Copies of the commemorative volume will be available beginning Thursday

HOPEWELL — In the summer of 1972, rumors were rampant throughout Canandaigua that John Lennon, of Beatles fame, would make an appearance at an upcoming music festival at Lincoln Hill in Hopewell.

Thousands of people — mostly students at Community College of the Finger Lakes — descended on the grounds, causing local traffic jams and leaving behind lots of garbage — in what would later be dubbed a “mini Woodstock,” after the 1969 music and art fair that drew about 500,000 people (100 times more than the Lincoln Hill crowd) to a small Sullivan County community.

Lennon never showed, but the tale is one of many in the storied history of what is now called Finger Lakes Community College and sits on the same hill, near the concert site that eventually became Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center.

Jessica Youngman, FLCC public relations and events coordinator, said she really enjoyed writing the story of CMAC's evolution for a new book on the college's history called “This Bold Decision: The Story of Finger Lakes Community College.”

She and Lenore Friend, FLCC director of community affairs, worked closely with graphic designer Sarah Butler, writing and designing the book being released Thursday to coincide with celebrations of the college's 50th anniversary of offering daytime, credit-bearing classes, beginning on Feb. 1, 1968.

Friend said the discussion on producing a golden anniversary commemorative book began shortly after the 40th anniversary and was originally spearheaded by Robert Matson, who died in November 2012.

She pored through minutes from 50 years of meetings of the board of trustees while Youngman scoured volumes of clipped articles from area newspapers to come up with a timeline and basic ideas of milestone events and interesting history to include in what became a 124-page publication. 

Butler later accepted a job to help her husband run Main Street Arts gallery in Clifton Springs, but simultaneously saw the FLCC project through to fruition.

“She laid out this whole book, and it wouldn't be what it is without Sarah,” Youngman said.

“She made a lot of the artistic decisions,” added Friend. “She put so much thought into it. It is, in addition to a literary piece, it's an art piece because of the time and the attention she spent selecting the layout, the fonts, the ink and the cover.”

Gold ink, reflective of the golden anniversary, is used throughout the book to highlight chapters that tell the stories of the college and its people. A continuous timeline at the bottom of each page is also laid out against a gold background and includes significant national historical and cultural such as the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 1970 shooting deaths of four Kent State University students by the National Guard in Ohio.

“It was also a great way to include a lot of milestones like building openings and the introduction of different degree programs so we could save the main part of the book for anecdotes and photos,” Friend said, “just to keep it more lively and make it something students would read.”

The title was culled from an excerpt of the inauguration speech of Roy Satre, the college's first president, and a nod to the 1965 vote by the Ontario County Board of Supervisors to establish a local community college, a relatively new concept in the 1960s.

While the book covers events through 2017, a great deal of its focus — by design — is on the earlier years.

Youngman was intrigued with student activism, sit-ins and protests against the Vietnam War — all hallmarks of college life in FLCC's early years.

In fact, students protested the inauguration of the the college's first president because of an appearance by U.S. Army Gen. Lewis Hershey, who was head of the Selective Service System and opposed to draft dodgers and the burning of draft cards.

“Everything was peaceful and we never had a confrontation,” Youngman said. “That ended up being a story in the book because we just thought it was such a compelling time and transformative for society, but it definitely showed itself here on campus.”

Other favorite stories center on Alice Fedder, the first librarian, who started a reference center from scratch, beginning in a small house on Parrish Street; Emily Bloom, who took a $2,000 pay cut — hefty for the time — to start the nursing program; and Kathy Trautman, a young mother who was the first to sign up for classes.

Trautman, as the book notes, was so excited to sign up for classes she showed up a week early and ended up being first in line when the actual enrollment day arrived. She continued taking classes intermittently while raising a family, finally accumulating enough credits to graduate in 1990.

“We love the story of our first student, Kathy Trautman,” said Friend. “She just wanted to learn. She was not out to get a degree. Every time she saw a class she thought would be valuable to her in her her job, she took it. She kind of embodies everything that FLCC strives to be — a place for people to better themselves.”

Among other major moments in the college's history were the purchase of land on Lincoln Hill and construction of a permanent campus which opened for classes in the fall of 1975; the construction of the Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center, known as “the Shell,” replaced by CMAC in 2006; the addition of adjacent residential halls owned and run by an affiliate foundation; the 2010 opening of a brand-new one-stop Student Life Center; complementing the theater program with a new auditorium; and the evolution of the athletics programs, which will change again with the upcoming installation of new turf fields.

Youngman said she found it interesting college founders had the foresight to collect every single newspaper clipping they found that mentioned the idea of a college.

“What we learned through is how important it is to save your institutional history,” said Friend. “There were a few years where newspapers weren't clipped, and it's amazing how just somebody not doing that for just a few years left this hole.”

She said students helped fill in the gaps by browsing older articles on microfilm.

Friend would like to maintain the timeline going forward and work with some offices and departments on record-keeping to have documentation for people putting together materials for the college's centennial.

 

If you go

WHAT: Release of commemorative book “This Bold Decision: The Story of Finger Lakes Community College” 

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 1 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the college offering daytime, credit-bearing classes 

COST: $18 

WHERE TO GET IT: At FLCC, 3325 Marvin Sands Drive, Hopewell; Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce, 113 S. Main St. Canandaigua; American Made, 143 S. Main St., Canandaigua; and Mobile Music, 163 S. Main St., Canandaigua; and online at give.flcc.edu

DETAILS: Contact the Community Affairs Office at 585-785-1623.