16. Dowling College

Idle Hour Vanderbilt Estate in Oakdale Long Island, former site of Dowling College
Dowling College was a private college on Long Island that closed in 2016.

Dowling College was a private college on Long Island with a similar story to Briarcliff College. Dowling opened in 1968 in Oakdale on the site of William K. Vanderbilt’s Idle Hour estate. Idle Hour was a Gilded Age mansion built in 1882, later serving as a temporary residence of gangster Dutch Schultz and a short-lived artists’ colony. Adelphi College, the first in Suffolk County to offer four-year degrees, purchased the Vanderbilt estate in 1963 and launched the college, naming it after city planner Robert W. Dowling.

The Oakdale campus, also called the Rudolph Campus, was located along the Connetquot River. The mansion housed the administration and the Kramer Science Center. A fire damaged the mansion in 1974, destroying three rooms; the mansion was renamed Fortunoff Hall after Alan Fortunoff, who guided the restoration. Under President Dr. Victor P. Meskill, the college expanded to Brookhaven and Melville, though he was forced to step down after Dowling’s debt grew substantially. Despite the help of Stony Brook University, the college announced it would close in 2016 after additional financial struggles.