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Forty Years of Residential College Life in Binghamton

Hinman College, one of the residential colleges of Binghamton University in upstate New York, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this weekend, and Hinman alumnus Brent Gosch tells us the story in this essay from September 22nd edition of the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin:

Hinman’s legacy

Binghamton University community celebrates man who fought for permanent state-supported college

From Oct. 5–7, a milestone event will take place at Binghamton University. Hinman College, one of Binghamton’s residential colleges, will commemorate its 40th birthday during Homecoming 2007; everyone is invited to help celebrate the college’s unique place in local history.

Hinman College is named after Harvey D. Hinman (1864–1954), a New York State senator and founding member of the Hinman, Howard and Kattell law firm. In the late 1940s, many influential members of the Southern Tier’s political and business communities saw the potential that the small, little-known Triple Cities College had to positively affect the region.

Hinman, Thomas J. Watson of IBM and Triple Cities College President Glenn G. Bartle were given the awesome task of trying to convince not only the State of New York and local municipalities, but also the Broome County Board of Supervisors that it was in their best interest to incorporate Triple Cities College into the State University of New York (SUNY) system. The following is a brief excerpt from my work, The History of Hinman College:

“By December [1949], the overwhelming majority of the Board of Supervisors was in favor of the proposal. This was, in large part, due to the efforts of the committee members, who, through political pressure and pure personal persuasion, were able to convince the supervisors to allocate the necessary funds. Chief among those who threw their political influence around were Harvey Hinman and his son George. Both men made a series of phone calls to key members of the Board of Supervisors, persuading them to vote in favor of the committee’s proposal. Late in November of 1949, Harvey Hinman wrote a letter to all of the members of the board, strongly urging them to appropriate the needed funds. His letter read, in part, ‘I am convinced, as I am confident you will be when you have examined the subject, that failure to take advantage of this rare opportunity to secure a permanent State-supported college would be a grave mistake—a mistake which could not be corrected.’ The existence of this letter shows that the Hinman family, while playing a high stakes game with both New York state and local Broome County municipalities, was in the process of forever leaving its mark upon the new college and the whole of the Southern Tier.”

To acknowledge Hinman’s efforts in helping secure the future of what would become Binghamton University, a new residential cluster of dormitories was built in his name and in his honor in 1967.

Harvey D. Hinman probably had no idea that the residential college that bears his name would mean so much to so many people over the years. Whether in making new friends with suitemates or people across the hall, or participating in Dorm Wars, Hysteria and Co-Rec Football or other of Hinman’s unique traditions—40 years worth of students have been positively influenced by simply being a part of the Hinman College community.

I am not the only Hinman alum who gets emotional when Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” (Hinman College’s unofficial community anthem) is played. This college means that much to us, and without Harvey D. Hinman and his efforts, students such as I (as a four-year Hinmanite) would have not had these wonderful experiences and memories, and there would not be the rich history with which Hinman College is blessed.

Come to the Hinman Commons each day during Homecoming to meet with Hinman alumni as well as peruse artifacts from Hinman’s past. On Saturday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m., in the Hinman Dining Hall, there will be a banquet and slideshow.

For more information on the 40th anniversary celebration and to read The History of Hinman College, visit

Gotsch is a member of Binghamton University’s Class of 2007.

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