A Good-Natured Lot
It was October 14, 1915 when SUNY Delhi opened its doors to nine students, the college's director, and two instructors. There was only one building, the Dairy Barn, now known as Thurston Hall. It was a cold place. As one student said, "Red noses were in vogue."
The 1922 Fidelitas, the college's first yearbook, described the scene: "...They were a good-natured lot and what was lacking in equipment was made up in enthusiasm."
The college was initially founded in 1913, as the State School of Agriculture and Domestic Science at Delhi, thanks to the efforts of sisters Elizabeth and Amelia MacDonald. Its initial mission was to stem the migration of young people from the area by preparing them for careers in farming. From its founding to today, the college has a long and proud tradition of applying hands-on education to prepare students to help meet the needs of the region and beyond.
Dr. Carl E. Ladd served as the school's first director in 1915 and took on the task of organizing the school in just under 10 weeks. Ladd radiated confidence and created a spirit of zeal and loyalty that brought harmony to an otherwise chaotic situation. Delhi's first commencement took place at the end of April 1918 when 19 diplomas were awarded, four in Domestic Science and 15 in Agriculture.
Sporting from the Start
Men's basketball, Delhi's first athletic team, was organized only weeks after the school opened in 1915. Until just after World War II, basketball and cross country were Delhi's only intercollegiate sports. Early on, Delhi had a small pool of candidates for its athletics teams, but the school spirit remained strong.
Through the years, Delhi's reputation in intercollegiate sports has grown. Delhi's 1982 wrestling team broke the national record for consecutive dual meet wins and its cross country teams have earned more than 10 national titles.
A History of Engagement
Throughout its history, SUNY Delhi has responded with agility and zeal to the needs of the region. After World War I, it created an intensive training program to alleviate a farm worker shortage; it established a teacher training program in 1921 when Upstate New York's one-room schoolhouses were desperate for trained teachers; and it responded to a national call for nurses in 1943 with a new training course for practical nurses.
In 1933, the college launched the country's first building construction program to meet the growing need for carpenters and builders. Many of the houses on Park Place and Sheldon Drive in the Village of Delhi were the result of Delhi construction students' hard work- a tradition that continues today with construction students building homes, as well as facilities for non-profit organizations, to gain hands-on experience.
New Names, Pioneering Programs
The college officially became the New York State Agricultural and Technical Institute at Delhi in 1941, the culmination of campus expansion and an increasingly diversified curriculum combined with the growing stature of the state's six agricultural schools.
Food technology was added to the curriculum in 1945, which marked the beginning of what is now Delhi's highly regarded Hospitality Management program. The program continued to expand over the years with new degree offerings like Restaurant Management, Culinary Arts, and Hospitality Management.
The college changed names again after World War II, becoming one of the original 14 state colleges and agricultural institutes to form the new State University of New York system. In 1964, “College” replaced “Institute” to make it the New York Agricultural and Technical College at Delhi.
The 1960s saw tremendous change at SUNY Delhi. Dr. William R. Kunsela, who served as president from 1955 until 1973, spearheaded a massive construction project to modernize the campus, with virtually every structure torn down to make way for new facilities. At the same time, the college launched its Veterinary Science Technology program, the first of its kind in the United States.
The college's acclaimed Golf and Turf Management programs got their start in the 1970s. In 1992, college officials announced plans to expand the college golf course to 18 holes to support the college's plans for a professional golf management program. In 2008, the Golf/Turf Management programs were ranked within the Top 15 in the U.S. and named "Best in New York State" by Turfnet magazine.
Dr. Candace S. Vancko became SUNY Delhi's president in 1999. She brought a new focus to Delhi, introducing baccalaureate degrees and strengthening Delhi's niche two-year programs. President Vancko retired in 2016 and Dr. Michael R. LaLiberte became the 10th president in Delhi history in July 2016.
In 2000, Delhi's culinary team won the American Culinary Federation's New York State competition for the first time; it went on to win nine in a row. That same year the team was featured in the National Culinary Review as New York's finest. In 2003, the team earned a gold medal at the ACF National Championship, and in 2010 Delhi captured the ACF National Championship in Anaheim, CA. The culinary team won the Copa Culinaria Mundial Junior representing the United States in Costa Rica in 2016.
Campus facilities have undergone a major transformation over the last decade. Renovations to Farrell Hall created the new Farrell Student and Community Center. Sanford Hall was transformed into a state-of-the-art academic center for nursing, business and other technology-driven programs. Catskill Hall, a suite-style residence hall, and Riverview Townhouses were added to meet the growing residential student population. Campus walkways and roadways were renovated to improve mobility and access for students.