Growth, change, communication: Cornell staff 1950s-80s

The three decades following World War II were characterized by rapid growth in the 1950s, social and political turmoil in the 1960s and economic inflation in the 1970s. During this period, Cornell faced the same challenges and these events had their effects on staff life.

Educating and employing veterans added energy to campus and to staff life in the 1950s. In his introduction to the 1952 “You and Cornell,” President Deane Malott wrote that most employees work at Cornell because the university “is more than a place of employment.” Among Cornell’s benefits, Malott enumerated the opportunity to take courses, to engage such social events and to learn skills and trades on the job. In addition to the dairy store, Cornell had its own meat store: Employees could buy meat in the basement of Wing Hall from lambs, pigs and beef raised for the animal science department. The store moved to Morrison Hall in 1961.

The first annual service recognition dinner was held in 1955, and the 1957 booklet on “General Information for Faculty and Staff” noted that employees receive three weeks of vacation, retirement is required at age 65, and benefits include group medical and accident insurance and tuition scholarships for employees’ children.

The university’s growth created need for parking and improved campus transportation; the 1965 Report of the President noted that two new parking lots were added and a fleet of seven shuttle buses employed. Also in 1965, a Cornell Newsletter was begun to keep faculty and staff advised of news on campus. As a result of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the personnel department was designated to handle draft or military concerns. Growth in administration included the formation of an Office of Institutional Studies in 1965 and, in 1966, the Office of Computer Services and the Office of Public Information, the latter led by the head of the news bureau.

In the wake of events leading up to and following the 1969 takeover of Willard Straight, several other administrative positions were created: Joseph Bugliari was appointed the university’s first judicial administrator; Alice Cook became the first university ombudsman.

Replacing the Cornell Newsletter, the Cornell Chronicle