Academic traditions continue growth

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.

I also spent a bit of time helping finish the restoration of the Fredonia 1891 Opera House, including the installation of stage lights and a sound system.

There is a short media presentation on my sabbatical to supplement the written report but I doubt if many have seen it.

You can be sure that there will be some kind of media supplement to this paper.

I was using the presidents of Fredonia as an outline and I haven’t done much on President Dennis Hefner. I only worked for him for three years and participated as Mace Bearer in his installation and two of the graduation exercises that he presided over.

Based on his tenure at Fredonia I would put him in the classification of a Leslie Gregory. He has gotten more “stuff” for this college and it is good stuff. He’s replaced the swimming pool, gotten a new recital hall, organized a remarkable rework of Cranston Hall plus numerous restoration projects like the roof of Mason Hall, a new heat transmission system, and many, many other physical projects. Who would have imagined a soccer stadium with Astroturf?

This doesn’t mean he let down on the academic side. Fredonia is consistently highly rated as the place to go to college – nay, it’s now called a university.

I wish he had pressed more for the use of radio and television. I had high hopes when one day he dropped into the Thompson TV Studio and I gave him a tour of what I called “Magic Land.”

That’s something else done in the last ten years. I taught basic TV studio production. By this time our cameras were in color and recording was a breeze. Not only that we had unlimited access.

I constantly pushed the students to stretch the resources. We could move the cameras outside to a small garden, use the loading dock as a platform, we could even do live remotes. One of my students, Kimberly Munn, who has gone onto great things, did a live remote of her giving blood in the Campus Center. We also did a live remote from the rear of the Marvel Theatre during a live production.

It is a big disappointment to me that with all the events on campus that few ever get sent to the public that is helping to pay for it. There are chinks in the armor with the use of computer transmission and hopefully there will be a revival of the enthusiasm I felt in the ’50s.

Just recently, I read about student Mike Reilly’s staging of an original play on Channel 12 in Erie. (In the 50-year retrospective.) Mike went on to a professional career in acting and appeared in a featured role in a network presentation of “Our Town.”

John Malcolm is a Fredonia resident.