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Academic Affairs records Labor unions
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Annette Piecora interview, 1994 December 1

Annette Piecora joined FIT in 1977 as a clerical assistant under Gladys Marcus and Jean-Ellen Gibson, the chair of the social science department. Piecora would work in both the personnel department and faculty services department before finding a long-term position in the president’s office. Piecora mentions meeting her husband, Professor Steve Harrington of the social services department, through FIT. Piecora worked with Marvin Feldman and Allan Herschfield, and discusses how she began working for the Board of Trustees as assistant secretary of the college. Piecora expresses excitement for recent funding which would allow distance learning and talks of planning an upcoming 50th anniversary holiday party. She then lists many changes at FIT in faculty and student make-up and also mentions how its rapid growth and budget cuts have led to a loss of community in some senses. However, she credits the important work of the union in restoring gain-sharing relationships and holding the college together. Picora describes her work with the Student Faculty Cooperation which determines funding for various arms of Student Life. Finally, she remembers the dedication of the Marvin Feldman Center and goes on to discuss budget cuts and her own work on the union’s executive committee.

Piecora, Annette

Saul Smilowitz interview, circa 1994-1995

Chair of the Manufacturing and Management Department at the time of this interview, Saul Smilowitz discusses his life at FIT. He began as a student, graduating in 1953, and returned to teach in 1965 and again in 1989 after a brief hiatus. He talks about FIT’s dress code in the 1950s and how the student body has evolved over the years. Smilowitz discusses the department’s difficulty in recruiting for middle management positions in the industry. He describes their upcoming evaluation by the American Apparel Manufacturers Association; only four colleges have been accepted by the AAMA, FIT being one of them. Smilowitz talks about how they train students for the manufacturing industry and how emphasis on swift, mass production has intensified. He mentions the various degree levels offered in his department, and their move from a factory-oriented focus to a liaison-oriented focus. Graduates of the department have high placement rates and have ended up in major manufacturers such as Liz Claiborne, Nike, and Anne Klein. He talks about how alumni come back to check in at premier industry seminars and events such as the Bobbin Show. Smilowitz then discusses ethnic changes at FIT and how many international students return home with a coveted degree. He details remedial and bridge classes that allow students to matriculate to the upper division, and then talks about how active faculty involvement and continuous evaluation of course offerings keep the department current. Smilowitz goes on to discuss issues in the industry such as sweatshops and how they educate their students on OSHA to avoid such abuses. He then talks about union support and the scholarships offered by the AAMA to FIT students. Finally, he expresses pride in the department’s ability to offer real world experience to students during their time at FIT.

Smilowitz, Saul

Interview with executive members of the Union of United College Employees (UCE) of FIT: Joe Garofalo, Judy Wood, Arthur Levinson, & Juliette Romano, 1994 November 14

This is an interview with four executive members of the Union of United College Employees (UCE) at FIT: Joseph Garofalo, Judy Wood, Juliette Romano, and Arthur Levinson. The four begin by explaining their backgrounds and initial involvement with FIT in the 1960s and 1970s. They discuss how difficult it was to get promotions under the administration of Lawrence Bethel, and how the union had to fight for many rights such as faculty status for “non-classroom faculty.” They also discuss the crowded state of the FIT offices before 1976 and the steadying role the union played in such chaos. The four then describe their connections to the NYC labor movement and close relationships with the Central Labor Council and the Municipal Labor Coalition. State and federal connections also played an important role, and Judy Wood describes her active political involvement with councilman Ed Sullivan. The group then mentions their parent organization, the AFL-CIO, and further union connections with the United Federation of Teachers. They take a moment to remember a strike at Radio City Music Hall, and how they convinced a union to pause the strike to facilitate an FIT graduation, kick-starting a long friendship. The group pays homage to Marvin Feldman, an FIT president they found especially supportive. They mention an upcoming negotiation and go one to detail how union negotiations with the school and city work. Finally, the four describe the union’s relationship to students and the creation of the George Levinson Scholarship Fund in fond memory of his legacy.

Garofalo, Joseph

Newt Godnick interview, 1994 November 1

Newton Everett 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.

Poll, Carol

Jean Ellen Giblin interview, 1994 November 21

Jean Ellen Giblin, the Vice President of Academic Affairs at the time of this interview, explains how she came to FIT as an economics professor in 1970. She was later Chair of the Social Science Department as well as the curriculum committee. After a time, she was asked to work on the development of the new upper division program which had a marketing option in international trade. She talks fondly of that creative work and how it led her to become the acting Dean of the Business and Technology Department, and ultimately led to her role at the time of the interview. Giblin reflects on the intimate nature of FIT when she joined and how that has evolved due to the growth of the school and its development of a 4-year program. Industry pushed for the creation of a 4-year program, though FIT maintained an upside-down approach to education wherein specialties were taught before general liberal arts. Giblin discusses FIT’s approval by the Board of Education and SUNY, and then talks about the support provided by the Educational Foundation. She talks about how industry advisory boards keep each program relevant, and then launches into a discussion about FIT’s international and domestic student body and how it has evolved through the years. FIT has also evolved its own programs to serve a wider array of industries in the city. Giblin praises the wide-ranging work of unions at FIT. She then discusses statutory campuses and FIT’s graduate program launched by Bob Gutman. Finally, she talks about the inherent creativity of the faculty and discusses the future of the school.

Giblin, Jean Ellen

Marty Zelnick interview, 1995 April 4

Professor of Interior Design and Chair of the Faculty Association at the time of this interview, Martin Zelnick was hired as a full-time professor in 1969. Zelnick received his BFA from Brandeis University and an MFA of Architecture from Columbia University. He discusses changes in student demographics, noting that students are less traditional and often older than when he started. He talks about how most faculty remain practitioners in their fields, and discusses the linkages between his department and the industry at large. Zelnick notes that professionals can be technophobic, so his students are ahead of the industry’s curve. He mentions that job placement largely falls on faculty and the students themselves, and that most of his students are working long hours during their studies. He touches on the relationship of the faculty association with the union and administration of FIT. He then talks about his hopes to expand the Interior Design Department and his feeling that FIT needs to invest in its graduate programs; he also hopes that FIT will focus on research. Finally, Zelnick says that industry interests can negatively impact FIT’s course development.

Zelnick, Martin

Barry Karp interview, 1994 October 12

Psychology professor Barry Karp began at FIT in 1968 and was tenured in 1971. Shortly thereafter he became active in the FIT union. Around 1986 he became administrator of the Welfare Fund. Karp discusses changes in the department’s coursework and the introduction of classes such as the Psychology of Color. He talks about changes in the student body over his time at FIT and states that FIT has more non-traditional students than at its inception; many students are coming back to school instead of coming straight from high school and the college has gained international appeal. Karp remembers the familial atmosphere of FIT in the 1970s and shares a yearbook from 1969. He mentions FIT’s growing global perspective, and talks about the appeal of their art-oriented Saturday classes for high school students. Finally, Karp discusses his daughter’s time at FIT and how it has led to a successful career in packaging design.

Karp, Barry

Judith Parkas interview, 1994 November 10

Judith Parkas, the Executive Vice President of FIT’s union, discusses her many roles at FIT. In addition to her union work, Parkas was a professor of Biology and Physical Anthropology as well as the project director of the Tech Prep Grant. Over the years, she helped develop and evolve FIT’s curriculum. She discusses the inception of the union and their early contentions with the Board of Trustees. There were also initial difficulties in unifying adjunct and full-time faculty, but Parkas emphasizes how the inclusivity of the union has been hugely beneficial in affecting change at the institution. She discusses how contracts have evolved to be more effective over time, especially thanks to Lou Stoller. She mentions affiliate unions such as the New York State United Teachers union and how FIT’s supportive working conditions have led to low turnover. Parkas talks about the school’s founding around the time of the G.I. Bill, and Shirley Goodman’s lasting legacy at FIT. While FIT’s deep connection with the city and the fashion industry has remained, the student body has become increasingly diverse and international over time. Parkas briefly discusses the differences between the Board of Trustees and the Educational Foundation. Parkas then discusses the development of a 4-year program at FIT, and goes on to describe the Tech Prep Grant that FIT procured from Cauley-Perkins. This program has allowed FIT to implement preparatory curriculum for mid-range high schoolers as well as secure summer employment. Parkas mentions distinguished alumni, and a couple fond memories of her own at FIT. She finishes the interview with a run down of her political involvement around the city.

Parkas, Judith

Interview of Philip Milio, Nancy Grossman, and Lynn Glazer, of the Student Activities Office, 1994 November 17

Carol Poll interviews Nancy Grossman, Philip Milio, and Lynn Glazer about their work in the Student Life office at FIT. Glazer, the program coordinator, began at the office in 1969 in a clerical capacity. Grossman, the director of Student Life, began in 1973 when it was known as the Student Activities office. Grossman discusses their 1975 move to 242 W. 27th Street, a shared building with the counseling office. Grossman then discusses early programming such as a disco night at a student pub called “Binsky’s,” named after labor leader David Dubinsky. Philip Milio joined the office as a student in 1971. After matriculating at FIT thanks to a portfolio of photos taken during his service in Vietnam, Milio became involved in student government, ultimately becoming their President. Milio discusses his internship under Grossman and the founding of FIT’s craft center, which began with a pottery wheel and darkroom and eventually hosting classes on belly dancing and ethnic cooking among other activities. The group discusses the benefits of programming for students, especially as diversity has increased at the school. Many students find a home for their identity while others have discovered a true passion and redirected their careers. The group then introduces the annual leadership retreat, begun in 1971. Faculty advisers are required to take an 8-week training course before leading the students on retreat, and the program has been so successful that Student Life paired with the Sociology Department to develop a course based on the same tenants. Grossman discusses barriers to teaching for “non-classroom faculty,” and then they launch into an in-depth discussion on student government at FIT. They then describe the birth of “Icon,” FIT’s literary magazine. Launched in 1977 as “There’s a Future in Plastics,” the magazine has expanded beyond literature to include student artwork. The group discusses FIT’s first talent show in the early 1970s and then shares special memories such as a list of couples who met at FIT and the dramatic demise of FIT’s dress code. Finally, they talk about how the relationship between the union and student government has grown and how grateful they are for the community at Student Life.

Milio, Philip