Enter at ‘loading dock’

Editor’s note: This is a series of columns by John Malcolm on his “50 years at Fredonia.” Retired, he is a professor emeritus at Fredonia State.

To enter McEwen Hall, you have to look carefully for an open door.

Most of the doors are locked for convenience and security purposes. I suppose the original plan was to have students enter from the terrace level and through connecting passages from the library. As it turns out the most popular entrance is through the “loading dock”. (Thompson Hall has the same problem.) One solution might be to extend the “grand” staircase connecting the second and first floors to the ground level.

Next you must find the lecture halls that are on three different levels. At some other SUNY units the plan placed the entrances to the halls on the same level with the halls radiating from a central core – a blessing for those who have to maintain or help operate them. The halls were all given the very latest in technical presentation equipment. There were elaborate rear-screen projection systems for slides and film. It was hoped that these systems could be watched over by a qualified operator/technician but future budget cuts would not allow this particularly at Fredonia, where three individuals would be required.

The engineers who designed the systems had the best intentions, like the road to hell. But their “camel” (a horse designed by a committee) was very difficult for the average faculty member. To utilize the systems one had to access a projection room that on the ground and second floors were on another level. One had the choice of spiral staircases, a single elevator, or a long walk through the halls.

The spiral staircases often provided comic relief in that faculty would often confuse the room they were in. You can imagine a faculty member changing the slides of a colleague during their presentations. One incident almost came to blows. While the slide projectors were standard Kodak Carousels they were mounted on a high intensity light source that exploded into life when a relay was pushed.

The film projectors were very complicated to thread and were seldom used. Finally boxes to place self-threading projectors were placed in the halls themselves.

John Malcolm is a Fredonia resident.