Senator James H. Donovan
New York State Senator of Oneida, Herkimer,
Lewis Counties from 1966-1990
Senator James Donovan was born and raised in the Mohawk Valley. He was an energetic and hard working senator. He attempted to meet the needs of his home town and the people of New York State.
Senator James Donovan's first chairmanship in the Senate was the Committee on Roads and Public Works. In 1973, he was named the chairman of the Committee on Mental Hygiene and Addiction Control, and later the chairman of the Select Committee on Mentally and Physically Handicapped. However, Senator Donovan achieved his fame when he was named the chairman of the NYS Senate Education Committee in 1977, and held this post until his death.
Senator Donovan promoted technology in education, because he strongly believed that New York State must use modern technology in its classrooms to compete with the rest of the world.
In his years as Education Committee Chairman, Donovan received budgets from New York Governors who favored New York City in the distribution of school aid. Each year, Donovan led the charge to correct this imbalance. For instance, in the five years from 1985 through 1989, the Governor's budgets gave New York City 50% of all school aid, even though the city had 36% of all state elementary and secondary students. When Donovan and his Senate colleagues finished with the budget, New York City, for those 5 years, got 38% of all school aid. Donovan regarded redressing Governors' inequities in school aid as an annual challenge, and he always met it successfully.
Senator Donovan knew that technology was affecting the workplace, and many people were losing their jobs because they were not trained. He recognized the importance for today's students to learn modern technology within the school system. Whenever new technology appeared to help students learn in a more efficient and effective way, Donovan sought after it and usually won. He obtained funding for many schools to purchase: "Writing to Read," "Writing to Write," (GERIS) Graphics Expression Reading Improvement System, (RATPAC) Reading Achievement Through Publishing Activities, (TNT) Technologies Network Ties, "Starlab" planetariums that could be transported among schools, and financing for the automation and renovation of school libraries. Donovan placed these programs in dozens of schools in his senatorial district.
He established the Parents as Reading Partners Program (PARP). The theme was simple: When parents and children read together, children build reading habits and their reading improves, as do their relationships with their parents. Donovan only asked for 15 minutes a day from parents to read with their child. The program spread throughout the state, to other states and a couple of foreign countries.
As a Senator from the Mohawk Valley, Donovan was a man of the people. His diligent preparation by reading and researching, and his commitment to the community contributed much to his success. Because of his great commitment, he set a record of service that might never be matched again.
AWARDS AND HONORS
During his illustrious career, Senator Donovan received hundreds of awards from organizations across the New York State. These are some of them:
Honorary Doctor of Laws degree, Wadhams Hall College, Ogdensburg, 1990
Gold Baton Award, Utica Symphony Orchestra, Inc., 1987
Americanism Award, Knights of Columbus, New York State Council, 1972
Friend of Reading Award, New York State Reading Association, 1986
Special Award, New York Association for Continuing/Community Education, 1984
Legislator of the Year, New York State Federation of the Council for Exceptional Children, 1974
Construction Man of the Year, Mohawk Valley Builders Exchange, Inc., 1981
Community Service Award, Utica Area Chamber of Commerce, 1987
Legislative Service Award, United Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State, Inc., 1982
Excellence in Education Award, New York City Board of Education, 1984
Legislator of the Year, Dental Society of the State of New York, 1981
Anne B. Gennings Award, New York State Food Service Association, 1987
Terence Cardinal Cooke Gift of Life Award, New York State Right to Life Committee, Inc., 1985
Utica Blue Sox Tenth Man Award, 1985
Human Service Award, City of New York and the Advisory Board of the New York City Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, 1977
Man of the Year, Catholic Charities, 1970
Access Achievement Award, Resource Center for Independent Living, Inc. 1988
Legislative Service Award, New York State Association for Counseling and Development, Inc., 1988
Exceptional State Legislative Leader, New York City School Board Association, 1989
Citizen of the Year Award, Adirondack North Country Association, 1990
Merit Award, New York State Association of Two-Year Colleges, Inc., 1990
Catherine O'C. Barrett Friend of Education Award, National Education Association of New York, 1990
Legislative Achievement Award, American Subcontractors Association of New York State, 1990
Medal for Distinguished Service in Public Education, New York Academy of Public Education, 1990
IN ADDITION, SENATOR DONOVAN RECEIVED THESE HONORS POSTHUMOUSLY:
Senator James H. Donovan Memorial Acupuncture Fund Tri-State Institute of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture
Senator James H. Donovan Scholarship Award for Excellence Consortium for Learning Technologies in New York State, Inc.
Senator James H. Donovan Memorial and Scholarship Funds, Community Foundation of Oneida and Herkimer Counties, Inc.
The Senator James H. Donovan Memorial Scholarship New York State Reading Association
The Donovan annual Christ and Youth Award, named in his honor Catholic Charities, Diocese of Syracuse
Senator James H. Donovan Continuing Education Award Oneida-Madison BOCES
Contributions in Combating Adult Literacy Utica Community Action, Inc.
Siberian Tiger Exhibit dedicated to his memory Utica Zoological Society Rededicated, 2011 as the Big Cat Exhibit
Swimming Pool Bath House dedicated to his memory Town of Trenton
Recognized for championing the passage of legislation for the prevention and treatment of chemical dependency, Insight House, Inc. ,2001
Oneida County Historical Society Hall of Fame Inductee, 2004
Mohawk Valley Education Distringuished Service Award- Education Hall of Distinction- Genesis Group, 2008
THE FOLLOWING FACILITIES WERE ALSO NAMED AFTER SENATOR DONOVAN:
James H. Donovan Science & Technology Building
SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome
Marcy, New York
Donovan Stadium at Murnane Field
Utica, New York
James H. Donovan Education Resource Center
Utica College Institute of Gerontology
Utica, New York
Donovan Memorial Park
Chadwicks, Town of New Hartford
James H. Donovan Community Center Building
Chadwicks, Town of New Hartford
Senator James H. Donovan Room
Oneida County Republican Committee Headquarters
Utica, New York