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Late ’60s panel offers insight on University’s past

By : Steve Seepersaud

Alumni who earned their degrees during the late 1960s recently reflected on what was a unique period in the history of Harpur College. At panel discussions during Homecoming, graduates and retired professors talked about Harpur’s past and present as well as the activism of its students.

When panelist Alex Huppé attended Harpur, the college was enduring two transitions:  a shift to a trimester schedule and the addition of graduate programs. 

“There was a fear of what bigness and graduate programs would mean to Harpur College,” said Huppé, a 1969 graduate and son of the late Proffesor Bernard F. Huppé. “With the introduction of trimesters, there was a speed-up. Harpur became more factory-like.” 

“It was really kind of exhausting,” said Gerald Kadish, distinguished teaching professor of history. “If you had the stamina to teach four straight trimesters without a break, you got two trimesters off with pay.”

During those fast-paced years of the trimester experiment, there wasn’t much student activism; however, the campus culture changed after Ohio national guardsmen fatally shot several students at Kent State University in May 1970. 

“That’s what really ended the indifference on campus,” said Ivan Charner, a 1970 graduate. “Lots of colleges closed at that time. We didn’t do that. We refocused on education.”

David Hagerbaumer, director of campus life, said the spirit of activism has changed but is still alive in the students of today.

“We had one of the largest Relay for Life events in the country,” he said. “Student volunteerism has reached a level I would’ve never imagined.  It’s a new kind of activism.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08