Senator James H. Donovan

  • senator donovan
    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.

    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


    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


    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