College Presidents

Farmingdale State has had nine directors or presidents since 1912.

They are:

 Albert A. Johnson (1913-1923)

Garland A. Bricker (summer 1923)

Halsey B. Knapp (1923-1956)

William A. Medesy (1957-1960)

Dr. Charles W. Laffin, Jr. (1961-1976)

Dr. Frank A. Cipriani (1978-1999)

Dr. Jonathan C. Gibralter (2001-2006)

Dr. W. Hubert Keen (January 2007-2016)

Dr. John S. Nader (July 2016-present)

 The following people have also been in the positions of Acting Director/President:
H. A. Dodge, 1923; David W. Allee, 1960-1961; John Purcell, 1976; Mauro S. Zulli, 1976-1978; Dr. Michael J. Vinciguerra, 1999-2001; George P. LaRosa (Officer in Charge), August 2, 2006-January 18, 2007.

In December of 1912, our first director, Albert A. Johnson, "was recommended by authorities in Washington, D. C. and duly elected as first Director of the School" (from Twenty-five Years of Progress, in the 20th Annual Banquet Alumni Association Program, October 25, 1941). Johnson had previously been with the Milwaukee County School of Agriculture near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He resigned his position as director early in 1923, shortly before the passage of the Antin Bill whereby the school came under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Education. The archive has a large collection of letters written by Johnson to Dr. Hooper between 1912 and 1914. These letters detail Johnson's ideas for the fledgling institute. One of the pictures on the right is from the 1919 yearbook, while the other is one of only a few existing pictures of our first president, who is sixth from the left.  Click on photos for larger version.

Photo not available Garland Armor Bricker was Director of the college for only the summer of 1923. Before his short stay at Farmingdale, he was on the faculty at Ohio State University from 1910 to 1916 as a Professor in Agricultural Education. In 1928, Bricker traveled with President Hoover to South America. He authored many books, including Agricultural Education For Teachers (1914), a book still held by many libraries today.

Halsey B. Knapp was born in 1888 in Port Byron, New York. He attended the NYS College of Agriculture at Cornell University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in 1912, and a Master of Science in Agriculture in 1913, also from Cornell. Knapp was the first Director of the New York State School of Agriculture at Cobleskill, in upstate New York, serving from 1916-1923.

In November 1923, Halsey B. Knapp took over the Directorship of what was then called the New York State School of Agriculture at Farmingdale.He was instrumental in transforming Farmingdale from an agricultural institute to an "Ag&Tech." He was strict with his staff, supportive of his students, and was well known for his annual lecture given to the students as they sat on the lawn in front of Thompson Hall.

Knapp announced his retirement on February 23, 1956, at the 37th Annual Country Life-Open House Program, and retired in June of that year. "The sixty-six students he found enrolled in 1923 when he assumed the Directorship had grown to 1,412 full-time students when he retired in 1956" (Cavaioli, 1984). After retiring, Knapp went on to lead a project for the State Department to aid in rebuilding the agriculture college of the University of the Philippines. He was later a consultant for the United Nations, served as VP and Chair of the planning and policy committee of the Near East Foundation, and remained active in Rotary International. He died September 7, 1976, at his home in Stony Brook, NY.

Information excerpted from archival document Halsey B. Knapp and the Agricultural and Technical Institute at Farmingdale, Frank J. Cavaioli, PhD.  Click on photos for larger version.

Click on photos for larger version.

Mr. William Medesy came to our campus in 1956 and was president until 1960. Before his time at Farmingdale, he earned a Master's Degree in Forestry, and worked for the US Forest Service. He also taught Forestry at the University of New Hampshire, and served in WWII. He moved to Colorado in 1960 to become the first president of Rangely College, which is now called Colorado Northwestern Community College. He then served as president of Mesa State College from 1963-1971. Mr. Medesy passed away on February 1. 2000, in Aurora Colorado. A tribute to Mr. Medesy was presented before Congress on February 14, 2000.

Charles W. Laffin, Jr. was president from 1961 until his death in December 1976. Laffin Hall, the newly renovated building housing all student services, is named in his honor.

Dr. Laffin held a Bachelor's degree from Colgate University, a Masters from Syracuse, and a Doctorate in Education from NYU. During WWII, he served in North Africa and Italy. Before coming to Farmingdale, he was instrumental in setting up Nassau Community College. click on photos for larger version.

Click on photos for larger version.
Dr. Frank Cipriani's history at Farmingdale dates from 1964 when he began as an Assistant Dean in the School of Continuing Education. He rapidly rose through the ranks, becoming Vice President for Administration in 1967. In 1967, he achieved the rank of Professor of History, Politics and Geography.

Dr. Cipriani served as an officer in the United States Air Force and received his PhD from New York University. During his tenure as President, from 1978-1999, the campus went through an enormous change, recreating itself as a 4-year college of applied science and technology.  

The following is excerpted from the program of the Inauguration of Jonathan C. Gibralter, PhD, President, November 2, 2001.

Jonathan C. Gibralter, PhD, assumed the presidency of the State University of New York at Farmingdale on June 1, 2001.

He was born in New Hyde Park, New York.

Prior to his appointment, Dr. Gibralter served as Interim President at Corning Community College, and as Dean of Academic Affairs. In addition, he was the Dean of the Rome Campus of Mohawk Valley Community College. His corporate and community outreach included serving on the boards of the Corning City Planning Commission, Community Services of Steuben County and the Corning YMCA. Within the State University System Administration, he served as co-chair of the SUNY Provost Task Force for General Education.

He also participated in the League for Innovation in Community Colleges and attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education Leadership Institute (MLE). Dr. Gibralter earned his PhD in Child and Family Studies from Syracuse University, his Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology from New York University, and his Bachelor's Degree from Binghamton University.

Dr. Gibralter assumed the presidency of Frostburg State University in the Summer of 2006.  

W. Hubert Keen, PhD, was appointed President of Farmingdale State College on January 11, 2007, after serving as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs since February 2005. He served from 1999 to 2005 as Special Assistant to the System Provost in the State University of New York where he was responsible for system-wide initiatives in the areas of teacher education and University System collaborations with the K-12 schools. He was the SUNY System Administration liaison to the New York City public schools and led the development of the SUNY Urban Teacher Education Center in the city. Prior to joining System Administration, he served as Interim President at SUNY College at Old Westbury, and from 1994 to 1998 he was Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at York College in the City University of New York.

Dr. Keen began his career in 1976 as an Assistant Professor of Biological Science at SUNY Cortland and served for twelve years as Associate Professor, Professor, Coordinator of the Environmental Science Program and, from 1983 to 1988, as Chair of the Department of Biological Science. He then served as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Cortland for six years, until 1994. His teaching and research areas are in ecology, environmental science, evolutionary biology, aquatic biology, and biostatistics. His research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the SUNY Research Foundation, and other agencies, yielding more than twenty refereed research papers in population biology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary biology. He is also the author of several short biographies of prominent figures in science, technology and education as well as articles on various topics in higher education.

Dr. Keen has been awarded fellowships from the U.S. Fulbright Commission, the U.S. Public Health Service, and the German Academic Exchange Service. He earned the BA in Biology and German from Pikeville College in Kentucky, his MS in physiological ecology from Eastern Kentucky University and the PhD from Kent State University in ecology.

John S. Nader was appointed the ninth president of Farmingdale State College effective July 15, 2016. He served as Provost at SUNY Delhi since 2009. From 2012-2013, he was president of the SUNY Chief Academic Officers organization.

Dr. Nader was instrumental in obtaining approval to develop a fully online RN to BSN degree at Delhi, which continues to receive national recognition. Dr. Nader spearheaded the college’s fully online summer school, which serves over 1,000 students.

Previously, John Nader was the College’s Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, overseeing the introduction of new degree programs. As both provost and dean, Dr. Nader focused on promoting student success through improving advisement, expanding scholarship support and promoting community engagement and service learning opportunities for students.

When asked about building bridges between the academic and student affairs divisions, Dr. Nader agreed that the totality of a student’s experience depends on both student life and academic affairs, since students grow in ways not related to the classroom and labs.

From 2006-2010 Dr. Nader was Mayor of the City of Oneonta. Dr. Nader is an avid sports fan whose family owned a minor league baseball team long affiliated with the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers.

Dr. Nader received a BA in Politics from Ithaca College and an MA and a PhD in Economics from the New School for Social Research.

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Thomas D. Greenley Library

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