Class of 1955...
The fall of '55 opened with City College's second consecutive year of record breaking student enrollment. With 1400 students City College began its fall term with the largest number of freshman in its history. Along with this swell of new students also came the unveiling of the south campus making City College the third largest campus in the United States. 1955 also saw the closing of Both Hackett Hall, which once housed the theater department, and Abbe Hall. While Wagner Hall, the former dormitory for the nuns of The Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart, and the history department. In addition the education department was moved to the newly renovated South Hall with its "modern-looking classrooms" and "high illumination efficiency". Even with this slew of changes to the landscape, the College sought to expand even further calling for a new tech building and creating plans to update the infrastructure in Compton Hall.
Amidst the changes in scenery were changes in personnel, most markedly, the return of Coach Nat Holman (pictured left) to the basketball team. With a long history as a professional player and an accomplished coach, Holman began his 34th year coaching that fall. Two years prior Holman resigned amidst a controversy involving the misconduct of a few of his students but he was exonerated and welcomed back to the coaching staff by The President and students alike. City College also welcomed new professor Dr. Ivo Duchacek a man wanted by Eastern European communist parties for pushing anti-Soviet and pro-democratic views while running a London based publication. This along with the rest of the colorful cast of faculty members made 1955 a memorable year for students.
This cast of eager students was being composed more and more of a female student body, with more articles appearing in publications such as The Campus, referencing the fashion trends and the daily lives of female students at City College. The New Year also brought in four girls into the engineering department making a total of 15 female STEM students. While this may seem a small number, at the time it was an impressive step for women in the field, reminding everyone they met that engineering wasn't a boy's club.
The class of '55 found themselves enamored by the current events of the time, with figures such as Professor Hillman M. Bishop, a member of the first American Student Delegation to tour through Russia, providing lectures on the "Great Soviet Experiment. He told his students about the difficulties of finding out what was really happening in Russia and to value the freedom they had in the U.S. Students and faculty alike were exploring the world with their own eyes despite the fog brought up by the cold war. They also paid attention to events closer to home such as the marriage of the college President (pictured right) Buell Gallagher's daughter. Who married inside of The Great Hall. This ability to focus on both important world and home affairs is evident in the publication "The Campus" the City College Newspaper which entered its 48th year of publication. They also found other ways to enjoy their time off including live musical performances and writing competitions such as the folk concert given by Martha Schlamme in the Fall of '54 and the call to submit for the poetry competition.
President Gallagher was also one to promote open discussion of the quality of instruction at City College. In '55 he called for the 2nd All-College Conference, a meeting designed to evaluate the institution. By facilitating 21 workshops in which students and faculty could meet and discuss the methods for improving the college. They reviewed problems such as "curriculum, athletics, and intercollegiate activities." They did this in an attempt to garner greater student self-government.
Despite the discussions prompted by the return of Coach Holman, the athletics department was putting its best foot forward in bolstering the reputation of City College. The soccer team won the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Soccer Conference Championship continuing a three year streak despite the fierce competition against the Brooklyn College Powerhouse and the wrestling team had its best season since 1945. The City College track team closed off the year with a headline making performance against Adelphi University proving to everyone in the city, who the mighty were.
Apart from the prowess of the athletics department, the class of 1955 also saw eight of their classmates being sent to the seventh U.S. National Student Association congress in Ames, Iowa. These students represented City College in a national forum composed of students from more than half of the colleges in the country. Another group of eight students along with four alumni and four faculty members joined together, forming the board of directors in charge of the student union housed in the former John H. Finley student center (pictured left). They were partially funded by the Alumni Association and the College itself but a large amount of the operating costs were covered by a three dollar fee all supporters paid. The performance of the class of 1955 was impressive enough to warrant a duplicate of the Richard R. Bowker honor which was given to both Meyer Baden and Daniel Rosner. The award is reserved for those who do the most to further co-curricular activities at the College and was awarded to two people because of the "outstanding qualifications of both recipients." In total 42 students were honored by the student council with 18 (the largest number at the time) receiving major awards for leadership and service.
Many of these class notes are excerpted from the 1954-1955 issues of The Campus.