Associated Colleges of Upper New York
Hobart, Plattsburgh, and Utica, New York
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, the library of the present SUNY-Plattsburgh was most helpful in providing photos from their collection of ACUNY yearbooks for both Champlain and Mohawk. 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 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. Originally intended to operate for two years, the three campuses had identical two-year programs of study: Pre-Engineering, Liberal Arts and Business Administration. These programs were to provide a foundation that would allow students to transfer to a four-year school.
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.
Hobart, New York
A digital copy of the 1948 Senecan is included in the yearbook collection at Ancestry.com and also at e-yearbooks.com. Dean Amy Gilbert’s book remains the best history of Sampson College.
With an operating capacity of 5,900, Sampson College was the largest of the ACUNY schools and the last to open. It opened on October 28. 1946 with 2,500 students When it closed in June of 1949, it had matriculated 7,500 students and awarded a two-year degree to 1,500.
With an all-male student body in a rural area, Sampson made attempts through balls, carnivals, and a series of Seneca Hops to attract females to the campus.
Sampson student wives model coiffures (ACUNY, Associated Colleges of Upper New York, <babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b4519197;view=1up;seq=384>) accessed 10-4-1917
Bricks and Mortar
In 1942 the U.S. Navy acquired 2,600 acres on the east side of Lake Seneca to establish Sampson Naval Training Station. Built in 27 months, Sampson served as a basic training site, and by the end of World War II, 411,000 recruits had undergone training there. In 1946 Sampson was designated as a war asset and transferred to New York state. After the closure of Sampson College, the station was used by the Department of Agriculture as a grain storage depot. In 1949, New York established Sampson State Park.
At the onset of the Korean War, the U.S. Air Force assumed control of the facility and renovated it as Sampson Air Force Base. Since 1956 parts of the base have been used for non-military air training. Some of the buildings remain in a deteriorating condition. Sampson State Park still remains.
A postcard view of Sampson College campus with the Administration Building in the foreground. (<cardcow.com/462638/view-administration-building-showing-seneca-lake-background-sampson-college-new-york) Accessed 10-4-1917
Team Name: Senecas
Colors: Red and White
For the most part, Sampson teams did not enjoy success--especially against established programs.
The Senecas played football for three seasons—1946-1948. The 1947 team, compiled a 1-7 record, with only a win over Brockport State of Massachusetts 7-6. However, the Senecan points out that the team opened the season against Cortland State even before classes began and that the team gave a much better account of itself after it had had an opportunity to practice together. The team also lost to neighbor Hobart, Ithaca, the Colgate Frosh, and the Cornell JV’s. What hurt most were one-touchdown losses to Mohawk and Champlain.