Westchester Community College
Westchester Community College is a public, two-year community college, sponsored by Westchester County, and the State University of New York. The college is one of 30 community colleges affiliated with SUNY.
New York state opened five coed technical institutes in 1946, one each in the communities of Buffalo, Binghamton, Utica, New York, and White Plains. The five institutes were operated and financially supported by the state. The Westchester County location in White Plains was called the New York Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences and was housed in a few rooms of the Battle Hill School. The state decided to close the schools in 1953, unless the five communities would accept operating responsibilities and share the financial costs with the state. All five communities decided to retain the institutes. Some members of the Westchester County Board of Supervisors objected to taking on the management of the New York Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences, but community organizations, such as women's clubs, business men's leagues, and civic associations, voiced support. Some even pledged scholarships. A deal was reached so that the financial burden would be shared equally between the state, county, and the student body, with each contributing one-third towards the school's operating costs. On August 12, 1953, Westchester County announced that the Institute would be replaced with Westchester Community College beginning September 1, 1953. New York governor Thomas E. Dewey appointed WCC's first board of trustees, which was composed of "successful lawyers, editors, manufacturers, labor readers and persons of varied racial backgrounds". The college's first president was Dr. Philip C. Martin, and its first board chairman was Chauncey T.S. Fish. WCC began operating with a budget of $400,893. Original enrollment at the school was 550 men and women, paying in-state tuition of $125 per semester, and out-of-state tuition of $250 per semester. Westchester County billed the home counties of non-Westchester students an additional $125. The first courses available were in business administration, building construction, technologies (electrical, mechanical, industrial chemistry), food administration, and medical-dental office work. Originally, the college awarded Associate of Applied Sciences degrees. Night courses were offered, but did not count towards a degree. Additional instruction was provided in English, mathematics, and social sciences. Initial extracurricular activities included music, golf, basketball, track, chess, radio, and photography. The salary range for faculty was $3,900-7000, "somewhat higher than most public schools" in 1953, but required 12 months of work and no tenure was granted at the time. "Minor employees" of the college had a salary starting at $3,480, and the president received a salary of $12,400. Search for a permanent location Paying $30,000 per year in rent to the county, and facing eviction from the Battle Hill School facility, the college began looking for alternate housing. The trustees of State University of New York (SUNY) approved spending $25,000, matching a pledge by the county board, to plan for a permanent site for WCC. In April 1955, a ten-member committee was formed by County Executive James D. Hopkins investigated possible sites for Westchester Community College. In addition to "many old estates", three main sites were available to the college: Ridge Road Park (Greenburgh), reservation land in White Plains on the Bronx River Parkway, and "an used state normal school site" in White Plains on North Street. By late in that year, sixteen properties had been examined, including lands located in parks, private estates, closed schools, and open countryside. The site committee agreed to a minimum of 100-acres for the college, and the state and county were sharing a capital commitment of $5,800,000 to build the new campus. In August 1956, the site committee chose to locate the campus on the Ridge Road Park property in Hartsdale, then the estate of Henry J. Gaisman, an executive with The Gillette Company. The committee rejected more rural sites because of their distance from populated areas. The chosen property was within walking distance to the Hartsdale train station and to bus stops on Central Park Avenue. Hopkins and the committee asked the county to buy the property immediately, but Gaisman "cooled to the idea" and eventually prevented officials from entering the property. John H. Downing, a member of the board of supervisors, argued to have a northern Westchester site chosen instead of the Gaisman estate. The board argued that the 136 acre Gaisman property was best because of its central location in the county, and that 85% of the college's students lived in southern Westchester and New York City. Gaisman continued to refused to sell his property, and on October 1, 1956, the County Board of Supervisors voted 25 to 15 to acquire the land by means of condemnation. Before the county could legally act, Gaisman gifted the estate to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, forcing the site committee to look elsewhere. With the Gaisman estate off the table, the county turned its attention to the 364-acre Valhalla estate of the late John A. Hartford, who was president of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. The property, called Buena Vista Farm, was occupied by Yale University, which only used "a few of the acres", but which had a contract with the Hartford Foundation to use the land until 1972. Yale conducted forestry research at the site, and had a $500,000 geophysics laboratory located there. On June 28, 1957, the county board voted 37 to 3 to purchase the Hartford site. The county's contract with the Hartford Foundation specified that the land be used for "educational and charitable" purposes. Some county officials objected to the large site being used exclusively for the college. A compromise was reached to divide the land for use between the college and county recreation. Yale agreed to vacate its operations completely by August 31, 1958. The Hartford Foundation agreed to sell the property, valued in 1958 between $3,000,000-4,000,000, for only $750,000. The low price was offered to help lower the cost of tuition for students. With the land finally acquired and plans in place to relocate the college from the Battle Hill School to Valhalla by 1959, County Executive Hopkins vowed to expand the college into a 4-year school awarding Bachelor's degrees. Expansion of college In 1971, Joseph N. Hankin succeeded Martin as the college's president. Hankin had previously been the director of evening and summer sessions, and then the president, of Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland. He continued to serve as president of WCC for more than 40 years, the longest serving community college president in the United States, until his retirement.
The mission of the Human Resources Department is to foster an environment of professionalism, accountability, trust and mutual respect amongst all employees of Westchester Community College. We strive to do this by providing information, support and guidance in every facet of the employment relationship in a conscientious, responsible and proficient manner; and by supporting college departments in their efforts to help realize the life and career goals of our surrounding community.
Suburban, 218 acres (88 ha)