From the Archives

By Shannon Walker

Did you know? We thought about moving to Ellis Island…

In 1959 the U.S. Government was exploring options for the disposal of Ellis Island. Led by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, an appeal was sent out for bids for the island and its properties. One proposal called for using the island’s buildings for the research, diagnosis and training of professionals in the field of mental illnesses. A similar proposal sought to turn the Island into a treatment center for narcotic addiction. However, there were strong feelings that the island should keep some of its “international” flavor since it was the main gateway for immigrants for this country for so many years. Ultimately it was hoped that the site would evolve into an educational institute that focused on educating Americans in the language and cultures of other countries. Somewhere along the line someone thought of the American Institute for Foreign Trade and asked if we would be interested in the property.

For two years the School’s administration contemplated the move. Board members flew to the East Coast for discussion and planning, eventually deciding against it. Through the process, AIFT solidified its original mission and remained true to its founding. The ultimate decision not to move also brought relief to the city of Glendale, the greater-Phoenix area and the state of Arizona as a whole. In a letter from Senator Barry Goldwater to President Carl Sauer regarding the idea of moving the school, dated April 18, 1960, he wrote “…proceed with great caution. If they feel there is a need for this type of school, we have the best one in the world right here. Let them come to Glendale.”

Letter from BGoldwater regarding Ellis Island

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