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150 Years of Geneseo

As we share the history of the College, we wish to acknowledge that SUNY Geneseo resides on the historic homeland of the Seneca Nation of Indians and the Tonawanda Seneca Nation. This acknowledgement is intended as a respectful recognition of a painful history, and we believe is particularly important in light of Geneseo’s educational mission and its Community Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


The Beginning

SUNY Geneseo opened its doors in 1867 as the Wadsworth Normal and Training School, which issued state-certified teaching credentials to students on completion of two- or three-year academic and training programs.

Old Main
1891 faculty


A Growing Institution

 A training school was added to the back of the Normal School and enrollment doubled during the decade.


First Athletic Competitions

The football and men’s track and field teams participated in the college’s earliest known intercollegiate athletic competitions.

1911 football team
1905 faculty


Curriculum Changes

The college’s original curriculum was reorganized, now requiring two years of professional study.


World War I

The Normal School sent four faculty and 117 students and graduates to fight in World War I. Eight lost their lives.



Student Teaching Began

The newly established Department of Rural Education began offering real-world student teaching experiences off campus.


Admissions Standards and Selectivity Raised

Admissions tests, a high school principal statement, faculty interviews, and voice and diction tests became required for admission.

Holcomb School
War stamps


World War II

The College faced a 50 percent drop in enrollment during World War II. The Class of 1944 had only one male student.


National Accreditation Arrived, Old Main Said Goodbye

Geneseo earned its first accreditation by the Middle States Association.

The college’s first building, Old Main, was razed to make room for new construction.

Old Main razed
Newton Hall


New Name and Construction Boom

In 1962 the College officially changed its named to the State University College at Geneseo. In 1967 the campus erected seven new buildings. 


Preserving the College's History

The college libraries formed the Genesee Valley Historical Collection and the College Archives Collection, the first systematic effort to collect and preserve SUNY Geneseo history.

Wadsworth family papers dedication
newspaper clipping


Ivy League Reputation

Word of Geneseo’s Ivy League reputation spread and was featured in publications such as Money Magazine and the New York Times.


College Joined COPLAC

The Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges promotes and supports high-quality, public liberal arts education in a student-centered, residential environment.

Sturges Hall
Saratoga Townhouses


New Housing Village Opened

The Saratoga Terrace townhouse-style complex was built as an upper-level student alternative to traditional corridor or suite-style buildings.


A New President, Many Firsts

The Office of Sustainability was established, the first Lavender and Sankofa Graduations took place, and the college’s first chief diversity officer was hired.

President Battles' Inauguration