Retiring Library Dean Frieda Davison looks back on an eventful career.
The financial crisis of 2007-2008 was one of the scariest times for our campus. Colleges and universities throughout the state (and nation) were slashing budgets, including laying off or furloughing personnel. Endowments plunged, state legislative support declined, and tuitions were raised in response. But in a university-wide meeting one afternoon, our then-Chancellor John Stockwell announced he had no plans to lay off or furlough any of the Upstate family. He was putting personnel first, recognizing that those who would suffer the most were the very ones who could withstand it the least. He explained we would have to do our part, though, by conserving what funds we did have and freezing all vacant positions, including any that came open in the next 12-18 months. And it worked. There were no layoffs or furloughs. We survived, recovered, and flourished. The celebration that comes to mind was our university’s 40th anniversary, when we acknowledged not only the university’s founding in 1968, but also what was going on that year – some of the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam War. Probably the most memorable of our commemorative events was bringing “The Wall That Heals” to campus. This is a smaller scaled replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. Two veterans support motorcycle groups, Rolling Thunder and Patriot Guard, escorted the tractor-trailer carrying the wall, and all along the route, adults and schoolchildren lined up with “Welcome Home” signs and waved flags. The arrival at the Upstate campus was quite the sight – the buildings shook from the sounds of 1,300 motorcycles!