By KIMBERLY WEINBERG
The headline inThe Era the morning of Oct. 16, 1962, was about as big a news story as Bradford
had had since Yuri Gagarin circled the earth the year before. “Pitt to Open Up
Area Campus Here” stretched across the top of the page in 100-point type.
years later, that announcement is still felt throughout the community and the
region, with the university serving as an economic engine, employer and source
of qualified employees.
lead-up to the announcement began a year before in November 1961, when the
University of Pittsburgh, expecting a mid-decade bulge in enrollment caused by
the Baby Boom, announced that it would establish regional campuses to handle
the influx of students.
Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce responded, sending a letter of interest to
Pitt. The movers and shakers of Bradford, with the backing of historic oil
money and industry, swung into action.
1962 announcement revealed that the community of Bradford had made some
substantial promises to Pitt to secure a campus, including an initial
enrollment of 100 students and agreeing to underwrite the costs of equipment,
facilities and operational losses for the first two years.
what it took to beat out other communities, which included Connellsville and
Kittanning. Greensburg and Titusville were the other two cities chosen.
regional campuses were part of then-Chancellor Edward Litchfield’s vision for
expanding the university, and he moved quickly to hire a president for
Pitt-Bradford, Dr. Donald Swarts, who had been the dean of academic affairs at
the Johnstown campus. (Unlike Pitt’s other regional campuses, the Johnstown
campus was established earlier, in 1923.)
was literally a one-man administration, taking on roles now provided by
multiple offices – including admissions, fundraising, human resources, academic
affairs and public relations. He recruited the students and the faculty and
spoke at fundraising events.
Swarts was the right person at the right time” to guide the fledgling
university, said Dr. Marvin Thomas, professor of history, who began teaching at
Pitt-Bradford in 1969.
Rizzo ’64-’66 grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and remembers being interviewed by
Swarts in the Biltmore Hotel in New York City, where he had traveled to recruit
students. He recruited Bill Krieg ’64-’66 at a college fair held in Dunkirk,
spring of ’63, a solid number was attached to the financial promises --
$542,015, or about $4 million in today’s money, would be needed to open the
would not have to raise the money by himself. Two volunteer boards were formed
to do the job: a temporary campaign committee led by Robert Williams and a
permanent Advisory Board led by J. Bertram Fisher, who was the head of Kendall
Refining and who would later engineer the gift of land by Kendall that became
the current campus.
like the Army veterans many of them likely were, they organized into divisions
and subdivisions, each with its own captain and campaigners.
came to Bradford and spoke at the kickoff dinner May 2, 1963, when the goal was
first announced before 375 potential donors at the Pennhills Club. The next
evening, WESB radio broadcast the chancellor’s message at 8 p.m.
I look into the future, one thing I am quite sure of,” Litchfield said. “Whatever
I predict tonight will look small in 1970 but will seem extreme to your right
painted a picture of a campus with 500 undergraduates, 1,500 students in adult
education and 400 part-time students. He talked about dormitories to house 200
students and 80 percent of Pitt-Bradford’s two-year students going on to earn
bachelor’s degrees at the University of Pittsburgh.
chairman Williams told those gathered, “We are not collecting tokens, but are
crowd took the bait and ran with it. Within a month and a half, the campaign
had exceeded its goal by nearly half.
was easy to get people to give because we had something good to sell,” said
Howard Fesenmyer, who worked on the campaign with his boss, Robert Galey, president
of Zippo Manufacturing Co.
gifts to the campaign ranged from $5 to $50,000, but much of the money was
raised by industry employees who gave through payroll deduction: $29,574 from
the employees of Dresser Manufacturing Division and another $50,000 from
Dresser itself; $634 from the employees of Hanley Co. and $5,000 more from the
company; and $11,471.90 from the employees of Kendall, along with $30,000 from
the company and $10,000 from Bert Fisher.
businesses gave generously: $1,000 each from Harold F. Goldstein Insurance,
McCourt Label Cabinet Co. and Goodbody & Co.; $600 from Goodman Pipe Corp.;
and $750 from Graham Florist. That was a lot of flowers.
individuals pledged $25 or $500 -- whatever they could spare from Miss Helen
Nusbaum working at The Bradford Era to Stephen and Marmie Hodges, whose son
David sculpted the Panther statue to be placed in the Robert B. Bromeley
Quadrangle for the campus’s 50th anniversary.
and grandchildren of those founders are now attending Pitt-Bradford, just as
they had hoped. And the Advisory Board and volunteers remain as enthusiastic
and as much a part of Pitt-Bradford’s success as they did at its beginning.
its history, the Advisory Board has taken all kinds of pride in the college,”
said Dr. Livingston Alexander, current president of Pitt-Bradford. “The zeal of
that first group has carried over into every generation since.”