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HLC: I’d put good people in place—Davis Pratt and
Harold Grosowsky, although they didn’t always get along,
and Elsa Kula and Herb Roan. I wanted new challenges
in a progressive place and funding to do it. I saw that
was a possibility in Maryland. I heard from Bucky and
from Morris frequently. I actually hired some of the SIU
grad students to work with me in Maryland, and later in
Buffalo.
Although I was not at SIU in 1970 when everything
blew up—the student riots, reorganizing of the design
department, the death of Shryock, throwing out the
presses and type, and the leaving of Bucky—well, my idea
of a design department was pretty well finished. And it is
shameful what happened to Delyte Morris. He deserved
a better ending. He was too successful, you might say.
He built a world-class university and paid dearly for it. I
brought him east when they canned him. We spent time
together in Washington D.C. when he left the presidency
at SIU. We worked together to get funding for black
colleges. The ordeal in Carbondale and the dirty politics
were too heavy for Delyte. He was a broken man.
AG: John Bis, a 1965 graduate of SIU who ended up
in Buffalo, told me the program you developed there
reminded him of the excitement of the SIU design
department in its heyday.
HLC: Well, I still have the same core values and the
conviction that you can always do more. I’m still working
with overseas projects to fight disease and poverty. Look,
here is the packet for a village in Bolivia. It shows in
drawings and arrows how disease is transferred from
rodents and insects right in the huts where people live.
They can understand the lifecycles of vermin just by the
pictures. You can use it even if you can’t read a word.
I’m still working with their government to get it funded.
Meanwhile, people there are dying needlessly.
We walked through Harold Cohen’s large studio, as he
showed me the prints and drawings he continues to make
and exhibit. There was a theme to them all, whether they
were abstract or figurative. They all dealt with the human
condition. There were Bucky’s models, too, and one of his
sayings high on a wall. It was from a postcard Bucky sent
him two weeks before his death:
“The possibility of the good life for any man depends
on the possibility of realizing it for all men. And this is
a function of society’s ability to turn the energies of the
universe to human advantage.”
Left
, Harold L. Cohen
Dean and Faculty
Research Professor Emeritus,
School of Engineering and
Planning, SUNY Buffalo
(Photo by Steve Rapp)
Center
, In his studio, 1989
Right,
With Mary in their
kitchen, 2010
(Photo by Al Gowan)