Associated Colleges of Upper New York
Hobart, Plattsburgh, and Utica, NY
There is still a website devoted to Champlain College, so the school still exists in the memories of its alumni and in the photos posted online. In addition, librarians at the present SUNY-Plattsburgh were most helpful in providing photos from their collection of ACUNY yearbooks for both Champlain and Mohawk colleges. A Sampson College yearbook has been digitized for Ancestry.com. The best material of the three schools comes from ACUNY, The Associated Colleges of Upper New York by Amy M. Gilbert, who served as Dean of the colleges.
The Associated Colleges of Upper New York were created at the end of World War II. Their purpose was to provide educational opportunities for returning servicemen, denied admission to existing schools because of overcrowding. The schools were originally intended to operate for two years to educate the initial wave of returning veterans. The three campuses had identical two-year programs of study: Pre-Engineering, Liberal Arts or Business Administration. These programs were intended to provide a foundation, allowing students to transfer to a four-year program.
The U.S. Defense Department decommissioned three military bases to serve as temporary campuses—the Plattsburgh Barracks, the Naval Training Center at Hobart, and the Rhoads General Hospital near Utica.
Life on the ACUNY campuses was determined by the fact that with the exception of a few married students, the student body was composed of young males living in more-or-less isolated military installations. As a result, the campuses were filled with organizations, clubs, and societies catering to student interests and talents. Religious organizations were Student Christian Association, Newman Club and Hillel Foundation; there were French, German, Italian and Spanish Clubs; hobby clubs included chess, photography, radio, skiing, and skating. All campuses had yearbooks and newspapers. All had concert bands and orchestras, glee clubs, drama, debate and public speaking programs as well as art and literary societies. As many veterans had a strong interest in self-government, Student Council was strong and active.
The initial absence of coeds on the campuses, led to importations of females for the big campus social events. It also led to an active effort to recruit female students.
Again, given the makeup of the student body at each campus, athletic competition was keen. Each campus fielded intercollegiate teams in football, lacrosse, soccer, cross country, basketball, swimming, baseball, track and field, tennis, and golf. Though the players were inexperienced at the college level and the schools had no athletic traditions into which players could be molded, the teams enjoyed at least modest success against smaller schools in the region. In addition, the three schools had their own conference, in which the competition was keen.
Utica, New York
The second of the ACUNY schools to open, Mohawk began classes on October 21, 1946. On a campus with a capacity of just over 2,200 students, Mohawk enrolled 1,973.
While there were no resident co-eds enrolled, Mohawk was located near a metropolitan area, allowing for a more varied social life.
Mohawk College operated for the expected two years. At that time, enrollment trends showed that ACUNY could operate using only two campuses, so Mohawk was no longer essential. On June 30, 1948, it ceased to exist, and its students were sent to Sampson or Champlain.
Bricks and Mortar
Begun in November 1942, the Rhoads General Army Hospital was completed in eight months and was ready to receive patients in August 1943. It first contained 150 buildings connected by covered ramps. Later 30 more buildings were added. Before its closure in 1946, Rhoads handled more than 25,000 wounded soldiers from the North African and European theaters of war.
In “A Unique Partnership: Utica’s Wartime Community and Rhoads General Hospital,” Ruth Weiderhold notes that two of the buildings—the gymasium and the chapel—are still in community use. According to a 2009 entry in the Utica Observer-Dispatch, the Rhoads General Army Hospital is now gone. The 165-acre area it once occupied is now the Utica Business Park with a Holiday Inn, Notre Dame Junior and Senior High Schools, and the Elihu Root Army Reserve Center.
The Mohawk campus contained 53 classrooms, located in 28 of the buildings. In addition to classrooms, the hospital structure provided housing for faculty and students and buildings for other essential campus services. The diagram above shows the layout of the campus. (ACUNY, The Associated Colleges of Upper New York <babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015023513784;view=1up;seq=248>) accessed 1-22-2017
Team name: Warriors
Mohawk College played football both years of its existence, although it obviously suffered from a late school start in 1946 and lack of upper classmen or experienced players. Its primary opposition was fellow emergency college opponents Champlain, Sampson and Devens. The 1948 Calumet showed that the 1947 squad compiled a 2-6 record. Victories were over Champlain and Sampson. Losses were to freshman teams from Army and Colgate, to varsity teams from Boston U, Cortland State, and Ithaca. There was also a conference loss to Devens.
1947 Mohawk Warriors, (Image from Calumet, courtesy of SUNY-Plattsburgh library)