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Class of 1954...


Returning from summer break in 1952, the Class of ’54 was greeted by a lanky, Lincolnesque Midwesterner who had just been chosen to succeed Harry N. Wright as the College’s president. Dr. Buell G. Gallagher was officially inaugurated as the seventh President of City College on February 19, 1953 before 2,100 public officials, university delegates, faculty members and invited students. In his inaugural address, he denounced outside pressure on education declaring that “the people’s right to know is key to all our liberties.”

In addition to a new College President, the Class of 1954 witnessed many changes on CCNY’s campus. The campus grew by eighteen-and-a-half acres stretching from 130th to 135th streets, creating the South Campus. The student cafeteria opened a new bakeshop and the ancient Army Hall dormitories were shut down. The downtown center was renamed the Bernard M. Baruch School of Business and Public administration in honor of Bernard M. Baruch, a distinguished businessman and alumnus of CCNY. In addition naming the downtown center after him, the Class of 1954 devoted their Lexicon to Mr. Baruch.

As the College improved its facilities, it also opened its doors to new students. In September 1951, the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences became co-ed. It was the last school in City College to welcome women. Dorothy Schnabel ’54 was the first women to join the Electrical Engineering honor fraternity, Eta Kappa Nu, and also the first co-ed to hold a badge in the engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi. In May 1954, the College’s newspaper, The Campus elected its first women editor-in-chief, Francine Marcus ’55.

Students and faculty joined to survey the College in the first All-College Conference. Over a thousand participated in a series of panels on all aspects of College affairs. Student Council President Joseph Clancy was first to conceive of this project, which was carried out by the student-faculty committee.

During their four years at City College, the Class of ’54 attended many social affairs. There were numerous Lewisohn Stadium concerts, Carnival and House Plan. The Farewell Ball for the Class of 1954 was held at the Hotel Astor. The Senior Prom included dining at the Hotel St. Moritz and dancing on the Astor Roof. The Business School held their prom in the Colonnades Room in Essex House.

Several prominent speakers addressed the CCNY Community. President Harry S. Truman spoke at the Alumni Association’s annual dinner and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to a great number of CCNY students and faculty gathered in the Great Hall. Lilly Christine, known in burlesque houses and 1950’s men’s magazines as the “Cat Girl,” toured the campus. Senator Herbert Lehman (D., NY) also visited the College.

The Class of ’54 bore witness to the biggest sports controversy in the College’s history. After winning the 1950 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball and the 1950 National Invitation Tournament, it was uncovered that four CCNY players shaved points in exchange for money. The basketball players were arrested and City College was banned from playing at Madison Square Garden and moved from Division I to Division III.

While basketball and most sports at the College were beset by various maladies and mishaps, the College’s soccer team, the Lavenders won four Metropolitan Intercollegiate Championships and several players made City and All-American all star teams. The Beaver baseball team won the Metropolitan Conference Championship in 1953 for the first time in history. The swimming team also managed to provide added laurels to the prominence of Lavender athletic squads by capturing their first City Championship in 1954. The Class of ’54 produced some of the finest individual records in wrestling with sterling performances from Dave Lesky, Jerry Steinberg, and Bernie Lloyd.

Many of these class notes are excerpted from the 1954 Microcosm, Editor-in-Chief Edward Swietnicki and the 1954 Lexicon, Co-Editors Herbert W. Brody and Richard G. Karp.




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