Biographical / Historical
Friends World College was conceived as an accredited, co-educational, degree-granting liberal arts college combining a residence program with the opportunity for foreign travel and study. Planned as a "college without walls," it was sponsored by the New York Yearly Meeting and opened in September 1965. It was merged into Long Island University in 1991.
It began with a proposal made by George Nicklin in 1958 to the New York Yearly Meeting for a new college to be formed on Quaker principles and incorporating the social ideals of the era. A committee on a Friends College was established. In the summer of 1963, a six-week experimental summer program was directed by Harold Taylor, and in 1964, Morris Mitchell was hired by the NYYM as the first president.
In 1965, the NYYM approved the opening of a Friends World Institute program and the State of New York issued a charter for a non-degree granting program. The first classes opened in September 1965 with forty-one students at a temporary home campus located at Mitchel Garden, Westbury, in Nassau County, New York.
In 1968 the Institute was granted a provisional charter as Friends World College, permitting it to grant the Bachelor of Arts degree. Within the next few years, programs were established in Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and rural Canada, and the home campus was moved to Lloyd Harbor, Huntington, NY. However, the College was unable to establish a secure financial base, and student enrollment remained undependable because the drop-out rate was high.
In 1975, Friends World College became legally independent of the New York Yearly Meeting, and a Friends World College Association was established. Burdened by continuing financial pressures, by 1990 Trustees of the College were considering the merger of FWC into Long Island University. The FWC Board approved the transfer of assets from FWC to LIU as an endowment in 1991; this transfer was opposed by the Friends World College Association and a group of concerned friends who named themselves the Friends World Defense Fund and subsequently Pac Amicus.
Mary Cushing Niles (1900-1993) was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of William Travis and Mary Cushing Williams Howard. She was a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and did graduate work at Columbia University. She married Henry Edward Niles in 1923, and they had two daughters, Cushing and Alice. Her career in management included pioneering the field of human relations. She worked as an editor from 1925-1928 and was a partner with her husband in management consulting from 1931-1939. From 1941-1957 her employment included organization and management issues for the United States Civil Service Commission, assistant to the chairman of the Federal Personnel Council, eighteen months in the Truman White House, and the establishment of an national management institute for the government of India. Mary-Cushing Niles authored several books and numerous articles on management and lectured throughout the world. She was a full-time delegate to the International Management Congress and taught at American University from 1947-1953.
Mary Cushing and her husband joined the Society of Friends in 1951, and she was active in Stony Run Monthly Meeting (Maryland). She was a member of the General Committee of the Friends Committee on National Legislation and chaired its Policy Committee from 1958-1974. She was a founding trustee of Friends World College and served as a member of its Board from 1965-1992. From the College's opening to its merger with Long Island University in 1991, she was deeply involved with many aspects of its management. In particular, she played an integral role in developing the Southeast Asian program through numerous trips to India and around the region, establishing contacts and aiding in the development of the centers in India and Japan. Deeply committed to the College, she worked to improve its financial situation through fundraising projects.
Her life-long interest in international affairs was expressed through extensive travel and participation in many organizations. She and her husband retired to Broadmead Lifecare Community in Cockneysville, Maryland, where they died in 1993.