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The University Magazine


Remembering the man behind the bricks

President Mark Ellingson, center, studies a model of the proposed campus with C. B. Neblette, left, the first director of RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences. The man at right is identified only as “Quellmaltz.” If anyone can provide more information about him, please e-mail editor Kathy Lindsley at (RIT Archives photo)

The fall 2008 University Magazine article, “Forty years  on the New Campus,” was a tribute to the achievement of a remarkable man, President Mark Ellingson.

For me, it brought back fond memories. In the late 1920s, I was the captain of the East High School wrestling team. At that time, the forerunner of RIT, Mechanics Institute, was located in downtown Rochester. Mark Ellingson was a faculty member and wrestling coach and I became acquainted with him because we would practice with the team. I recall that Mr. Ellingson would actually get on the mat and practice with us.

Mr. Ellingson was very friendly to us and approachable. Obviously he had great ability as an administrator as well as a coach. The present RIT is the product of this remarkable and talented individual.   

Morris J. Shapiro, M.D.

I read your magazine with interest and was particularly attracted to the Forty years on the New Campus (Fall 2008) article. I came to RIT in 1965 as its first personnel (human resources) director. I remember well the move and the mud and barren landscape was certainly a factor. I seem to recall plywood sheets and wood pallets laid down in the mud before the walkways were in place. It was a challenge just getting to work from the parking areas.

There was no reserved parking and President Mark Ellingson walked in along with students, faculty and staff. I was a part of the new campus dedication committee in 1969 and we were fortunate to secure Bob Hope to emcee the entertainment and celebration party. He was great, as usual.

The vision and devotion of Dr. Ellingson, Frank Benz, Al Davis and many others brought the campus to a reality that has continually blossomed and grown into a most prestigious university.

Everett Merritt
Keuka Lake, N.Y., and Pinehurst, N.C.   

Wow! Finally got around to reading the fall issue and what a flood of memories came rushing back! After postponing the move to the new campus for two years, we finally made it, albeit with no carpet in rooms, no glass in building windows, and great spirit on the part of our Orientation Team. The photo on the Table of Contents page shows Neil Gorfain, who was our student Orientation chairman, talking with me and a group of new students. One of Neil’s greatest contribution to that and future orientations was the supply of lollipops for all parents, students old and new, and staff, with the motto “You can’t help smiling with a lollipop in your mouth.”

It really calmed down many frayed nerves. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane.

Deanne Molinari, director of housing 1965 – 1972
Fairport, N.Y.

Dancing with the Duke

I recognized many Sigma Pi’s in the From the Archives photo of the Fall 2008 issue. I remember the event very well as I served as chairman of the May 11, 1963, dance. The weekend was entitled “Spring Bookend” and had a literature theme. The Saturday dance, “Opus Fictionale,” featured Duke Ellington and his orchestra in Midtown Plaza. Over 1,500 students partied in the first-ever off-campus dance. The only major challenge I had was finding a concert grand piano for The Duke. I finally borrowed one from the Eastman School of Music.

Ron Sokolowski ’64 (photography) was pubic relations chairman for the weekend. Mr. Campus was Jim Williams ’64 (printing) and Miss RIT was Sue Heacock.

Great times!!!!!

Ron Mihills ’65 (photography)
Irvington, Va.

In the latest issue of The University Magazine, there was a picture of 1963 Spring Weekend.

I was there with my husband to be, as were all of our RIT friends. Our best friends got engaged that night (William K. Butler ’63, electrical engineering, and Susan Hughes, who was not an RIT student). 

My ticket (#183, which I still have) said “The Spring Weekend Committee of the Rochester Institute of Technology cordially invites you to attend Opus Fictionale at the Midtown Plaza Mall on May 11, 1963, at Nine O’Clock in the evening.” The price was $4.

My 1964 Techmila says that more than 1,500 people attended.

I remember it well, and having worked at McCurdy’s at the Midtown Plaza for all my work blocks, I am sad to see the end of the plaza. Thanks for printing the picture – it brought back a lot of memories.

Bonnie A. McKean Yetter ’64 (retailing)
Joplin, Mo.

We welcome letters on subjects covered in the magazine and of broad interest to our readers, as long as they are respectful and not insulting to any individual or group. We publish as many as we can, subject to space limitations. We edit for space, clarity, and style. Write to The University Magazine, University News Services, Rochester Institute of Technology, 132 Lomb Memorial Drive – Bldg. 86, Rochester, NY 14623. E-mail can be sent to