As an establishment with over 150 years of history, UR is certainly different than it was at its founding. Even over the past 60 years, the University has seen widespread changes in all areas.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with a man who attended UR in the mid-1940s, and saw a different picture of life on the River Campus than that which exists now.
Arthur Kauffman currently resides in Ft. Myers, Fla. and attended UR between 1941 and 1943 before leaving to join the US Army. Kauffman was a member of the class of 1945.
“I was in the school of mechanical engineering, and most of my time was spent doing the basic subjects like English and other courses you needed to graduate,” Kauffman said. “I also had labs in the engineering department where I had to make drawings and work on projects that we built right there in the shop.”
The lab, for Kauffman, was located in Gavett Hall – the same building that houses divisions of the School of Engineering to this day.
Another memory Kauffman recalled was lunch, usually served in Todd Union. Then, like today, Dining Services and the student body had a rather tenuous relationship.
“One time, they decided to raise the price of a glass of milk in Todd, and I was in this group called the Geneseeans,” Kauffman said.
“We decided that we were going to bring our own milk, and sell it for a nickel a glass instead of the price that they were asking for – and we sold a lot of it. Finally, they gave up, and returned the price of a glass of milk back to 5 cents.”
Todd wasn’t the only place that Kauffman frequented. A large part of Kauffman’s work was also done on-campus.
“I did my homework wherever I could find a spot to spread out with my books,” Kauffman said. “I do remember going up in the Rush Rhees stacks – it was quiet and I could concentrate and get my work done.”
Also, like many current students, Kauffman held an on-campus job in his time here.
In his time at UR, Kauffman forged friendships that would last him a lifetime.
“My friend Mike Klein was sort of my mentor – he was a junior when I was a freshman,” Kauffman said. “Later on, Mike became mayor of Sanibel [a Florida town close to Kauffman’s home]. I was very honored to be his friend.”
Despite not graduating from UR, Kauffman sees his time here as well-spent, and does not regret his decision to leave.
“The head of the draft board promised that if I did not enlist into the army, he would keep me out of the draft so I could continue my education,” Kauffman said. “The reason I didn’t do that was because I couldn’t stand being home while my cousin and other friends went into the service. At that time, it just didn’t seem patriotic.”
Kauffman left UR before graduating, but never truly left behind his ties to the city.
Majarian is a member of the class of 2008.