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Throwback Thursday: Hey, Let’s Start a Campus

New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller lets fly with a shovelful of dirt on the 16th fairway of the Albany Country Club on Aug. 24, 1962. The occasion was the groundbreaking for the future Uptown Campus of the University at Albany. With him, from left, are Lt. Governor Malcolm Wilson, SUNY President Thomas Hamilton and UAlbany President Evan Revere Collins. (Photo courtesy of University Archives)

ALBANY, N.Y. (February 9, 2017) — New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s dream of a great state university system began to take shape in 1960, with a university center in Albany part of the grand plan. A site for a new campus that would allow the University’s enrollment to grow from 3,200 to more than 10,000, took a little doing, however.

Rockefeller rejected several sites, including what is now the Harriman Office Campus, in favor of the home of the Albany Country Club, founded in 1890. There was stiff resistance from golf club members and Albany Mayor Erastus Corning, but after Rockefeller applied a carrot — give me the country club and I’ll build you a state office complex (now Empire State Plaza) below the Capitol — and a stick — don’t give it to me and I’ll move the whole university out of Albany — “Rocky” got his campus.

The photo shows ground being broken on 8-24-62. By then, an architect had been chosen for the new campus: Edward Durell Stone. The first structures to open were some residence halls in Dutch Quad, in October 1964. The first academic buildings were occupied in Fall 1966. By early 1969, only Mohawk Tower and a few Lecture Centers were still unfinished. Total new campus cost: $130 million.

The Albany Country Club, meanwhile, was able to repair its divot and move to a splendid site in nearby Voorheesville.

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