Founded in 1965 by the State University of New York Board of Trustees, the
College at Old Westbury began in 1968 at Planting Fields, the former Coe Estate
located in Oyster Bay, New York. In 1971, the College moved to its present
Old Westbury site - the estate formerly owned by agriculturalist, industrialist,
sportsman and philanthropist F. Ambrose Clark.
The College has been led by
four permanent presidents and three acting presidents. Dr. Harris Wofford,
Director of the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, served
from 1966 to 1969. Dr. John Maguire was appointed in 1970 and served until
1981. After an interim year during which Dr. James Hall, president of SUNY
College, served as acting president, Dr. Clyde Wingfield was appointed in
1982. He left in 1985, and Cornelius Robbins served as acting president for
weeks. Ulric Haynes, Jr., the former United States Ambassador to Algeria,
president for a year beginning in August 1985. From 1986 through the end
of the 1997-98 academic year, the college was served by Dr. L. Eudora Pettigrew.
current President is Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III.
The College was originally envisioned by then SUNY Chancellor Samuel B. Gould
as an experimental college, innovative in curricula, procedures and academic
policies. The first class of 85 students, recruited from across the nation,
arrived in September 1968. Following a turbulent year, the president announced
his resignation, and State University officials appointed a commission to examine
the College's progress. The commission issued a report that caused the SUNY
Board of Trustees to reorganize the College.
In fall, 1971 the College opened
with a new president, Dr. John Maguire, a revised educational direction and
a student enrollment of 571. Known as Old
Westbury II, the College sought to organize the curriculum around a critical
analysis of fundamental issues in American society and to establish a form
of college government that involved mutual responsibility and action among
faculty, students and staff on a broad range of decisions basic to the life
of the College.