From Beginning to End: Adelphi Rescues Dowling College’s History

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After hearing about the closing of Dowling College in fall 2016, David Ranzan, Adelphi University archivist, was concerned that the court-assigned firm beginning to liquidate the college’s assets to pay off debt would view the institution’s archives as having no monetary value.

“This might have led to the firm disposing of the material,” Ranzan noted. Adelphi has a special connection with the college as Dowling started off in 1955 as Adelphi’s Suffolk County satellite campus — becoming Dowling College in 1968.

After obtaining contact information from former Dowling archivist Diane Holliday, Ranzan approached the representative in charge of the liquidation, Neil Bivona of RSR Consulting, LLC, with the idea of transferring the college archives to Adelphi University and, by March 2017, a handshake agreement was reached.

After several months of deliberation from both institutions, a formal agreement was signed by all parties on July 12, 2017. A week later, approximately 380 linear feet of material was transported to Adelphi University from Dowling College’s Oakdale campus.

“Dowling and Adelphi have a history going back to day one,” said Frank Corso, Jr., a 1977 Dowling graduate and president of the Dowling College Alumni Association, which is still active. “Preserving a part of the history of the college is a plus for Dowling and for the community. Our approximately 48,000 alumni certainly have positive experiences in our memories.”

Since last summer, Ranzan and the archives staff have begun preserving and processing the materials. They include everything from course catalogs, board minutes and presidential papers to doctoral dissertations, master’s theses, photographs, student newspapers and yearbooks.

“Preserving history is one of a library’s and archive’s highest missions,” said Brian Lym, dean of University Libraries at Adelphi. “We’re particularly happy to be able to help another institution of higher learning, one with which we share a certain amount of history on Long Island.”

Thomas Daly graduated with Dowling’s first class in 1971, having started at Adelphi Suffolk—and his son was a member of the final graduating class in 2016. He later was dean of student affairs and dean of aviation.

“I applaud Adelphi University for securing Dowling College’s archives,” Daly said. “Since 1955, Adelphi University and Dowling College shared a special connection. I invite all Dowling alumni to join the Alumni Association and visit the special collections of our great history at Adelphi.”

Noted Adelphi Archivist Ranzan: “I am proud that I was able to rescue Dowling’s archives. By preserving the collection, it will ensure the legacy of Dowling and it will provide its alumni access to their institutional history for years to come.”

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