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Report of Fact-Finding Committee to the Committee for the Establishment of Queens College



Report of Fact-Finding Committee to the Committee for the Establishment of Queens College


A report prepared by the Committee for the Establishment of Queens College which presents arguments and data for the establishment of the College. The proposal to create a free public college in Queens, which was spearheaded by Charles S. Colden, was initially met with much resistance, and even subject to communistic accusations.


Queens College (New York, N.Y.)
City University of New York
Education, higher


Committee for the Establishment of Queens College




Queens College Department of Special Collections and Archives (New York, N.Y.)


c. 1935


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Queens College (New York, N.Y.)


Report of Fact-Finding Committee to the Committee for the Establishment of Queens College

The committee appointed by Judge Charles S. Colden to ascertain the facts that are pertinent to the establishment of a separate unit of Higher Education in Queens County begs leave to submit the following report:


Your committee has made only a very general study of conditions affecting Higher Education in New York City, because of the difficulty of securing accurate data and because of the shortness of the time for the completion of the report. As we proceeded with the study, moreover, we were convinced that the data available are adequate for the purposes of this committee.

The members of the committee desire to express their appreciation at the beginning to all who have cooperated in getting together the material for this report. Nothing in the report or connected with this movement is intended in any way to be a criticism of any person or of any institution. The report is submitted in the hope of pointing out, first, the need for greater support of high education in New York City, and second, the intense need in Queens for the establishment of a unit of higher education in the County.

The study has been made to answer four questions which the committee believes must be answered if serious consideration is to be given to the proposal to establish a college in Queens. (1) Does New York City need more facilities for higher education? (2) Can the population of Queens County support a municipal college? (3) Can the City of New York afford the cost of establishing a college in Queens? (4) Is the Parental School an adequate plant for a college in Queens?

General Statement of the Status of Higher Education Today

A brief general statement of the status of higher education in the United States today, appeared in a local newspaper on August 21. The statement follows:
"Any man or woman who has conscientiously studied the desires, ambitions, and needs of high school graduates this past twenty years must be stimulated by the tremendous changes that have taken place in the educational outlook of our young people. These changes are in line with the dramatic changes that have come about in life itself.
"During the decade between 1910 and 1920, when, as a high school teacher, a man visited the upper grades of the elementary schools for the purpose of explaining the advantages of a high school education, he tried to make the prospect of going to high school as attractive as possible. The boys and girls needed urging. The elementary school was the COMMON SCHOOL, and thousands of its graduates were satisfied with no further education.
"In the decade between 1920 and 1930, increasing numbers of elementary school graduates began to take going to high school for granted, until, by 1930, practically every graduate of an elementary school in our progressive centers continued his education in the high school. Thus the high school, known to our grandfathers as the people's college, became a part of the common school."
"The third great trek of American Youth across the educational borderlands has been emphasized and hastened by the economic depression. Our boys and girls are now voicing their ambition and their need for education beyond the high school. Attendance at college in America has increased more than a hundred per cent in the last ten years. Talk with high school graduates, as a sympathetic teacher does with scores of them every year, and he finds one dominant statement of ambition in reply to the question: 'What do you plan after graduation?' 'I want to go to college if it is possible.' Thus it appears that the college is also rapidly becoming a part of the common school.
"There is no longer any doubt in the minds of college authorities that a much larger percentage of high school graduates must be provided a chance for a college education. This means, in turn, that a much higher percentage of college facilities must be provided at public cost, because one factor in the selective processes for college admission in the past has been the ability of youth to pay for it. If the college, then, is to become in reality a part of our great common schools, new colleges must be provided."

Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur, President of Stanford University, said in a recent statement on this topic:
"Higher education is just in its beginning in this country. It is far from finished. The insistent demand of a changing and developing social order, combined with the vast information already available and the new facts constantly brought by research workers, will compel many shifts and changes. We


should welcome experimentation in this field, both in methods of teaching and content of courses, and in the general set-up of higher education. Time will bring us many things, but it will not bring a decreasing responsibility in higher education, for unless there is some great economic and social debacle it will become higher and higher in its range and scope."

Does New York City Need More Facilities for Higher Education?

What are the facts regarding the number of students clamoring for admission to the City colleges? Table I shows that 20,952 students were enrolled in the Day Session of the three colleges in the academic year of 1954-55. Last year 11,284 new students applied for admission to the three City colleges. Only 6,368, or 56 per cent, of these were admitted; whereas 4,916, or 44 per cent, were rejected. Since the college course is four years in length, it is evident that the City is now facing the need of provisions for 30,000 to 40,000 Day students, basing the estimate on the number of applications for admission to the City colleges in one year (11,284). With the rapid increase in the high school enrollment and graduation, and with the greater proportionate demand for college trained people in the new economic age, the committee believes that provisions should be made by the City for 40,000 college students.

While an enrollment of 20,952 students seems like a generous provision for the City to make for college education, it is obviously wholly inadequate. Those of us connected with the high school know that few, if any, high school graduates are certified to the City colleges unless they meet, in general, the requirements for admission set up by the colleges. Yet, 44 per cent are rejected. The argument that many high school graduates who have met the college entrance requirements (an average of 75 per cent or better, with offerings of five years in the languages and two and one half years in mathematics) cannot profit by higher education, would not be accepted today by authorities in the field.

Table I

Table showing that the High School Graduates of Queens Do Not Have College Advantages Equal to Those Enjoyed by High School Graduates in the City as a Whole. (1)
Present enrollment in New York City High Schools
New York City - 240,135
Queens - 47, 642 (2)
Percentage of Total from Queens - 19.8

Students graduating from New York City High Schools (1935).
New York City - 32,866
Queens - 5,076
Percentage of Total from Queens - 15.8

Four year enrollment in City colleges 1934-1935
New York City - 20,952
Queens - 2,476
Percentage of Total from Queens - 11.4

Students applying for admission to City colleges 1934-1935
New York City - 11,284
Queens - Number not known

Students admitted to City Colleges 1934-1935
New York City - 6,368
Queens - 650 (est) (Slightly more than 1/4 of 247) 3

Students rejected by City Colleges 1934-1935
4,916 (44 per cent of those applying)
1. The data concerning the high school population were furnished by the Department of Education at 500 Park Avenue. The data concerning the college population were furnished by the three City colleges.
2. This number does not include 7,900 students from the industrial high schools. (See Table III)
3. If Queens had received its statistical proportion (15.8 per cent or roughly one sixth) of the 6368 admissions, there would have been 1061 admissions into the City colleges from Queens.

In fact, the general requirements in many state universities today are fifteen units from an accredited high school, which must include four years of English,


a year in American History, a year in the natural sciences, and a liberal choice of almost any subjects offered in the high school. Such standards of admission for New York City would probably enormously increase the applications for admission to the City colleges.

Therefore, on the basis of the figures presented above, the committee is convinced that the facilities for college education in New York City must be greatly increased immediately if the City is to make any claim of adequacy of provision for higher education.

Can the High School Population of Queens Support a Municipal College?

In answer to the question, can the high school population of Queens County support a municipal college, three measures of need were used: (1) A comparison of the high school population in Queens with that of 27 states that support one or more state colleges and universities; (2) A comparison of the high school enrollment and graduates in Queens with that of the City as a whole; and (3) An actual count of the students from Queens that are enrolled in the other City colleges.

First, Table I shows that the public high school population in Queens at the present time, not including the industrial high schools, is 47,642. These 47, 642 students represent a greater enrollment than is found in 19 of the 27 states shown in Table II, all of which states support one or more state colleges and universities.

Your committee has information from the Department of Reference and Research of the Board of Education to the effect that the enrollment in the high schools of Queens is increasing at the average annual rate of 8 per cent. At this rate of increase the enrollment in the high schools of Queens will be above 70,000 students by June, 1940. Comparing this 70,000 high school enrollment, estimated for Queens in 1940, with the high school enrollment in the 27 states (Table II), all of which have state universities, it is obvious that Queens has a high school population that can support, and is entitled to, its own college facilities.

Table II

Twenty-seven States in the Union Have a High School Enrollment of Less Than 70,000 and Support One or More State Colleges or Universities.
State -- H.S. Enrollment
Alabama - 61,054
Arizona - 15,259
Arkansas - 46,280
Colorado - 43,217
Connecticut - 59,350
Delaware - 7,009
Florida - 45,207
Idaho - 27,172
Kentucky - 62,470
Louisiana - 57,843
Maine - 30,005
Maryland - 42,296
Mississippi - 52,288
Montana - 24,787
Nebraska - 68,986
Nevada - 3,762
New Hampshire - 14,158
New Mexico - 12,587
North Dakota - 29,697
Oregon - 47,687
South Carolina - 52,887
South Dakota - 31,338
Tennessee - 69,691
Utah - 32,619
Vermont - 11,600
West Virginia - 48,814
Wyoming - 11,164
Note: Nineteen of these states have high school enrollments of less than 47,642 which is the present enrollment in Queens, not counting the enrollment in the industrial high schools.

Secondly, Table I also shows that 19.8 per cent, or a fifth, of the high school enrollment of New York City is now in the Queens high schools. It also shows that approximately one sixth (15.8 per cent) of the graduates of the high schools of New York City in 1935 were from the Queens high schools. If this proportion (one sixth) of the 11,284 graduates of the high schools applying for admission to the City colleges prevailed in 1934-35, Queens should have furnished 1,861 of these applicants. The number of applicants from Queens to the City colleges is not available; however, there were only 2,476 students (one ninth of the total college enrollment) from Queens in attendance in all four years of the three City colleges. If one sixth of the 6,368 students that were admitted to the Day Session in 1934-35 had been received from Queens, 1061 students would have been admitted from Queens, instead of the estimated 650. This leaves more than 400 students who, for some reason, did not go to college. It is probably a legitimate assuption that these 400 students did not go to a City college because they could not afford the cost of going to another borough for their college education. If a college were established


in Queens, and if the 1061 students were admitted, who may reasonably be expected to be admitted, even under present rigid standards of admission, it is evident that the total number admitted in four years would be more than 4200.

Third, there are at present 2476 Queens students enrolled in the three City colleges. Since 44 per cent of the applicants have been rejected because of lack of college facilities in New York City, it is a conservative estimate that 4000 young men and women of Queens would now be enjoying a college education, if college facilities were available in Queens.

It is apparent, therefore, from these three measures of need for higher education in Queens, that college facilities should now be provided for 3000 to 4000 students.

Can the City Afford a College in Queens?

Having seen the crowded conditions in the present facilities for higher education in New York City, and having heard the crying demand for an immediate doubling of these facilities, and, further more, having demonstrated that the demand for higher education in Queens is more than adequate to support a unit of higher education in the Borough, we now go to the question of the cost of such a unit.

After the college is established the committee sees no reason for college education to cost any more per student in Queens than in another Borough. That is to say, the facilities of instruction for 4000 students located in Queens would cost no more than if the City divided this number of students among the three present colleges and furnished facilities for their instruction. One instructor will be required for each thirty students in any of the City colleges no matter where located. The state standard for library facilities is twenty-five square feet of library floor per student anywhere in the City. The state standards for laboratory facilities in science is based upon the number of students to be accommodated in the laboratories and would be the same in all Boroughs. And so it would be largely with the administrative expenses, which rise with the number of students in the unit to be administered. It appears to the committee, then, that the problem becomes a matter of initial costs, if we assume that the City is determined to meet in any adequate fashion the demands of its youth for higher education. As has been pointed out over and over again the City of New York has available an ideal college plant, the Parental School, which belongs to its educational facilities.

The only extra costs that the committee and the authorities which have been consulted on this matter deem necessary would be those involved in the reconditioning of the plant, the furnishing of college classroom furniture, and the equipment for the administrative offices. The Borough and City authorities have assured our chairman that the work of alteration and redecoration can be taken care of under the W.P.A. at no expense to the City. Prices on the two thousand necessary college lecture-room chairs, the sixty college classroom desks, and the office furniture have been investigated and the committee finds that the $20,000 which was the estimate given at the launching of the College-for-Queens drive, will adequately meet to cost of these items. The extra cost, therefore, should not deter the City from going forward with this project.

Is the Parental School an Adequate Plant for a College?

To the committee members who have been over this campus and through the buildings, this question sounds almost impertinent. Located on one of the highest and most central points in Queens, this plot of 107 acres of land presents the possibility of development into one of the most beautiful college campuses in America, giving adequate room for growth and sports fields for the next fifty years, the committee believes. The twelve modern buildings can, with great ease, be made suitable for college use, and the committee estimates that they will furnish sixty excellent class-rooms. In addition to these 60 rooms, there are a number of smaller rooms available for small classes. With seven periods per day, 5 days per week, and with an average class size of twenty-five students, these sixty class-rooms supplemented by the smaller rooms, will easily accommodate a college enrollment of 3600 to 4000 students.


Table III

Enrollments in the Public High Schools in Queens in February, 1935
High School -- Registers
Bryant - 5,153
Far Rockaway - 2,436
Flushing - 4,266
Grover Cleveland - 5,385
Jamaica - 8,783
John Adams - 6,751
Newtown - 8,589
Richmond Hill - 6,279
Total - 47,642
Note: This does not include 7,900 students in Industrial High Schools.


A Brief Digest of the Report
The Fact-Finding Committee
The establishment of a Free City College in Queens

There is a decided tendency for young people throughout the United States to go to college in larger and larger numbers. The undergraduate college is becoming more and more to be the people's college and higher education seems to be only in the beginning of its expansion in America.

New York City College facilities are already overcrowded to such an extent that the colleges can accept little more than half of those qualifying and applying for free higher education.

By any of the three methods used for measuring the demand for higher education on the part of young people of Queens, a college clientele sufficient to support a college exists in Queens. The three measures used were: (1) A comparison of the high school population in Queens with that of 27 states that support one or more state colleges and universities; (2) A comparison of the high school enrollment and graduates in Queens with that of the City as a whole; and (3) An actual count of the students from Queens that are enrolled in the other City colleges.

If we assume that New York City is to attempt to meet the growing demand for higher education, which we believe she will do, greater facilities must be provided by the City, the least expensive method, we believe, will be to utilize the excellent college plant now belonging to the educational facilities of the City, by converting the Parental School into a Queens College. Since Borough and City authorities have stated that the W.P.A. will take care of the necessary alteration and redecoration of the buildings, it would appear that the only added expense to set up a full-fledged college plant would be some $20,000 for classroom chairs, teachers' desks, and the office equipment necessary to administer a college.

The Parental School plant, consisting of 107 acres of land and twelve modern buildings well suited for college purposes, is located on one of the most central, as well as one of the highest, points of Queens. The existing transportation lines with the additional bus lines which would develop, will adequately meet the needs of travel from all parts of the Borough to the college. The plant will furnish sixty large classrooms, as well as a number of smaller rooms, which the committee estimates will take care of a college enrollment of some three thousand to four thousand students.

Queens County residents have for almost thirty years and are at the present time paying taxes for higher education in New York City. However free college facilities are available to little more than half the young people in Queens County who want, and have a right to, college education.

Respectfully submitted

Samuel A. Rutledge, Chairman
Mrs. William L. Nisbet
Mrs. Charles B. Williams
Mrs. Eleanor Towns
Alonzo O. Briscoe
John Nachman
Ralph R. Temple
Martin H. Weyerauch

Original Format

8.5 x 14 inches (216 x 356 mm)


Committee for the Establishment of Queens College, “Report of Fact-Finding Committee to the Committee for the Establishment of Queens College,” Queens College Archives and Special Collections, accessed July 7, 2022,