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Our History

The history of Syracuse University may date back to 1870, but that doesn't mean we're caught in the past.

Vintage black & white photo of the Hall of Languages with main entrance to campus

In fact, we've always been ahead of our time and original in our outlook. We were the first to adopt one official color—a proud orange. We were the first in the nation to offer a bachelor of the fine arts degree, and were founders of the nation's first iSchool . We opened doors for women as far back as 1870, from pioneers that include Karen DeCrow (women’s rights activist) to Eileen Collins (the first female commander of a Space Shuttle). Building on the leading role we played in the first G.I. Bill, we're recognized as the #1 private school for military service members, veterans, and their families—a commitment that will soon expand with the construction of the National Veterans Resource Complex (NVRC). And that's just where we are today.

Today, as in our past, the University's commitment to access honors every individual's potential—and that enriches us all. From the development of an oral insulin to the discovery of gravitational waves, Syracuse's future is bright—and our students, even brighter.


We have been an inclusive and welcoming place since our beginning. At the 1870 inauguration of Syracuse University , Dr. Jesse Truesdell Peck (a founder and first chair of the Board of Trustees) charged the faculty to remember that the University was to be impartial and general. "The conditions of admission shall be equal to all persons... there shall be no invidious discrimination here against woman.... brains and heart shall have a fair chance..."

Commencement Speakers

View a comprehensive list of the Commencement speakers  we've welcomed and welcomed back to lead and inspire us.