Old Westbury Oral History Project

xperiments a digital history of SUNY College at Old Westbury’s early years, features filmed oral histories, transcripts, photographs, and primary documents.  Founded as an experimental college, SUNY College at Old Westbury, opened its doors in 1968 at a nearby location, Planting Fields, a former Long Island Gold Coast estate, now state park. The college, as conceptualized by the SUNY Board of Trustees, intended to allow independent study and enroll non-traditional students.  Students were involved in the initial planning phase, from 1966 to 1968—even in questions of physical plant and curriculum.  Turmoil at the college, reflective of the tumult in U.S. society, particularly on college and university campuses, brought the initial experiment to a conclusion.  From there the College at Old Westbury was reorganized under the direction of a new president.  The “New College at Old Westbury” drew inspiration from the struggles between students and administration. Its goals, as articulated in the 1972 College Catalog, were to draw “students with a strong concern for social justice,” and to enroll “those previously bypassed by higher education,” so as to achieve “universal access of higher education by every citizen who desires it.”

     In keeping with this mission, one that continues to this day, the digital history, Experiments: Old Westbury Oral History Project, seeks to bring the multiple voices of the College’s past to a broad audience through a multimedia, web-based experience.  Experiments currently offers oral history video interview clips and full transcripts of former students, faculty, and the College’s first two presidents.  Experiments also provides access to primary documents that locate the oral histories within a broader context.  Students and recent alumni have been crucial to the video, sound, and editing work; alumni from the College’s first days have also contributed to the site’s resources.



he project staff would like to thank the following parties, for supporting the development of the oral history-digital archive Experiments: Old Westbury Oral History Project

      Jon Angel, Alumnus, Photography
      Sherry Baker, TV Station Manager, College at Old Westbury, Technical Advisor
      Marco Battistella, Makeko Inc.
      Penny Chin, Director of Alumni Affairs, College at Old Westbury
      Barbara Hillery, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, College at Old Westbury
      Stephen Kirkpatrick, Library Director, College at Old Westbury
      Pritpal Kainth, Institutional Advancement, College at Old Westbury
      Leslie Knipe, Manager of Publications, Art Director, Senior Designer, College at Old Westbury
      Catherine Long, Alumnus, Video Production
      Sabrina Lucien, Student, Post-Production
      Tom Murphy, Director of Sponsored Programs, College at Old Westbury
      Akeel Nelson, Alumnus, Video Production
      Patrick O’Sullivan, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, College at Old Westbury
      Lawrence Sapadin, Alumnus, Photography
      Lois Stergiopoulus, American Studies Administrator
      Priyanka Suri, Alumnus, Production Assistant
      Gilda Zwerman, Professor, Sociology Department.
      Members of American Studies 5800 “Research Seminar in U.S. History and Culture,” who
      contributed to our participant biographies: Annalie Rose Baumann, Denisha Brown,
      Mike Dunn, Claudia M. Finkle, Joanne Haddigan, Enrique Gonzalez, Sarah Khalily,
      James Ridley, and Liz Tomlinson.
      Bruce Weniger, Alumnus, Photography

We would also like to thank those who contributed financially, making this endeavor possible:

      The Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
      The Office of the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences
      The College at Old Westbury Foundation
      SUNY Office of the Provost, for its “Explorations in Diversity
      and Academic Excellence Initiative”

And of course all our participants, who generously shared their stories.


Rights: Except where otherwise noted, content in this site is licensed by the Old Westbury Oral History Project under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. More information available at: Creative Commons Licenses