The ceremonies were recorded on tape and re-broadcasted on radio stations WBAI-FM and WNYC, the article stated.
During the 50th anniversary in 1987, three alumni were given honorary degrees: award -winning composer Marvin Hamlisch, ’68, former Dow Jones CEO Warren Phillips, ’42, and John Burns, ’42, who pioneered the study of Vitamin C. Again, a procession was held and students from the classes of 1941 to 1991 were honored with a floral tribute, according to an article in the Nov. 23, 1987 issue of the QC Quad newspaper.
A gala will take place on May 1 to raise money for student scholarships and announce the 75th anniversary. Described by the invitation as “an evening of cocktails, dinner and entertainment,” the gala will honor the class of 1941, QC’s first graduates.
Several alumni will receive awards, including a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award to Kenneth Kupferberg, ’41, and the first Community Leadership Award to Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall, ’72.
Twenty to 30 departments, including the Kupferberg Center for the Arts, will hold various events such as lectures and performances to reflect the period in which QC was formed. The drama and dance departments will showcase “South Pacific,” which is “symbolic of the years the college first opened,” Nussbaum said. The study abroad program will put together a pictorial exposé of past student travels. Alumni will also be involved with different events over the course of the year.
Other events in the planning stages for the anniversary include exhibits from the Rosenthal Library’s Special Collections and Archives. An exhibit on the history of QC is being planned for the fall, which will run from September to December.
In the spring, from February to May, “Hidden Treasures from Queens College Special Collections” will be on display, featuring civil rights, performing arts and rare books collections. Both displays will be housed in the exhibit cases in the library’s Rotunda, said Annie Tummino from Special Collections and Archives.
Teaching Improvements through Mathematics Education, a four-year secondary mathematics teacher preparation program also called TIME 2000, will be holding seminars on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. for the fall and spring semesters. It will include guest speakers and panel discussions regarding mathematics education, according to Nussbaum.
Student will also bury a time capsule, although it is not yet clear what items will be included or when it will be buried, Nussbaum said. Plans for the anniversary will solidify during the summer and a list of the events will be available via the Queens College website.
*(Please note that all references to the Queens College newspapers, The Phoenix and QC Quad, are courtesy of the Rosenthal Library’s Department of Special Collections and Archives)*