Ellen Thurston '54 stands in front of a picture of her taken when was a Harpur College undergraduate. Thurston was among the alumni who attended the Harpur Quad and Wall of Excellence dedication.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Alumni ‘very proud’ of new Quad, Wall of ExcellenceTweet
The dedication of the new Harpur College Quad and Wall of Excellence on Oct. 13 attracted alumni who raised their glasses and toasted more than 60 years of Harpur’s dedication to excellence, while reflecting on the campus’ changes.
“Coming back here, I can’t recognize anything. I’m impressed,” says Dick Rogers ‘62. “Back then, we spent most of our time riding buses out into Endicott because that’s where all the food was. The only things out here were the gym classes.”
In addition to the lack of dining halls, Binghamton was also short on classrooms. The majority of students had to commute to Endicott, where classes were occasionally held in Quonset huts.
Despite the lack of buildings, the class of 1962 witnessed its own piece of Harpur history. “We were the first class to have residence halls,” recalls Linda Geer, a former foreign literature major at Harpur College. “We also had to walk to class on planks because of how bad the mud was.”
More than the structure of the campus, the alumni recall the experience Harpur provided them. “They were really into teaching and mentoring in Harpur,” says Elizabeth Stiegler ’62, a linguistics major. Looking at the alumni gathered and the Quad beyond them, she says: “I’m very, very proud.”
Along with the dedication of the Quad, the Wall of Excellence was also unveiled. Located near Jazzman’s Café in the Library Tower, the wall exhibits notable alumni, students, and professors. Video and audio is incorporated into the display, as well as a series of black-and-white photos from past yearbooks.
Ellen Thurston ‘54, observed at a picture of herself as a young woman in a fur coat, waving a Harpur flag. “The coat wasn’t even mine,” she confesses.
Graduating as a double major in Theatre and English, Thurston says that she had no idea what she wanted to do with her career. Fortunately, she has since gone on to find success in many different areas, and she attributes her ability to be multifaceted to her time spent at Harpur.
“Having a liberal arts degree really prepared me for it all,” she says.
Thurston now lives in Hudson, but makes trips to Binghamton about twice a year. Although she seems modestly embarrassed to be a featured part of Harpur history, Thurston looks at her picture and says with a smile: “I’m honored. I really am.”