Meet Fred R. Harrison, an FSC Icon
By Jonathan Barbieri
For years on the Farmingdale campus if anyone asked for “Fred”…..a second name wasn’t even necessary. They had to be looking for Fred Harrison, who, after more than six decades, could only be described as a Farmingdale icon.
Fred graduated in 1950 from the two-year Farmingdale College of Agriculture and Technology - now Farmingdale State College - with a degree in Ornamental Horticulture. After graduation Fred served a term with the Army Corp of Engineers in Europe before returning to Long Island. Upon his return he worked for some of the larger landscaping contractors of the time on projects as notable as the New York State Thruway.
In 1968, Fred returned to the Farmingdale campus as the Superintendent of Grounds, and over the next 49 years evolved to the Director of Campus Services, and ultimately the Associate Director of Physical Plant. Throughout that time Fred was as valued and highly regarded a member of the campus community and the Physical Plant department as has ever existed. On any given day one might find Fred overseeing a campus project, supervising a crew performing massive office moves, or putting finishing touches and details in place for more commencement ceremonies than can be imagined. But one might be just as likely to find him careening around an overgrown farm field on a tractor, almost single handedly building what was to become the campus golf driving range.
Fred was the epitome of a “go-to” guy in all situations. Hurricanes, ice storms, blizzards, fire…..the more dire the emergency, the deeper you would find Fred embedded in the middle of it. Many of the more senior members of Physical Plant still have a clear image of Fred driving in the dead of night on an unenclosed piece of snow removal equipment for hours, with the wind whipping a constant stream of sparks out of the pipe that was always clutched between his teeth. One of a kind. An icon to be sure.
In 1992 Fred received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service, and in 1975 was named Alumnus of the Year.
Fred also had deep roots in his community. He first served Setauket Fire Department in 1947. Upon moving to Melville he joined the fire department there in 1959, becoming Chief in 1972. Subsequently he was elected to the department’s Board of Fire Commissioners in 1975, and served four consecutive five-year terms thereafter.