The University at Albany, my library school alma mater, has undergone tremendous changes in its nearly 170 years. It started as a Normal Schoolcharter member of the State University of New York (SUNY) when the system began in 1948, and the school expanded its mission beyond teacher education to a broader liberal arts university in the 1960s.
The campus on the border of city of Albany proper has an ever-expanding uptown facility, built, I’ve discovered, on the former site of the Albany Country Club. When I went to graduate school in the School of Public Administration back in 1979, my classes were all in the uptown campus, a large and sprawling locale with bad signage. That campus was a location for the 1981 movie Rollover, a truly terrible film with Kris Kristofferson and Jane Fonda, because of its “resemblance to modern Middle Eastern architecture.”
When I went to library school in 1990, however, I attended the older, and more civilized, downtown campus, which was right-sized for me with only a half dozen academic buildings. I did have to trek occasionally uptown, but buses shuttle between the two campuses regularly.
Since I graduated, the university has become even larger, with more buildings on the uptown campus. An east campus, in neighboring Rensselaer County was developed by purchasing a former pharmaceutical company complex, which focuses on biotechnology. Possibly most notably, there is the ironically massive College of Nanotechnology, which has literally altered the landscape of Washington Avenue Extension. Recently, the nanotech has been spun off into its own school, despite the opposition of former UAlbany president Karen Hitchcock, whose opinion on this issue I share.
Some of the many famous alumni of the university have included Harvey Milk (1951), the openly gay former San Francisco city supervisor who was assassinated in 1978; authors Joseph E. Persico (1952), biographer of Edward R. Murrow, Nelson Rockefeller, William Casey; and Gregory Maguire (1976), author of Wicked; and actors Edward Burns, Harold Gould (1947), Steve Guttenberg, and D. B. Woodside (1991).