This is an interview with Doctors Joe Costelli and Barry Ginsberg of FIT. Costelli was the chair of the math and science department at the time of the interview and Ginsberg a retired professor emeritus. Ginsberg begins by describing his start at the institute in 1956 under former Department Chair Bill Leider. At the time there were approximately 20 faculty members and 200 students. He describes the tight-knit quality of FIT and weekend trips to the Hotel Grossinger. In tandem with his work as a math teacher, Ginsberg worked as the director of admissions alongside Marion Brandriss. He explains various internal leadership posts such as his time as the department chair and his time with the faculty committee. He goes on to detail the creation of rudimentary, and ultimately mandatory, arithmetic classes for pupils based on the prompting of Jeannette Jarnow. He then explains the selection process by committee of President Jarvie and his return to teaching, his “first love.” Costelli takes over the interview and describes his educational background in biology and subsequent start at FIT in 1975. Costelli explains the heavy involvement of the math and science department in the running of the school. He goes on to describe the middle states review and the writing of his textbook, Introductory Biology and Molecular Approach. He details the lineages of FIT’s liberal arts deans as well as the chairs of his department, and how the institute used industry input to evolve its coursework. Costelli remembers FIT being run as a tight ship with a hard-line dress code and also recalls the institute’s struggle to procure air conditioning from New York state. Finally, Costelli describes how the demographics of the school have changed and how they move ever deeper into computer-centered learning.
Richard Streiter wore many hats at FIT, but at the time of this interview he was the executive director of the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries. Streiter joined FIT from Pratt Institute as Dean of Students in 1973. He discusses his recruitment by Marvin Feldman and his immediate push for the creation of a comprehensive primary care health service at the school. Streiter fondly remembers the raucous four-year stint of Mardi Gras costume balls held in concert with other art schools as well as FIT’s own talent show. He performed a surprising jazz trumpet set his first year and ended up in the 1976 yearbook for “streaking” at that year’s show. Streiter explains the legislative struggles involved in getting the upper divisions established and commends Feldman for championing FIT’s two-year program. He then talks about how the globalization of the fashion industry is reflected in FIT’s vibrant student body. Streiter discusses the development of Polimoda in Italy and his own move to New Delhi to help establish the National Institute of Fashion Technology. It was a struggle, but Streiter had support from an advisory group in New York and fought for the school’s survival. Upon his return, Streiter held a series of leadership roles at FIT and ultimately became acting director of both the Educational Foundation and the Shirley Goodman Resource Center. He mentions early FIT exhibitions such as the retrospective on Charles James. He then discusses the structure and evolution of the Educational Foundation. Streiter ends the interview with a depiction of an FIT tour through China which he led.
This is an interview with Dean Marion Brandriss, who retired from the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) in 1973. Brandriss explains her work as an English teacher and how she came to work at the City High School of Needle Trades where she met Mortimer Ritter. Brandriss explains how Ritter hand-picked his favorite instructors to help him build what would become the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.). She discusses touring high schools in the spring of 1944 to recruit students for the inaugural class, and offering incentives such as a weekly scholarship to all prospective students. Brandiss started at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) as the Director of Admissions, but elucidates the vast scope of work she and the small team were expected to take on. Brandriss describes the student body demographics, transitioning settings, and evolving admissions policies of the Institute as it continued to grow. Brandriss then explains how departments were added and goes into depth on the particular success of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)?s Fashion Buying and Merchandising Department. Brandriss ends the interview with a recollection of Mortimer Ritter?s insistence on the Institute?s name, saying that he wanted it to resemble that of M.I.T. in sound and flavor.
Newton Godnick, 18 year Chair of the Fashion Buying and Merchandising Department (FBM) at the time of this interview, discusses his introduction to the school and its close-knit nature. He describes the 1965 groundbreaking for new buildings and various delays in their construction. He goes on to comment on how the student body and departments have evolved over the years in positive and negative ways. He mentions FIT’s former dress code and then goes into the history of the buying and merchandising department. He describes the development of the four year program and effects of the 1970s recession. Godnick then details close relationships with the industry, distinguished alumni, and how the Fashion Buying and Merchandising Department (FBM) Industry Advisory Board has affected his department’s curriculum. He discusses the social unrest of the 1960s and 1970s and how FIT changed over those years. Finally, he discusses the formation of the UCE Union and its positive effect on FIT’s standard of education.