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					                       ULSTER COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
                       INTERVIEW: Bob Brown, President Emeritus
                         INTERVIEWED BY: Dr. Rosanne Yetzer
                                  January 20, 2006

RY: First let me thank you for being available today to participate in this very important study
for SUNY, an oral history of our community colleges. Could you please tell us when you first
became associated with Ulster County Community College and how long you were associated
with it?

BB: I became associated in August of 1965. I was hired as the college's second financial officer.
I was with the college for 33 years, nine of them as the financial officer, Dean of Administration
and 24, almost 25, years as president. So that was my career of over 33 years at Ulster County
Community College.

RY: Okay. Who were some of the colleagues or contemporaries with whom you worked at the
college? And what do you remember best about what their contributions were to the

BB: That's a tough one. I could go on for hours just on that alone. I‟ll start with the presidents.
I was hired by the first president, Dale Lake; he was a real aggressive person who was able to get
a lot done in the preliminary years on the campus. He certainly is to be credited for some of the
things that paved the way as we went on.
The second president was George B. Erbstein. He was much more of an academic person and
certainly we had a very good relationship; he and I not only worked on the completion of the first
phase of the campus, but he was there for completion of phase two as well. Certainly we had a
lot of problems as we worked through that. Going back to the first phase, Dale Lake was there
for a short period of time, and during the initial phase, we had purchased Virginia brick for the
college. Because of the local unions, because Kingston is one of the areas where bricks are
manufactured in New York State, our sponsor wouldn't allow us to use the Virginia brick. So
when Dale left, I gave him a gift of Virginia brick, which was sort of made up as bookends. He
never forgot that when he came back.

But the presidents that I worked with and the academic deans, vice presidents, I worked with all
of them. Sherm Maston was the first one. He was an outstanding scholar. He hired some
outstanding faculty for us that stayed well into the '90s and really helped develop a good
reputation for the college. Sherm was instrumental in developing and writing the first academic
programs for the college; he did a very good job. Our second vice president was Irmgard Karle,
the first female dean in New York State, I believe, in community colleges. And she was a
chemistry faculty member. And again, her background was academic and she really worked
hard at continuing to hire the kind of faculty we needed, and helping them move along with their
programs and refining and improving them as we've done. The next one was Robert Markes
who was my high school history teacher and basketball coach; we had a lot of fun together. Bob
was an excellent Dean of Faculty and then he became Vice president. I really enjoyed and
worked well with him. He was well-known throughout the state. He was a strong leader but one
who could empathize with student concerns as well. So Bob was very instrumental and many
people at Ulster and around the state remember him for his leadership roles. I'm still in contact
with him, by the way.
Just one other academic VP that I would like to talk about, our Dean of Faculty Don Katt, who is
now the president of the college. Don and I worked together for a long time. He also worked
very well with our faculty. He is a very good administrator. I‟ll always remember that when he
was director of student activities, they had a party in an airplane hangar, and Don moved the
plane and hurt the wing of the plane, so I never let him forget that. We still own an aircraft
because we had to pay for the damage. The student government paid for the damage.

But there are so many faculty members that I'm almost embarrassed that I leave some out. We
go from John Park who was our division chair for humanities; he taught music, and he wrote our
alma mater. He was really a southern gentleman. He was a great teacher and a very good
academician. He really did help in the hiring of faculty and making the transition for some of the
faculty because in the beginning we hired people from high schools as well. Gordon Kidd was
our Director of Library Services. Our library was always the center of our constructed campus.
The one that we were in temporarily was just like a little hole in the wall. But Gordon had the
ability to hire great staff. There was a very warm environment in the library. We had one of the
best libraries for a small college, probably in the state, and a lot of time was devoted to it. Also,
I remember as Dean of Administration devoting the kind of resources they needed to do that.
Other faculty, Al DiBernardo was our athletic director. He coached all sports the first couple of
years. He always helped out, when we had our picnics out on the campus, to bring all the
athletic equipment, and we would play softball or football or whatever. Al stayed many years at
the college and retired only recently. Joan Beckwith…who was a business faculty member.
We're a small institution, and we were very close, and we used to have a faculty wives'
organization and, of course, that included everyone anyway. We would have gourmet dinners
and parties and I still remember a Halloween party she had that was just so much fun and
brought so many people together. It was great. So, there are so many.
Rhoda Mones who taught English and speech; she ended up helping me write speeches when I
became president; the students just loved her. It was tough taking her out of the classroom to
have her help me do that speechwriting. She also enjoyed that.
Ron Koster, who was a business faculty member also, also ran our bookstore, which was a
closet; that's what it was when we first started. Ron actually became our Director of Continuing
Education in later years. He was a very innovative, bright man who spent a lot of time and effort
working with the students and the people in the community. So, I could go on but I think that's
probably enough.

RY: Okay. Were there ever any town-gown problems or problems in the relationship with the
college sponsors?

BB: I could probably go on for the rest of this tape about that. In the first 10 or so years we had
a great many problems. It was interesting though, that the local sponsor didn‟t get involved in
the site selection, which was very political. And I think they were smart. There were two
competing sites. The reason they didn‟t think the site we‟re at now was proper was because of
water problems; they couldn‟t get rid of the waste. It was on a lot in Stone Ridge, and it was on
a „stone ridge.‟ It was on a ridge of stone, and they couldn‟t really break through it so they had
to blast a lot of it to build the campus. Our sponsor stayed out of the site selection but got
involved from there on. They overturned the board of trustees twice on the selection of an

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architect. They got involved in not allowing a private office for faculty in construction of our
facility. They nitpicked on buying furniture and equipment rather than letting the educational
people do it. They got involved in who our contractors and subcontractors were, and it just went
on from there. They didn‟t like the idea of what we were paying faculty; they thought we were
overpaying them, and that we had too many administrators. This is when we were a very small
college. So it was a very difficult time. It brought the resignation of at least one president, Dale
Lake; he just couldn‟t take it anymore and moved on, and we hired our second president. We
had those problems right through, just as I became president. Not because I became president,
but it started to subside then, in 1974. That's after they interfered in a collective bargaining
situation where they overrode the agreement that the board of trustees came to through binding
arbitration with the faculty, and they turned it back. It's interesting to note that the contract they
actually ended up with was richer than the one that was turned down.

RY: Do you recall how the college worked to develop the campus and the buildings?

BB: Yeah, I do. I was the Dean of Administration so… The day I walked in they were just
starting the site work on the campus; we actually had the first phase of the campus approved. I
think the first phase cost $1.5 million dollars. That's all. And that was for a small administration
building, a classroom building, a library, and a science building. They were all part of the first
phase. The architect that was doing this we did not choose, the county did; and he was not very
good, to be honest with you, at least at articulating things to our faculty. There were many hours
that we spent together with our faculty and staff designing, within the limitations that we were
given, to develop our first phase; what we needed, our science labs, and our classroom facilities.
So there was a great deal of involvement by everyone on campus and again, it was not a large
investment at that time, but it was the whole world to us because we were coming from a former
primary school building, and now we had lots of room. A lot of it, we had to force functions in,
such as my office was a business office, was a classroom. So there was a lot of work done by the
faculty and staff. We had many problems. We had union problems, contractor problems; we
had change order problems. But it got built. Of course, then we went right from phase one to
phase two. Phase two included a large classroom building with a cafeteria with a kitchen in it, a
gymnasium with a swimming pool, and a technology building. Well, the design of a pool
brought down the wrath of the world on us. The legislature didn‟t want it; they thought we were
trying to sneak it through on them because the architect called it an aquatic area, and they
thought that we were trying „to pull the wool over their eyes,‟ but that's what the architect had
named it. So we lost the pool. We had a cafeteria but no kitchen; they took the kitchen out too.
So we had all of these students there with a nice cafeteria with a tiny snack bar, and we had that
until recent times when that was changed.. So those were some of the problems we got involved
in, and that was the second phase. But that finally got built with many, many problems and that
was all done before 1980, and the rest of the buildings came after 1980. I know Vanderlyn Hall,
which is a very large building, houses the bookstore and the cafeteria, which I told you didn‟t
have a kitchen. They couldn‟t get the air conditioning to work in that building. In midsummer
we had summer school classes in there and the people were just baking because the windows
they put in didn‟t open. We actually invested money to put in some windows that would open so
we could get some fresh air. So it was warm in the summer and cold in the winter. But it got
built, and it's a beautiful campus. Again, the library is the center of the campus. I think we're
very proud we've made some nice changes in recent years, and we're all proud of it.

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RY: Well, that's wonderful. As we move on, was the college foundation active while you were
at the college? And how successful do you feel it was?

BB: Oh, exceptional. I started the foundation in my second year as president in 1976. We
started with $77,000 in assets, and it's over a million now, I think. We brought together
community leaders. This was one of the first times we did that. There is still at least one of
those people on our foundation board and that's Chris Larios, who you will hear from probably
some time in the process. We tried everything. We had Frank Delaney, who had been the local
manager of IBM and had retired, and in his last year of working for IBM, he worked for us half-
time; he worked for me. And he came up with this idea that we would send out brown paper
bags to all our alumni and ask them to put money in them and send them back to us. I don‟t
think we got anything back but we used to laugh. Don Katt will never forget--we had the
Cincinnati Ballet on our campus, and I told him that was one of the biggest losses we've ever had
in our life. But we started very slow and we had a devoted group. People like Chris Larios,
Glenn Sutherland, and Bill Collier, just to name a couple who were there. We had a lot of
trustees involved too. People like Wendell Harp, Ann Donovan, and John Wadlin--who was on
our foundation board before he became a board member. And we had a series of activities. We
had auctions; we had cooking shows, quilt shows. And we did some straight out person-to-
person fundraising.
I still remember one of the largest gifts we ever received. I spoke at the local Kiwanis Club and
a gentleman came up to me afterwards, and he said "How would you like to start an honors
program on your campus?" I said "Yeah, I think it would be a good idea. We always have gifted
students and we want to see them succeed." He said, "Well, I'm willing to give some money.
Can I come out and talk to you?" So Don Katt and I met with him. Don was in charge of
development at the time. And we convinced him that we could do it and it would be a good
program. He took out his little checkbook, the personal-sized checkbook, and wrote us a check
for $25,000 and gave it to me. Don and I were looking at it!; we couldn‟t write one for $25
dollars, but we got one for $25,000! And they funded that program for, I would say, 15 years.

RY: Who were they? Do you care to mention?

BB: Yeah, it was the Schultz family. This was the father, Richard Schultz, but his son, Dick,
also was very helpful in doing that. Every year, when their business was good they gave us
increasingly more money that we spent on that program. It was a very good program. At the
same time that the foundation started, it was back in the late '70s, a college scholars program
started. So the top 25% could go for nothing; after their financial aid was obtained, their college
tuition would be covered. The foundation got a good start. It had a good core of people working
on it in the community; our motto was to make a good college „great,‟ and they helped do that.
We started with a very small ceremony for awarding scholarships and it gets bigger and bigger
and bigger every year.

RY: Certainly a successful foundation…

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BB: Yeah, and they're extremely important now. Every community college has a foundation but
for several years we were one of the leaders in the country because there weren‟t many. But it's
a small college in comparison.

RY: Okay, what were some of the most interesting or exciting times, situations or incidents that
you were aware of and what were the outcomes?

BB: Boy, there's a lot. It's been a while so I may not be an accurate reporter. As I was
interviewed when I first became president, people asked me why I wanted the job and I said "I
love this institution, I love the students, and I love coming to work everyday." And they asked
"Even with all the problems?" I said "All problems have solutions, and we're working toward
that." One of the exciting times was when the whole construction site shut down because I had
our maintenance department moving furniture into buildings and the carpenters' union said that
that was their job, so they shut us down. So I stopped moving furniture and moved it at night.

Another exciting time, which was certainly a very difficult time and was like a civil war was the
faculty strike. It was only three or four days' in duration but it was like a civil war and that
close-knit group was starting to fall apart as we all had to take sides. The faculty struck and a
strike in New York State is against the law. You're fined two days' pay for every day you're out.
So that was a very difficult time. Some faculty crossed, or went around, the picket line, and their
tires were cut. So it was bitter, and it was difficult to live through and bring everyone back
together. I think fewer and fewer students wanted to cross the picket line as well. So that was a
difficult time. The then-president, George Erbstein, tried to make some amends; he extended the
academic year by five days to accommodate the loss of the five days' pay for the faculty. We
really needed the time for them to make up their academic work. But it did not set well with our
local sponsor, not even with our board of trustees. But I think he did the right thing.

We've had some great sporting events at Ulster. At one time we had won the national
championship in soccer, and we came close in basketball. We had a grand jury investigation of
one of our basketball players who never graduated from high school; he never graduated from
grade school. Somehow he had a forged transcript and that became a problem. The grand jury
found no guilt there. We had actually two of our teams in the national championship. We had to
call them back because they had ineligible players. We found out when they were in the national

RY: And this was the national championship in what sport?

BB: Soccer. We had to give up our season twice in soccer. In basketball we had to give it up
once. And so I sort of de-emphasized the recruiting. We were a commuting campus. We didn‟t
have all the services for these students so it was unfair to them as well. It did bring a lot of
people. A lot of people admired our athletic programs. And it's a tough balance because it does
bring students to the campus when you have good athletic teams.

An exciting time that I had personally in my life, I had to suspend a whole baseball team because
no one would confess they were coming up the Thruway and mooning everybody. They
wouldn‟t tell me who it was so we suspended the whole team and one night shortly thereafter a

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beer bottle went through our living room window. I think people were upset with me. But all-
in-all, they were good times.
Probably one I should relate, in the first year I was president, was when we were having
problems with our library roof leaking. It would leak all the time; we just couldn‟t get it to settle
down. So we hired a special engineer who could look at distressed buildings and tell you what
the problem was. He called me up the day after Thanksgiving and said "I want you to get
everybody out of that library. If you have any more snow or rain, the whole thing could
collapse. It is 300 pounds per square inch overloaded right now." So here I am, president for
about four months, and I'm saying "Now I have to close the library." I already had to let the
basketball coach go for some reason, and I was saying "Oh, boy, I don‟t know if I'm every going
to make it through this time." But here the local sponsor stepped up. We described it and we
told then we had an emergency. They hired the architect so maybe they felt some guilt. They
fronted all the money to get that done. Eventually the state gave us their matching share but it
was a trying time for me, being a new president. But it went on and I'm sure I had more exciting
times but that's some of them.

RY: Thank you. What impact do you think Ulster County Community College has had on the
community and what are the biggest accomplishments or disappointments.

BB: I can tell you right off the bat I don‟t think I have any disappointments. It was so great
being part of this institution and this community. Ulster became, during my employment there
what the county legislature now, our sponsor, says is one of the greatest assets that this
community has. And that's true. Eventually we got a Kingston site after 1990. That was one of
the things we needed, and we had them stand up for that. But it's gone, from those first turbulent
years I talked about, into a love affair. Ulster has one of the highest contributions from the local
sponsor of any college in the state. They really support it. They want to make it as good as they
possibly can, available for as many people as they can. So it's a very special place, and I'm sure
you will hear that from over our 30 campuses. Community colleges are a part of the community,
not apart from it. And I think that's very important.

The biggest accomplishment for me was every year that I attended graduation. It's enough to
bring tears to your eyes to see the people who come through a community college successfully. I
used to have coffee hours with students. I used to offer coffee and donuts and no one would
complain about the college; they just wanted the coffee and donuts. But I had so many; so many
women, and so many other people. Women would come up and hug me and say "Thank you for
the opportunity, for allowing us to go to college." That's the kind of impact you have. One of
the greatest rewards was, I think, in one of our programs we had a woman who came to talk to
me and she said "I was told I could never do math. I had math anxiety. But I'm actually a math
major now and it was because of Ulster County Community College and that you had the faith in
me." She's a math teacher now. So she's out there helping other people. At times we used to say
that women couldn‟t do math and some our best mathematicians are women.

RY: Absolutely.

BB: Not me!

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RY: What do you wish, if anything had been achieved that has not been?

BB: Oh. It's hard because I was president for so long and I hoped we achieved a lot of things.
I'm sure if I thought about that for a long time that I could come up with some things that I wish
we had done or done differently. It's hard to say. We‟re the kind of institution where it's small,
at least small in relation to some of our large community colleges. People worked together. We
tried to help students. The motto I had when I was there was Ulster County Community College
is where students come first. And I think that we achieved that. I think that we put together a
good faculty and a good staff. You can always achieve more. Economic development, I would
have liked to have more. I would like to have more state aid, which I'm involved in right now.
But I can't think of a heck of a lot that we didn‟t set out to try to achieve that we haven‟t. That
may be boastful from a former president but that's the way I look at it.

RY: OK. Thank you. What, if any, are the most difficult problems that were faced while you
were associated with the college and what were the outcomes?

BB: Well, finance was one of them. It was very problematic because we were scrutinized so
carefully by the local sponsor. And it was difficult for them to relate to the fact that faculty were
different when we had people on the county board of supervisors and county legislature that
weren‟t earning a lot of money. They weren‟t the IBM people. They were people from all walks
of life who were not earning as much as we would pay our faculty. It was very difficult to
explain it to these people; I understand it. I come from a very poor family. But the faculty
prepare, and do an excellent job, and work very hard. I think we've outgrown that but it was one
of the most difficult problems of a fiscal nature to overcome. It was difficult to overcome some
of the limitations that were put upon us when building the buildings, and where the campus was
even located was certainly a difficult problem. But it seems that there was an esprit de corps,
and we overcame all of that. The outcome I think is that Ulster is an excellent institution and I
think it has a good future. As I said, we need more state assistance. One of the things that I
would hope is that the state, not necessarily the State University because I think they recognize
it, but the state government and the governor recognize the economic value of community
colleges in New York State.

RY: OK. What programs or other college services such as student services, community
involvement, athletics or, especially, programs of study do you remember?

BB: Well, I have intimate knowledge of all of them because I was there and involved very much
both as Dean of Administration and as President so I can talk on each one of them. Student
services advisement was always an issue as we went at this because we had a small faculty and
many were trying to advise around one hundred students, which is very difficult. We tried to
find our way through that, and we did. We set up some special advisors through administration
to help these individuals. But that's a very important part of the community college setting
because many students come to a community college who really need some guidance, at least to
begin with, and that was a very big issue. We had so much community involvement that we had
a whole series of advisory committees that worked with our academic programs and these people
were very, very active and helpful. They loved the college. They tried to help us through those
programs and certainly were great ambassadors for us when we needed assistance with local

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sponsors. Athletic programs have had their ups and downs, as with many community colleges.
First of all, we were located outside of any city. We're quite a ways outside of Kingston so to get
people to come back to athletic events was difficult, although during that short period of time
when we had the basketball program and soccer program, we were really bringing a lot of people
out there, especially for the basketball program.
Programs of study, do I remember? I remember every one of them. It is really interesting if you
look at our catalog for the first few years and you look at it now, you can see how higher
education has changed and how we are going along with what the needs of society are now. I
still remember getting a call from State University when I was the financial officer and they said
they had like 50 thousand dollars in federal funds, could we spend it on something? And I said
absolutely. I bought a numerical billing and drilling machine. You wouldn‟t need those today. I
also remember buying Selectric typewriters. We couldn‟t give them away after a while. But
they were „the Cadillacs.‟

When we started our nursing program, I have a great story there. I was on the Benedictine
Hospital board at the time. They turned over their nursing program to us. You know, I was a
Catholic boy who went to Catholic school, and I always minded the nuns. Sister Mary Charles,
who was the administrator of the hospital, looked at me and she said, "I'm going to come back
after you if you let that program go." I lived in fear all the time I was president that it would go.
But nursing has become one of our premier programs.

Programs have moved in and out and it's the flexibility of community colleges that's very
important. But it's designed to be flexible with community colleges and to continue to change,
and they have. They keep changing to meet new demands. We still have that core of liberal arts
students; that will always be. They're looking to transfer. They do very well.
I always had students coming back to me and asking me if we could become a four-year
institution because the best teaching they had was at their community college. But they perform
very well at their transfer institution as well.

RY: Okay. In your opinion, what is it about Ulster that attracted the students and what sets it
apart from the other colleges?

BB: Well, Ulster is a community college where students come first. I said that. And the faculty
makes a world of difference. I had so many parents drive on the campus and come and see me
and say, "Immediately when we drove on this campus we knew that this is where we wanted our
son or daughter to go. You take such good care of the campus. The people are so friendly.
They care about it." And after graduation, they got what they asked for. I used to stand before
the legislature and would say, "When's the last time you had a complaint of a student who had
graduated from Ulster and was not qualified to do whatever they were supposed to do?" They
never had one. Thank God. So that‟s important.

RY: What was the relationship between the college and SUNY Central when you were at the
college? And did this relationship change over time? If yes, how?

BB: Well, seeing how the vice chancellor is a (former community college president) … That's a
hard one to answer… Sure it did. Actually though, for many years when Neal Robbins was in

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this position, it was very good for community colleges. I was president of the Business Officers,
and we worked well with SUNY. I had some stormy moments with the provost when I was
president because he always thought I was trying to do things like having our students be able to
transfer to a private institution and things like that. But they were good. I think I was President
of the Community College Presidents also. The Chairman of our Board of Trustees was
president of the Chairs Association, Bob Markes was President of the Academic Deans, so we
were very involved statewide; and we really did have a good relationship with SUNY. I hope
this hasn‟t changed over time. I think it‟s continued to improve. There was a slack period but
that was after 1980, so I shouldn‟t talk about that.

RY: Are you aware of how and why the need for a college came up? Were there opponents?

BB: How and why, yes. Actually this was in the early '60s when the community colleges were
really just on the move. The legislation was passed in 1948. Dutchess had a college. Orange
County had a college. And a lot of the people from this community were going to those colleges,
driving a long way. I know it was costing the county money, and they felt they would like to
keep the people home. People were moving away from the community as well. So a group of
interested citizens got together a citizens' committee to look at the possibility of starting a
community college in Ulster County. They brought people down from Albany who told them
what they had to do to start it. This committee recommended it to the board of supervisors,
which actually had a community college committee, and the county decided to put it out for a
referendum. It passed overwhelmingly. There is something interesting about that referendum.
They put out how much it was going to cost and their estimates compared to what it costs today
are way off but it passed, and the relationship is now one of the best things they have in this

RY: How did the college choose its first president and why?

BB: The board of trustees did some searching. They had a young man by the name of Dale Lake
who was the academic dean at Suffolk Community College, which hadn‟t opened its doors yet.
There were others but the board was sold on him. He was very articulate, very ambitious, high
energy, good vision. So the board hired him, as they were supposed to, a year before opening for

RY: What attracted you to this college? And what challenges did you face?

BB: It was interesting. I'm a community college graduate, and I was very fond of the community
colleges. I was not a good high school student. I had been in the Navy and had come out.
Orange Community College really helped me. They were caring. They were very good. They
spent time with me to help me get through. And I always had that feeling that I wanted
somehow to either teach or work at a community college. I was working at SUNY New Paltz
and teaching part time at Orange County Community College, and I had applied for a job at
Sullivan Community College. They didn‟t hire me, but their president told Dale Lake about me.
I interviewed, and I was hired on the spot. It was like a dream come true. My family loved it;
my wife loved it.

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Now I have to tell you about Orange. My teaching job at Orange was when Stewart was just an
Air Force Base, and it was one of Orange‟s off-campus sites. And I was asked to teach
accounting, at night there. And I go in to the class, and they were all ranking officers, colonels,
etc. Here this is the first class I ever taught; I didn‟t know if I should hide behind the desk, or get
started, or what. Well it turned out to be a great experience. We used to go to the officers‟ club
afterwards and talk about it. It‟s sort of like my experience now—working for a three star
And so it was an immediate love affair. At the college…there was a spirit. We really felt that we
were doing something good. People were contributing; they were painting, putting furniture
together. It was so important…it was a dream come true.

RY: That‟s wonderful. As far as challenges you faced at the time, I know that you‟ve reviewed
some of them. Do you want to comment further?

BB: Well, you know, challenges…I was an accounting major in college and here I was
responsible to build a whole campus. How did I get into this? That was a challenge…to be able
to develop the ability to work with architects, contractors, and to work through that. I give
myself pretty good grades there; unfortunately I spent a lot of time on it. But my family was
very understanding; I worked a lot of hours—almost all of the time I was at the college, but
certainly in those early years of building a campus, and making sure things kept going. I still
remember the blackout in ‟65 or ‟66 when all the lights went out in the northeast, and the first
thing that I did was make sure my family was okay, and then got in the car and drove right down
to the campus to make sure that the college was all right. It was that kind of spirit that was
engendered there. All the people had it. It was a magnificent place to be--a lot of fun. And you
felt good about it.

RY: Are there any other questions I should ask that I haven‟t, or any other comments you wish to

BB: Oh I don‟t think so. It‟s just that Ulster is very important; it has been, and as I told you, I
loved every day that I was there. Many people asked why did I retire and I said that I thought it
was time for other people to come in to provide leadership after 24-25 years. And it is. It is
good to change, but you miss it. You miss the people; you miss part of being something that‟s
very important in your own life as well as the lives of others. So it is very special.

I have an opportunity to be in charge of, be responsible for all the community colleges in New
York State right now, and this story is repeated over and over and over; and one of the great
frustrations I have is that I can‟t convince some of the powers-that-be how important and how
effective community colleges are. I keep trying, and I‟ll keep doing it. I think we sold a lot of
people. We sold our (SUNY) Board of Trustees. They always vote on the community college
budget first; they always make sure that we are paying attention to the community colleges. But
we still have a long way to go at least in this state. That‟s probably because of the rich mix of
colleges we have in New York State. But it‟s important.

Ulster has fulfilled a niche, that if people went back to l963, I think that‟s when the referendum
was, they just wouldn‟t believe the difference between l963 and now…what has happened…how

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many people have been through….how many people were helped; they just wouldn‟t be able to
believe it. It was wonderful being part of it. I feel that I‟ve chosen a worthwhile career. And
I‟m still at it. Community colleges are special. And this college is very special to me, as is
Orange. Orange has a very positive feeling for me because I was very young, and how helpful
they were! I‟ve always told them, especially when I‟m meeting with faculty, that if it wasn‟t for
them, I wouldn‟t be here, where I am today.
It‟s interesting that not too many years ago Orange County CC…we have one newspaper that‟s
adjoining, was running ads to get students that said Bob Brown is a graduate of Orange
Community College and a president of Ulster County Community College. Our Board of
Trustees would bring it to the meeting with them. And I‟d say, “what are you doing?” I didn‟t
place the ad…they‟re using me…..! (Laughter)
But they are special places and I‟m just happy to be part of it.

RY: I thank you very much. The community colleges actually are very fortunate to have had you
involved for a good share of your career.
Are there any interesting colleagues that you suggest we should talk to?

BB: You probably have a list of them. Neal (Robbins) himself would be one; Jim Fitzgibbons at
Hudson Valley, Al Ammerman down in Suffolk; Fred Misner of Ulster; I know he had a stroke,
but he might be a good colleague to speak with. You‟ve probably covered most of them.
Trustees? None of our original trustees are around…although yes, Roger Mabie, who was one of
our original advocates, a graduate of Harvard, and an advocate of community colleges.

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