SUNY Ulster Built-In Our County’s History

SUNY Ulster is something of a “family affair.” In 1965, my father, Louis Yess, guided his bulldozer to rough out the road that would commence the building of the current Ulster County Community College. Ten years later, I graduated from that school. My husband, John Wadlin, served as Chairman, and in other positions, of the college’s Board of Trustees for over 17 years.

John Burroughs As a current board member of the John Burroughs Association, I was invited to attend the re-dedication of John Burroughs Hall, one of the many buildings on the Stone Ridge campus. SUNY Ulster’s president, Don Katt, used his introductory remarks to remind us of the people, groups, and events honored by having a campus building named for them. It seemed like a good time to publish his remarks since “Greetings From Stone Ridge,” the college’s home, is our pictoral story for winter.


Re-dedication of John Burroughs Hall

Talk delivered by SUNY Ulster Community College President Don Katt on October 26, 2012

Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to this very special ceremony.

Back in the mid-60s, our County Historian, Harry Rigby, helped the founding Board of Trustees name our buildings. It is due to his involvement that we seized the opportunity to highlight prominent people, remarkable individuals, and historic events.

• Our buildings are named after the State’s first Governor, former Vice President of the United States, and the longest serving Ulster County Clerk, George Clinton.

• John Vanderlyn Hall carries the name of a Kingston native who became a revered painter and lived from 1775-1852.

• The Senate Gymnasium serves- as a lasting tribute to the Senate House in Kingston where the State’s Constitution was written and adopted by patriots that included John Jay, Robert Livingston, and Gouverneur Morris.

• Jacob A. Hasbrouck was one of the original settlers of Stone Ridge and his family figured prominently in the history of Ulster County.

• The Macdonald DeWitt Library was named after a founding Board of Trustee member and Kingston attorney who gave the College a sizable gift—about $1.5 million in today’s money—to build the library and purchase the (College) President’s residence.

• The Algonquin Building recognizes the first inhabitants of the region—the Native American Algonquian Munsee Delaware Tribe.

• Jacob R. Hardenbergh, a native of Rosendale and a Dutch Reform minister, became the first president of Queen’s College, which is now Rutgers University.

• The Kelder Center, was named after S. Robert Kelder, a local teacher and farmer, who served on the Board of Trustees and as Chair of the Facilities Committee from 1969 to 1985.

• And finally, John Burroughs Hall – that we re-dedicate today – was named in honor of a Roxbury, NY/Delaware County native who became a prominent American naturalist and essayist and important in the evolution of the conservation movement.

In 1874, at the age of 37, John Burroughs returned to the Hudson Valley and purchased a nine acre farm in West Park in the Town of Esopus. That is where he built his Riverby estate and years later an Adirondack-style cabin that he called Slabsides. John Burroughs was born 175 years ago­–on April 3rd–and lived until he was 83. In the early 20th Century Burroughs’ writings were required reading in public schools across the country. During his lifetime he befriended Walt Whitman, Thomas Edison, John Muir, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone. He also befriended–and became a companion of– President Theodore Roosevelt. It is because of that friendship, and the fact that tomorrow the New York City’s Museum of Natural History will officially reopen the two-story Theodore Roosevelt Memorial and the Hall of North American Mammals, which serves as New York State’s official memorial to its 33rd Governor and the nation’s 26th President, that we rededicate this Hall in John Burroughs’ memory this afternoon.