History of the New York Institute of Technology
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The founders of NYIT, and in particular Dr. Alexander Schure, Ph.D., started NYIT with the purpose of creating a career-oriented school that focused on giving students the training necessary to succeed in their chosen careers. NYIT began in operations in 1955 in New York City with only nine students. Schure also served as NYIT's first president.
The function of higher education was highly debated at the time. There was growing concern that American schools and colleges were failing to meet critical national demands, particularly the need for scientists, engineers, and high-level technicians. This anxiety, in turn, generated another concern – fear that humanities studies would become overshadowed by an emphasis on science and engineering.
NYIT's first administrators created a balance, a coexistence of career training and liberal arts education.
Leaders of the college took an early stand, committing NYIT to a policy of access. In addition to opening its doors to high school graduates who wanted to attend, NYIT created an extensive range of student services to help ensure the college's success.
The career-focused mission of the school and its "access to opportunity policy" were well received in the marketplace, resulting in rapid enrollment growth. By the 1958-1959 academic year, NYIT had more than 300 students and the time had come to expand its physical operations.
In April 1958, the college purchased the Pythian Temple at 135-145 W. 70th St. in Manhattan for its main center. NYIT's Brooklyn building soon became home to the college's division of general studies. The Manhattan building, adjacent to the planned Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, was an ornate 12-story structure with a columned entranceway. Built in 1929 at a cost of $2 million, it included among its features a huge 1,200-seat auditorium.
Also in 1958, NYIT sponsored the first National Technology Awards, created by Frederick Pittera, an organizer of international fairs and a member of the NYIT Board of Trustees, to help raise funds for the NYIT science and technology laboratories. The awards, held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, were attended by several hundred guests, with entertainment provided by the U.S. Air Force Band. 36th President of the United States Lyndon Johnson was the keynote speaker. His speech was broadcast nationally by the ABC Radio Network. Among the honorees were Dr. Wernher von Braun and Major General Bernard Schriever, Commanding General of the Ballistic Air Command. Photos, press clippings, and audio tapes of the event are on view at the Lyndon Johnson Library at Austin, Texas.
In 1960 NYIT received a provisional charter from the Board of Regents to operate as a four-year college with the ability to grant bachelor's degrees. (The permanent charter was granted in 1962.)
In the early 1960s, enrollment was already reaching 1,500 students, and it was time to look for a bigger campus. A temporary site in Syosset, N.Y., was opened while school officials searched for a permanent home. Many prospective sites were examined before the officials decided on one of Long Island's most famous properties – a 280-acre (1.1 km²) tract of the Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney estate in Old Westbury. Later, the college would acquire a number of neighboring properties in Brookville and Old Brookville, joining together more than 700 acres (2.8 km²) of the fabled stretch of Gold Coast estates that thrived on Long Island's North Shore during the Roaring '20s. Half of New York Institute of Technology’s 1,050 acres Old Westbury campus is located in the Village of Brookville. Many estate buildings and stables were renovated into classroom space. The School of Architecture and Design, for example, is housed in what was once Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney's state-of-the-art chicken coop. Feathers and manure were once burned in underground ovens behind the structure, and the smell from this furnace occasioned many complaints from adjoining estates. In 1924 Violet Doyle, the daughter of a local blacksmith, contracted typhus and died after drinking water from a contaminated well near the building. A lawsuit resulted, and the building was left vacant until NYIT repurposed it as classrooms in 1965.
Thirty-five hundred students attended NYIT in fall 1965, an increase of 1,000 over the previous year. More importantly, the college's enrollment figures now included students from other states and countries.
The young college quickly became a leader in using educational technology. With the help of a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the school set out to develop an automated, self-instructional engineer training system. "When the system [is] completed," the foundation said in its 1964 annual report, "it may serve as a model for other engineering technician programs throughout the country, offering one … solution to the severe manpower and teacher shortage in the field."
NYIT was also building a reputation for research in other areas. In 1965, an applied-research laboratory was established to bring the full resources of the faculty and its facilities to bear on the solution of important technology problems for government and industry.
Long before personal computers were invented, NYIT was involved in efforts to use mainframes as a teaching tool. The institute received its first computer, donated by the CIT Financial Corporation, in 1965. Three years later, the college received two grants totaling approximately $3 million from the federal government – one to develop a system of individualized learning through the use of computers; the other to develop a computer-based course in general physics for midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Student organizations also increased during the 1960s: NYIT's Old Westbury student newspaper, the Campus Slate, put out its first issue in September 1966; the first Old Westbury student drama production, "Tea and Sympathy," was performed in November 1966; and the Old Westbury Student Activity Center opened in December 1969.
Manhattan students were equally busy, introducing their own student newspaper, the Scope, and producing plays like "You Can't Take It With You" in 1964. In 1965, WNYT, the college's first radio station, began broadcasting in the basement cafeteria.
1970 was the year that NYIT was accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, the regional body that oversees educational standards. In addition, NYIT launched its first master's program, a Master of Business Administration, and started its alumni association, the first organization created to help graduates network after leaving school. College-wide enrollment reached 5,000 students during this time, with the Manhattan campus bursting at the seams. In 1971, Muhammad Ali visited NYIT. At the start of the 1971-1972 academic year, NYIT moved that campus to several floors of a newly constructed 45-story skyscraper at 888 Seventh Avenue. But as enrollment grew over the next few years, the Manhattan campus moved to larger facilities at its current location at 61st Street and Broadway in 1976.
Renovations continued at the Old Westbury campus, with the former Alfred I. du Pont mansion opening in 1972 as the de Seversky Conference Center. Named after longtime NYIT board member and aviation designer Alexander P. de Seversky, the center provided a wonderful environment to train students in the college's culinary arts, hospitality management, and communication arts programs. New degrees were also added to NYIT's career-training programs during this time. In 1973, the college received approval to award Bachelor of Architecture degrees and was accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board in 1977.
In 1974, another legendary program began at NYIT. Many of today's most sophisticated 3-D computer animation techniques descend from NYIT's Computer Graphics Lab (CGL), which would pioneer the field for nearly two decades.
The CGL's roster was a digital dream team. Prominent members included future Pixar Animation Studios President Edwin Catmull and co-founder Alvy Ray Smith; Walt Disney Feature Animation Chief Scientist Lance Joseph Williams; DreamWorks animator Hank Grebe; Computer Media Artist Rebecca Allen and Netscape and Silicon Graphics founder Jim Clark. Researchers at the New York Institute of Technology Computer Graphics Lab created the tools that made entirely 3D CGI films possible. NYIT CG Lab was regarded as the top computer animation research and development group in the world during the late 70s and early 80s.
But computer graphics were not NYIT's only successes in the entertainment industry. The invention of the digital noise reducer by William E. Glenn, Ph.D., earned the college its first television Emmy award in 1978. Glenn's research at the school's Science and Research Center also led to the college receiving a patent in 3-D technology in 1979.
NYIT embarked on one of its biggest endeavors during the late 1970s – it launched a medical school, the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYCOM), the first osteopathic medical school in the state. It has since grown to enroll the largest number of medical students on a single campus in the United States.
In 1980, NYIT's student-run newspaper The Campus Slate conducted interviews with Oscar-nominated actress Diane Lane and The Beach Boys. NYIT's sports teams scored a number of victories during the 1980s. The men's basketball team returned to the NCAA Division II playoffs in 1980, making it all the way to the national champion-ships before losing 80-74 to Virginia Union. The baseball team also returned to the NCAA Division II playoffs in 1980 and continued to perform at the top of its game as it moved to NCAA Division I in 1983.
A new era was ushered in when NYIT's founding president, Alexander Schure, Ph.D., Ed.D., took up the role of chancellor in 1982, and his son, Matthew Schure, Ph.D., was named president of the college.
NYIT continued to expand, opening a third campus in Central Islip, N.Y., in September 1984. The expansive campus featured Georgian-style brick buildings grouped and connected by roads lined with century-old trees. It was also home to the college's first on-campus residential facility.
In order to serve those who could not attend classes at one of its three campuses, the college launched American Open University of NYIT in November 1984. The forerunner to today's online colleges, this "virtual campus" allowed students to work at their convenience using home computers.
The World Health Organization designated the medical school in 1988 as one of three collaborative centers for occupational medicine in the United States.
NYIT's own advertising program advanced that year with the creation of a student-run advertising agency, the Carleton Group, at the Central Islip campus. During this time, NYIT was one of only two colleges in the state offering a concentration in advertising.
NYIT's commitment to distance learning remained a priority as upgrades were constantly developed. In 1991, COSY, an early Internet tool, featured group capability and provided statistical reports on student and faculty participation. Shifting to the Collegis tool set in 1998 allowed faculty members to use more sophisticated files, including multimedia, and made available a 24-hour help desk.
In 1991, the school graduated its 1,000th physician. NYCOM established a minority and disadvantaged Post Baccalaureate Future Physicians Program in 1994.
The Campus Voice, the student-run newspaper of the Central Islip campus, begins publication in 1992 and soon becomes known for its investigative reporting. Controversial articles included uncovering management improprieties by food service provider, Lackmann Culinary Services which forced NYIT to cease negotiations on extending their contract, and a front page reprinting of a letter signed by then-NYIT Vice President of Academic Affairs and current NYIT President, Dr. Edward Guiliano, outlining his plan to retire the school's policy of scheduling few classes on Friday. The letter was leaked to The Campus Voice by faculty. In the letter, Dr. Guiliano admitted the decision would be unpopular with students but ended with, "...they'll have no choice because they are a captive audience." The decision to uphold the "few classes on Friday" policy was announced within hours after the story went public.
NYIT's School of Engineering made headlines in 1995 when a team of students took first place in the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Air Road Rally in Los Angeles, Calif. The team spent three years designing and building a high-performance hybrid electric car that beat out 43 other vehicles.
In 1996, The Campus Voice placed 2nd in the category of Best Overall College Newspaper by the Society for Collegiate Journalists.
The year 1997 marked another NYIT first as the men's lacrosse team won the college's first national championship when it captured the NCAA Division II title.
In 1998, NYCOM opened the Adele Smithers Parkinson's Disease Center. Among its many initiatives, the center provides medical care, promotes community awareness and Parkinson's disease education, fosters scientific studies and medical research, and helps individual patients achieve and maintain the best quality of life possible while coping with the disease.
In 1998 NYIT opened a program in China. Within the next seven years, the college would establish programs in Canada and the Middle East.
In 2000 Edward Guiliano, Ph.D., was named the college's third president.
After September 11, 2001, security became a major concern, and NYIT received a $300,000 federal grant to build a new cyber-security lab to meet the growing need for students trained to defend organizations against cyber attacks.
In 2002, NYIT expanded its Manhattan campus and in 2003 launched Ellis College of NYIT, an online school created to serve working adults. In that year, NYIT also installed the fastest broadband network on the East Coast.
In 2003, NYIT opened its Bahrain campus to students seeking an American-style education in the Middle East.
In 2004, plans were announced to reorganize the Central Islip campus into a community service facility with most of the academic programs relocated to the Old Westbury and Manhattan campuses. Remaining in Central Islip were the culinary arts program and its restaurant, the Epicurean Room; the Vocational Independence Program for students with learning disabilities; the NYCOM family medical center; the Technology-Based Learning Research Center; and the BOCES and Head Start programs.
In 2005, NYIT participated in its first Solar Decathlon, an international competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. NYIT was one of 19 colleges internationally and the only school in the New York metropolitan area. The team, composed of students and faculty, captured fifth place honors.
Since 2005, NYIT has been offering degree programs in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The NYIT campus is located in the Center of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT) Technology Park. NYIT-Abu Dhabi became the first American university in Abu Dhabi. The classrooms feature the latest technologies, including smartboards and high-tech computers, as well as an extensive library collection and excellent parking facilities. Students have access to a range of menu options, including choices from: Flamingo Catering Services, Subway, Starbucks, McDonald's, Forty Fruity, and Al Dhafrah restaurant and more. At NYIT-Abu Dhabi, students have a number of extra- and co-curricular activities in which they can participate.The NYIT-Abu Dhabi Speakers Series invites prominent business, government, and educational leaders to campus to lecture on important 21st-century topics. Past presenters include U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.
In 2007, NYIT co-hosted the International Energy Conference and Exhibition in Daegu, South Korea. In that year, the university also received $500,000 in federal funding to develop a "green print" initiative to research alternative fuel technology and determine its carbon footprint.
In 2008, NYIT installed a state-of-the-art 3-D motion capture lab for its Fine Arts program in Old Westbury. The system allows the university to use Hollywood technology to teach the next generation of computer animators. Later that year, NYIT was awarded a $130,000 research contract by United Space Alliance to help NASA scientists design the crew module of the Orion spacecraft using 3-D motion capture technology. NYIT's College of Osteopathic Medicine also uses 3-D motion capture technology to help doctors better identify mobility and stability problems in patients with Parkinson's disease.
NYIT sponsored the first annual International Water Conference in July 2008 at the United Nations in New York City. The event brought together representatives from non-governmental organizations, international corporations, and universities to discuss the need to safeguard the planet's water resources. The following year, NYIT sponsored its second U.N. event, the International Energy Conference (August 31-September 1, 2009) to welcome energy secretaries, policy makers, and executives from multinational companies to examine opportunities and innovations in the field of sustainable technology.
Notable commencement speakers at NYIT during the 2000s included George Pataki, the 53rd Governor of New York, Sanjay Kumar, chairman and CEO of CA Technologies and Chuck Schumer, United States Senator from New York, among others.
- Alexander Schure, Ph.D. - 1955-1982
- Matthew Schure, Ph.D. - 1982-2000
- Edward Guiliano, Ph.D. - 2000–2017
- Hank Foley, Ph.D. - 2017–present
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