series 11 - Lawrence Bethel records, 1946-1964

Identity area

Reference code

US NNFIT SC.FITA.2.11

Title

Lawrence Bethel records, 1946-1964

Date(s)

  • 1946-1964 (Creation)

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series

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Name of creator

Biographical history

Lawrence L. Bethel was President of FIT from 1953-1965. He was considered a prime mover in the expansion of the school and was the driver behind a 10-year, $36 million dollar plan to add four additional buildings to the campus. He was born in Warrensburg Missouri and graduated from Central Missouri State College in 1928. From there, he earned degrees from Columbia and Yale. He was the author of several books on industrial management and opened new doors to link the fashion industries with FIT. He was also instrumental in helping Mexico and Israel set up schools like FIT. He believed that the growth of community colleges was the most significant development in education in the 20th century.

Name of creator

(1944-)

Administrative history

The Fashion Institute of Technology was the brainchild of the educator Mortimer C. Ritter and the menswear manufacturer Max Meyer. The school opened in 1944 on the top two floors of the High School of Needle Trades. By 1951, there was enough support for the institute as well as students enrolled to warrant a degree program at FIT. That year, the school was granted the right to award an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree. FIT received accreditation in 1957 and introduced a variety of courses, including Liberal Arts. During the 1960s, the curriculum grew to include interior design, advertising, and photography as subjects taught at the school. The following decade saw the school expanding to provide Bachelor's (in 1975) and Master's (1985) degree's, after years of lobbying State University Board of Education. FIT can boast about being the first to offer unique degrees in fields taught no where else in the U.S., such as Toy Design and Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design. There are 48 degree programs in total at FIT as of October 2020.

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Scope and content

The records of Lawrence Bethel include programs and guest lists for his inauguration, correspondence, and photos as well as records relating to F.I.T.'s international educational initiatives in accordance with the Agency for International Development of the U.S. State Department. This series also includes speeches and other works written by Bethel.

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