Memories of downtown campus




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I came to RIT in 1955 as a freshman in the photo science department from my home in College Park, Md. Arriving at the Spring Street dorm, I found many willing hands to help me cart my belongings to a fourth-floor room. I remember that the iron stair posts were embossed with the letters “MA,” which I learned stood for the original name of the university: Mechanics Athenaeum.

The dorm rooms were spacious and as I recall housed either two or three students with a large “trunk room” in the back of the room. We photo students immediately saw the possibilities of the trunk room as a darkroom, and many were so converted which allowed us to complete some of our photo assignments on weekends. I had a tall, redheaded roommate from Worcester, Mass., named Carl Grusell, a printing student. Carl taught me how to ice skate so I could use the splendid RIT ice rink.

Use of any hot plate or cooking device was strictly prohibited in this old building, and it seemed to us that the electrical consumption was monitored for each room because if you plugged in anything hotter than an iron, an upperclassman hall monitor soon knocked on your door to threaten your eviction. However, many imaginative students would upend a clothes iron between two books and boil water for soup or coffee on a Griffin beaker “borrowed” from chemistry class.

After receiving my Associate of Applied Science degree in photographic science in 1957, I ran out of funds and decided to return to my home in College Park, Md., to try to make up my junior year at the University of Maryland. It was a little hard to find courses in a major university which could be transferred back to RIT for this purpose. I eventually took a full-time job and went to night school at American University in Washington, D.C., to complete the credits to return to RIT.

I returned to RIT in 1960 with credits for my junior year and graduated with my BS degree in photo science in June of 1961. In subsequent years, I worked as a senior photographic engineer at GAF (Ansco) Corp. in Binghamton and also for Memorex in Santa Clara, Calif. I have been retired since 1997.

I have never been able to visit “Brick City,” but I do try to follow the developments in your excellent magazine. I know that neither I nor anyone I knew in 1960 could possibly have imagined the complexity and quality of today’s RIT.

- David C. Luehrman '61 (graphic arts and photography)

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Write us with your memories as RIT prepares to celebrate 50 years on the Henrietta campus in 2018. Or send your thoughts on other topics covered in the magazine to umag@rit.edu. We edit for space, clarity and style.