Dr. Swetman

Material Information

Dr. Swetman
Creation Date:
Physical Description:
8" x 10"


Subjects / Keywords:
Oswego Normal School--New York--Oswego
School Principals
Swetman, Ralph W.
Negative, Film
8: Communication Artifact ( nmc )
Documentary Artifact ( nmc )


Ralph Waldo Swetman, Principal, 1933 - 1946. ( eng )
A native of Camden, New York, Ralph W. Swetman (1916-1957) was educated at Hamilton (Phi Beta Kappa), Colgate, Columbia and Stanford, where he earned his Ph.D. He taught for a while in Puerto Rico after completing his Junior year at Hamilton College. Later he taught in Tempe, Arizona. He moved to Oswego with his wife Alice to become head of the Normal School in 1933. ( eng )
Energetic and informal, Swetman was a strong contrast to his predecessor. He raised standards in "every area of the college and its programs, including student, faculty, methods, cirriculum, buildings and grounds." Among those on the staff when Swetman became principal, only one had earned Ph.D. and 55 per cent had no degree at all. He required that those wishing to remain obtain master's degrees by 1935. Many faculty members returned to school to complete their studies; others resigned or retired. As he built his new staff Swetman attempted to cut down on inbreeding and scoured the country for the best possible candidates he could find for each position. ( eng )
Swetman endorsed the progressive philsophy of education promoted by John Dewey. Of progressivism Dorothy Rogers writes: "Academic abstraction gave way to problem-solving, philosophical indecision to confident certainty." She further writes that Swetman ". . . was single-minded in purpose, and his cause was teacher training." Wide-sweeping improvements in the curriculum at Oswego made the course content more useful and required that courses be correlated. Swetman separated content courses from method and established an organization by departments instead of individual chairs of instruction by subject matter. Many improvements were made in the Industrial Arts curriculum with an eye toward Oswego's being authorized to award an Industrial Arts degree (in addition to the normal school diploma). In 1938 the 4-year curriculum became standard to all normal schools, and in 1939 the University of the State of New York extended degree-granting privileges to all special departments of state normal schools. The school conferred its first Industrial Arts degrees in 1940. Oswego changed from a normal school to a teacher's college in 1942. ( eng )
Swetman realistically began acquiring land for the college's expansion and planned for the building of a gymnasium, heating plant, campus school and addition to the Industrial Arts building. These plans were not realized during his adminstration due to the curtailments caused by World War II. After seeing the college through the trying times, he retired in 1947 when disabled by a heart attack. ( eng )
"Swetman, without doubt, is among the great men in Oswego's history. He stands out as a rich personality and one of the institution's significant benefactors. He jolted the school out of its complacency and improved its sagging fortunes. He preserved it from stagnation at a time when such help was sorely needed." ( eng )
- Dorothy Rogers ( eng )
"Oswego: Fountainhead of Teacher Education" ( eng )
Negative. ( eng )
[Enlarged exhibit image - 2005.006.0001, Folder 01-86] ( eng )
General Note:
CAPTION:Dr. Swetman

Record Information

Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
2005.006.0074 ( accession number )

OswegoDL Membership

PastPerfect Photograph Collection