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Happy 150th, Oswego

March 15, 2012

For a school not widely known outside its region and professional focus, it is interesting to note a bit about the man who founded a school in upstate New York in the 19th Century that has recently been quietly celebrated for things that we care deeply about on this site:

The Carnegie Foundation awarded Oswego State a prestigious Community Engagement Classification in January 2011… Then in May 2011, Oswego was named to the U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll “with Distinction,” an equally distinguished recognition for the college’s commitment to volunteerism, service learning and civic engagement.

As it happens, the founder of the school was not an obvious candidate to create such a legacy:

Edward Austin Sheldon was born in 1823 to a farm family in Wyoming County, in western New York.

“He was the last person you‘d think would start a college,” said Nekritz, who also is Oswego State’s website director and a member of its sesquicentennial commemoration committee.

“He hated school. He begged his father to let him drop out of school. He said later that he learned everything by memorization and he hated it,” Nekritz said.

As it happens, also, Sheldon was my grandfather’s grandfather and I inherited my middle name from him.  By some odd coincidence, my mother-in-law attended Oswego in preparation for a teaching career.  I think the interest Amie, Seth (who further inherited that middle name), Milo and I all have in “community” can be traced back in some small way, and therefore owes gratitude, to this school in Oswego and its founder.

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