Skip to main content

CM-02: Richmond College Records Collection

Identifier: CM-02

Scope and Contents

Richmond College Records Collection consists of ten series including administrative records, academic affairs records, student affairs records, alumni affairs records, public relations and media, events records, historical records, photographs, realia and grounds records.


  • 1963-1978

Conditions Governing Use

The researcher assumes full responsibility for compliance with laws of copyright. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Coordinator of Archives & Special Collections.

Biographical / Historical

Richmond College was established in order to meet the growing need for tax-supported undergraduate education on Staten Island. By 1965, Staten Island Community College (SICC), which had been established in 1955, had an enrollment of 1000 full-time and 1074 part-time evening students. Students at SICC and other community colleges encountered difficulty in transferring to finish bachelor’s degrees at four-year schools, as the schools had only a limited number of openings for junior transfer students. The Board of Higher Education opted to create a new college based upon the "upper division" concept rather than a new four-year college. Yet the Board somewhat undercut the institution's purpose by implementing a policy that allowed for any community college student who had successfully completed 60-64 credits to enter any senior college at approximately the same time the college opened on Staten Island. Richmond College, an upper division school with undergraduate programs for juniors and seniors as well as selected graduate programs, was established as a senior college in the CUNY system in 1965. The college held its first classes in 1967 in St. George, using the facilities left vacant by SICC upon its move to the new Sunnyside Campus.

The upper division college was a new concept in higher education at the time. Richmond College was the third upper division college in the country, and the first in an urban setting. The college was determined to be a pioneering institution in order to become a true "community of scholars and students."

As a new institution, Richmond College was in a unique position to recruit faculty and staff that were interested in creating a non-traditional upper division college. In his Dedication & Convocation Address, President Schueler noted that:

In our recruitment of faculty we were blessed with an embarrassment of riches – for about 80 available places in our first year, we received more than 4000 applications…we chose those who in our judgment were blessed with the

best combination of qualities we were seeking for our faculty – scholarship, enthusiasm, a commitment to working intimately with students, and the will to venture.

The college believed in interdisciplinary studies and programs and attempted to recruit faculty with broad educational backgrounds that would lend themselves to interdisciplinary work. The initial recruitment process also resulted in a young faculty. In the fall of 1968, the average age of the faculty was 34. The college also had the highest percentage of faculty in the Assistant Professor rank in all of CUNY, at sixty percent, in the fall of 1969.

The college strove to create "modes of organization, curriculum, and student involvement that are untrammeled by tradition." Its organizational structure was a non-traditional one based upon divisions rather than departments. The college initially had four divisions - Humanities, Natural Sciences & Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Professional Studies - as opposed to academic departments. It was felt that this organizational structure would be more appropriate for experimental and interdisciplinary study programs.

The reality of experimental and innovative organizational structures and programs did create some measure of difficulties at Richmond College. A 1971 case study on educational experimentation at Richmond College noted that there appeared to be "cleavage between anti-reform academic traditionals and the liberal majority of the faculty who agree that higher education must be reformed." This seemed true both within the college and in its relationship with the administration of CUNY. The college's organizational structure and philosophy also contributed to several problems. Divisions were not equally experimental in their approach to academic programs, governance policies and structures. In particular, the participation of junior faculty and students on standing committees and in recruitment differed between the divisions. The different cultures of the four divisions could cause communication problems and a lack of interdivisional cooperation. The organizational structure also fostered a reliance upon community decision-making and contributed to leadership vacuums, factionalism and strife when consensus could not be reached on issues related to college programs and its mission, governance and organizational structure. The relationship between the faculty and the administration also deteriorated in the final years of the institution over these issues.

But Richmond College had opened its doors with personnel that had a commitment to the college's mission. Despite difficulties and differences, it was able to implement some truly innovative and cutting-edge academic programs. The college attempted to develop programs that allowed for (and encouraged) student flexibility and choice while still allowing for solid training in a chosen major field. The college also felt it had to find "a way to educate students who were a new generation of college entrants and whose preparation was enormously different from the usual background of college-bound students in the U.S.A." Some of the college's experimental programs and policies, such as Integrated Studies, had issues that could not be completely resolved within the short life span of the institution. The college's pass-fail grading system, while innovative at the time, was eventually changed to a letter grading system in 1975. On the other hand, Richmond College developed the first women's studies courses in CUNY, and in 1972 the college was one of only two schools on the East Coast that had a program leading to a degree in Women's Studies. The college was also willing to explore the creation of degree programs

in new disciplines such as Computer Science, Puerto Rican-Latin American Studies, Afro-American Studies and Urban-Community Studies.

New York City's fiscal situation created a crisis throughout CUNY during the 1970's. As a result, SICC and Richmond College formed a federation in 1975 that was meant to allow for the survival of both colleges and the maintenance of their separate missions and programs. As SICC received funding from both the city and the state, it remained fiscally sound. Richmond College, which received only city funding, was ultimately targeted for elimination by CUNY in 1976. CUNY's proposal naturally encountered resistance on Staten Island, and the College of Staten Island was established in 1976 when the federation was discontinued in favor of a merger of the two institutions. President Birenbaum resigned from the presidency at SICC during the merger, and Richmond College President Edmond Volpe became the president of the new four-year college.

List of Presidents, 1966-1976 May 1966-May 1973: Herbert Schueler September 1973-June 1974: Saul Touster (Acting President) July 1974 – August 31, 1976: Edmond L. Volpe


9 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Richmond College was founded in 1967 an an upper division college, and ultimately merged with Staten Island Community College (SICC) to form the College of Staten Island (CSI) in 1976. The records include publications, meeting minutes, photographs and correspondence, but coverage of official administrative records is weak.


The Richmond College Records are divided into ten series and several subseries:


a) Administrative Units

i) Administrative Staff Personnel Office ii) Office of the Dean of Faculties iii) Office of the President iv) President's Cabinet v) Richmond College Assembly

b) Governance

c) Reports and Other Publications


a) Calendars

b) Departments and Programs

c) Events

d) Faculty and Staff

i) Faculty Meeting Minutes ii) Committee Meeting Minutes iii) College Publications iv) College Communications

e) Institutes

f) Academic Publications and Reports


a) Student Activities

b) Student Publications

c) Student Services

d) Publications for Students





a) Founding

b) Merger


a) St. George

b) Permanent Campus


a) Campus

b) Events

c) Staff and Student Life


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers are part of the college's institutional record.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the CSI Archives & Special Collections Repository