Biographical / Historical
Ruth P. Ringenbach was born in 1922, the daughter of Edmund Pretakewitz and Frances Xavier Kalisch of Long Island, N.Y. She married Martin Leonard Ringenbach in 1941. In 1964, Ruth and Martin, along with their two children, Paul and Amy Laurel, became members of Westbury Monthly Meeting. Ruth was a member of the Friends World College Association and served on the New York Yearly Meeting Liaison Committee. She was treasurer of the Association from 1978-1985.
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 L. Nicklin, M.D., 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.
In 1965, the NYYM approved the opening of a Friends World Institute program and the State of New York issued a provisional 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. The maximum enrollment was reached in 1972, with two hundred-fifty students. In keeping with its experimental nature, from 1970-80, the College was guided by an administrative structure known as a "Troika," composed of three representatives, a student, faculty and administrative member.
In 1975, FWC became legally independent of the New York Yearly Meeting, and the Friends World College Association was established. The members of the Association were Quakers, and it served in a support and advisory role for the College and Board of Trustees, responsible for monitoring the Quaker character of the College. New York Yearly Meeting established a Liaison Committee composed of members of the Yearly Meeting who served on the Association. Ruth P. Ringenbach (1922-1999), a member of Westbury Monthly Meeting, was a member of the Friends World College Association and served on the New York Yearly Meeting Liaison Committee. She was treasurer of the Association from 1978-1985.
In 1984, the College instituted a controversial Judaic Studies program with Hasidic students. This became an important source of revenue for the College until it was challenged by the State of New York in 1987, creating new financial problems.
Burdened by continuing financial pressures and mismanagement, by 1990 Trustees of the College were considering the merger of FWC into Long Island University. In May 1991, the New York Yearly Meeting Trustees declared that the College was laid down and the assets revert to New York Yearly Meeting. 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 Pax Amicus. A lengthy and bitter legal battle followed.
No longer associated with the Society of Friends, Friends World College continues as a program of international independent study as part of Long Island University.