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Records of the Associated Colleges of Upper New York

Call Number



1946-1954, inclusive


Associated Colleges of Upper New York.


2.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.


The Associated Colleges of Upper New York (ACUNY) was New York State's answer to the nationwide dilemma of assimilating World War II veterans into the educational system. This collection contains the papers of Harold O. Voorhis, Vice-Chancellor and Secretary of NYU, in his role in acting-Trustee for ACUNY in the stead of Chancellor Harry Chase.

History of ACUNY

The Associated Colleges of Upper New York (ACUNY), 1946-1951, was New York State's answer to the nationwide dilemma of assimilating World War II veterans into the educational system. The organization owed its beginnings chiefly to New York State Governor Thomas Dewey. In March 1946 the Governor held a conference of 85 New York State college presidents to evaluate the issue. Earlier studies by the State Education Department found that the existing colleges could not sufficiently absorb the anticipated 100,000 veterans seeking college-level education under the G.I. Bill of Rights.

ACUNY was a joint venture between the state and private colleges of New York. Under the auspices of the Governor, the State Education Department, and ten college presidents, ACUNY received its charter from the Board of Regents on May 17, 1946. The charter awarded ACUNY nonprofit status and set its objective to provide the first two years of college for any qualified veteran who was rejected from one of the state's four-year colleges because of "insufficient housing, overcrowded classrooms and lack of instructional staff."

Expediency was necessary in order to insure that the emergency facilities were established and ready to function by the fall semester 1946. The temporary Army and Navy facilities of upstate New York held enough housing and classroom space to alleviate overcrowding. The military sites chosen were the United States Naval Training Center (Sampson College, opened September 15, 1946), Rhoads Hospital (Mohawk College, opened October 16, 1946) and Fort Plattsburg (Champlain College, opened September 23, 1946). In February 1947 another center was launched in Middletown at the request of the community.

In July 1946, Dr. John S. Allen, Executive Director of Higher Education, and Dr. J. Hillis Miller, Associate Commissioner of Education, realized that New York City was heavily affected by the problem. ACUNY agreed to extend its trusteeship to include eight New York metropolitan college presidents as well as the Superintendent of Schools in New York City, John Wade. Vice-Chancellor and Secretary of NYU, Harold Voorhis served as acting-Trustee for Chancellor Harry Chase, who was preoccupied with NYU's Medical Center campaign. Edmund Day, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, ACUNY, appointed Voorhis Chairman of the Special Committee to investigate the New York City situation. In January 1947 the Committee reported that the establishment of an emergency college in the city was unnecessary.

Originally, ACUNY was to cease operation July 1, 1948; the emergency was only expected to last two years. But the charter was extended twice: once in 1948 for an additional year, and again in 1949 for an additional two years. ACUNY's President, Asa Knowles, left his post after the initial two-year period. Frederick A. Morse, the Executive Assistant for Higher Education in the State Education Department, was elected the new president by the Board of Trustees.

Under Morse, a new attitude developed at ACUNY; the institution actively sought prospective college students rather than supplementing the existing universities. It began sending out faculty members as recruiters to high schools and published an illustrated booklet.

The fates of the colleges differed. Mohawk College closed in June 1948, and Sampson College closed in June 1949. Champlain College went on to become the first liberal arts college of the State University of New York, and Middletown became a two-year community college. Overall, ACUNY's existence was successful despite the short-lived civil rights complaints of the faculty and students of Sampson in the spring of 1948. After the first two years of its existence, ACUNY managed to transfer its qualified students to four-year colleges to finish their college careers.


Gilbert, Amy. ACUNY: The Associated Colleges of Upper New York. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1950.


Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject/author heading then chronologically within each subject/author heading.

The files are grouped into two series:

Missing Title

  1. ACUNY
  2. Metropolitan Survey

Scope and Content Note

The ACUNY records of the Voorhis collection span from 1946 to 1952 with a single document dated January 7, 1954. The collection is fairly complete, especially between 1947 and 1948. Materials include copies of convocation exercises, clippings, student bulletins, and correspondence between Trustees, ACUNY personnel, and college presidents and officials. Their letters illustrate the decision to extend the charter, the evolution of the State University system, and the ability and concern of these officials in time of an educational crisis. Minutes and financial and research reports have very few gaps. They date from the first formal minutes of the Board of Trustees (June 17, 1946) to the accountants' final Report on Examination (August 6, 1946 - May 25, 1951).

ACUNY was respected for its academic excellence but there were tensions within the system. The problems generally involved Sampson College. In April 1947, Dr. Chauncey Louttit, Dean of Faculty, Sampson, was forced to resign. There are newspaper clippings of the dissatisfaction with housing, the food service, and the fear of communist influence. A small group of students claimed that the administration wire-tapped their phones, illegally searched their rooms and censored their newspaper. The faculty resented their posts being terminated because of the decrease in enrollment, which was a result of the college's closing in June 1949.

Access Restrictions

Materials are open without restrictions.

Use Restrictions

This collection is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use materials in the collection in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known); Records of the Associated Colleges of Upper New York; MC 82; box number; folder number; New York University Archives, New York University Libraries.

Location of Materials

New York University Archives


The records were accessioned to the University Archives in March 1975.

Collection processed by

Donna Cartelli.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 17:55:01 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from a paper finding aid.


New York University Archives
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