Oral History - Robert Burns

Dublin Core


Oral History - Robert Burns


Clip from oral history interview with Robert Burns (Former Facilities Program Coordinator, Director of Facilities, and Director of Alumni Relations at SUNY Potsdam), interviewed by Joel Ehrlich on November 9, 2012.


Burns, Robert. Interviewee.
Ehrlich, Joel. Interviewer.


SUNY Potsdam. College Archives & Special Collections.


November 9, 2012


The oral history was conducted as a part of SUNY Potsdam's Fall 2012 "Oral History" course (ANTH 364/HIST 450).





Oral History Item Type Metadata


Ehrlich, Joel


Burns, Robert


Robert Burns' home (Potsdam, New York)


[Transcript of clip]

RB: Crane was a challenge, a very significant challenge, they were building the whole new thing all at one time. It was just like Maxcy Hall for health and Phys. Ed, it was one big complex that was going to serve all of the purposes for music education. Two performing areas: the concert hall and music theater, all the practice rooms, all of the special areas, and had to be acoustically treated. As you go in you’ll find so many rooms they did not have parallel walls, you would have one room that looked like this and the next room would look like that. (hand gestures showing oddly angled walls) so if you go into a lot of the faculty offices, because they also served as performance areas, the students would come in one on one with the faculty member and they would be playing. Well they could not have the sound bouncing off the walls the wrong way so they all had to be the same thing as the performance areas.


1 minute : 7 seconds.

Time Summary

0:00-2:24 Introduction to Potsdam, life after college, work before Potsdam
2:25-4:55 First job at Potsdam, how construction planning worked, architects, higher authorities for construction
4:56-8:05 Choosing building contents, faculty input on contents, architect input, architects preferences on design
8:06- 12:40 Mason shortage at SUNY Canton, building constructed before coming to Potsdam, expansion of campus and increase of students, issues with increasing student body
12:41-17:40 Typical day working for physical plant, changing the buildings during construction, choosing the contents of a building, getting the contents of a building
17:41-21:55 Power outages, solving construction problems, doors and paving brick, issues with contractors, last minute issues
21:56-24:28 Travel and reasons to travel, meeting with people from other SUNY colleges about construction
24:29-26:06 Favorite building Maxcy Hall, complexity of Maxcy Hall
26:07-34:42 Dormitory buildings, The Crane complex construction issues, design problems, acoustics problems for concert hall and solution, air conditioning and heating
34:43-36:00 Contractor issues, change orders, time spent working.
36:01-36:50 Narrator pauses to get water
36:51-42:50 Building constructed, physical plant expansion, steam tunnels connecting older buildings, power outages, local response to power outages, contractors and problem solving
42:51-47:37 Job title change, equipping the buildings, problems with Brainerd Hall windows, issues with large windows in Kellas and Timerman, opinion of how the newer buildings looked
47:38-50:38 Architect’s decisions about design, leeway given to architect, other potential architects
50:39-53:20 Work for the office of Alumni Relations, leaving SUNY Potsdam, Village Administrator
53:21-58:48 Problems with students, sit-ins and protests on campus, graffiti on the fence around the college union construction site, rumors about construction
58:49-1:02:45 Relations between students faculty and the town, Town and Gown Committee, beer blasts, final comment



Burns, Robert. Interviewee. Ehrlich, Joel. Interviewer., “Oral History - Robert Burns,” SUNY Potsdam College Archives & Special Collections Digital Collections, accessed July 23, 2024, https://omeka.potsdam.edu/items/show/27.