A Brief History of Eisenhower College…
(Excerpted from Eisenhower College, The Life and Death of a Living Memorial by David L. Dresser)
Eisenhower College was founded in 1965 at Seneca Falls, New York, by a group of central New Yorkers who interested President Eisenhower in a small, private, Presbyterian liberal arts college as a living memorial. Never religiously oriented, the college attracted an outstanding faculty and became well known and highly respected for its unique general education program of World Studies.
The faculty and the curriculum had a profound affect on students, as national tests showed.
Unfortunately, the college was underfunded from the beginning. President Eisenhower was still alive when Congress designated the college “a permanent and living memorial to his life and deeds” and appropriated $5 million to get it started. This proved to be too little, and a $9 million congressional grant in 1974 proved to be too late. Rochester Institute of Technology tried to revive the college, but decided after three years that it could not. Eisenhower College closed its doors in 1983.
The Eisenhower College Alumni Association (ECAA)…
The current Eisenhower College Alumni Association (ECAA) was founded in 1982 to fight the closing of Eisenhower College. Kevin Smyth ’78, then president of the previous alumni association, re-created the ECAA as an independent organization with an all-alumni board of directors. The ECAA was incorporated in New York State a year later. Although efforts to save the College were unsuccessful, the organization became viable on its own and never looked back. Among early initiatives were the recreation of our alumni database and the establishment of a scholarship program for high school seniors– an effort that continues to this day.
Early on, the hiring of Stewart Howe Alumni Service (now Elevate) professionalized our operations, including publication of the Association’s newsletter, World Studies XI, and coordination of annual gatherings. Over time, this website, along with an expanding presence via social media (Facebook and Instagram), and the addition of regional gatherings, have allowed our small community to not only stay connected but grow and thrive.
With the challenges brought about by the 2020 pandemic, the ECAA leadership responded with the recreation of a former ‘campus staple’—the Eisenhower Artist & Lecture series. Virtual programming, led by alumni and friends, is complemented with resurrected ‘faculty favorites.’ Topics run the gamut—from art, history, music, and literature to nature exploration, coping strategies, current events, and aging gracefully. Additionally, bimonthly competitive trivia, weekly online socials, and on-demand video recordings (via YouTube) have served to engage more community members than ever.
For nearly four decades, the ECAA has successfully kept the vision that was Eisenhower College and its World Studies program alive. If you’ve found us by chance or looked us up on purpose, we hope you will take time to learn more about our activities and the small college that served as our genesis and enduring link.
ECAA Mission Statement: The Eisenhower College Alumni Association, Inc. is dedicated to the perpetuation of the legacy of the Living Memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower as proposed by unanimous decision of the 90th Congress on September 17, 1968.