‘Magnificent’ plans not perfect

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.

The conversion of the college to an arts and science status made the problem of justification of a teaching program unnecessary.

More and more of the majors took a new bachelor of arts program until the teaching major was serving only one or two students in a class. A typical major took a course in beginning and advanced public speaking, debate, play production, acting, directing, oral interpretation, radio and television. A co-listing with English included dramatic literature.

Under the new program the basic speech course was no longer required for non-majors and enrollment went down. Irvine N. Smith, the theater man, to his credit, designed a basic overhaul that made the course attractive in its own right and sections filled. It appeared that new faculty would be needed to handle the load.

An effort was made in the late ’60s to save the teaching program now down to one major. A dual speech-English degree was proposed and accepted. It was a rigorous program with few electives but it did attract students. It was popular with schools since most wanted an English teacher to handle extracurricular activities such as debate or theatre.

In the late ’60s the future looked bright. New buildings including a magnificent theater, radio and television studios, photography and film areas, and special classrooms for speech were on the drawing board. New faculty were hired and programs to fit the buildings were planned.

Unfortunately for radio and television a definite bias existed for theater in the administration. Some said it was influenced by the facilities.

Radio and television would be service areas run by the newly created Instructional Resources Center. The radio and television studios remained virtually unused because the Center worked almost exclusively on the development of self-instruction modules. (The ground floor lecture room adjacent to the library was turned into a full lab for programmed instruction. It also included a massive telephone “switch” for dial in instruction-cutting edge for the time.)

Any courses offered on the graduate level included television and radio as units within large structures. Separate courses in radio and television ended for a time.

John Malcolm is a Fredonia resident.