Colgate had its beginnings in 1817 when six clergymen and seven laymen founded the Baptist Education Society in Hamilton, NY. In 1819 the Society was granted charter for a seminary in Hamilton and the school opened in 1820.
In 1823, Baptists in New York City, soapmaker William Colgate among them, combined their seminary with the one in Hamilton to form the Hamilton Literary and Theological Society. In 1846, the name changed to Madison University, and in 1890 became Colgate.
The school has been non-denominational since 1928, when its theological branch merged with a seminary in Rochester. The school has been coed since 1970.
The Colgate campus sits atop a hill above Hamilton, NY and is surrounded by farmland. There are stately old limestone residences and academic buildings at the top, interspersed with modern architecture further down the hill. The lower campus is distinguished by Taylor Lake and the fields that serve as Colgate’s “front door.” Broad Street, at the bottom of the hill, has many of the theme and Greek houses, and leads into downtown Hamilton.
For students, the main hangout on campus is the Coop. It has a dining hall, study room, computer lab, mail center, print shop and convenience store. Outside, Colgate students enjoy the freshman quad, Cutten Hill and Curtis Circle. People bring blankets and books and soak in the sun. Others play Frisbee or play catch on the pretty, tree-lined campus.
Colgate is in the village of Hamilton, in central New York. It’s approximately one hour from Syracuse and Cooperstown. Hamilton’s major source of revenue is the university and its students so the two are to some extent interwoven. Students hang out in downtown Hamilton, patronizing spots like the Barge Canal Coffee Shop for hanging out and drinking coffee. Next door is New York Pizzeria, or “Slices”, a favorite late-night destination for hungry, tired, and intoxicated Colgate students. After a night of partying booths are filled with friends waiting for a hot slice before the trek home.
The Jug is a well-known bar downtown. Students fill up on drinking and dancing five nights a week, excluding Tuesday and Sunday. To ensure they bypass the notoriously long line, students try to get there before 12:30am.
Approximately 10 miles from campus are the Chenango Valley hills, ideal for biking and running. For skiers and more adventurous hikers, the Adirondack Mountains are also close by. New York City is a five hour drive and students sometimes make the journey for a weekend of gallivanting around the big city. For the most part, though, students are content with staying local.
One of Colgate students’ favorite traditions is the annual Spring Party Weekend. Fraternities throw big outdoor parties and everyone is outside jumping from one to the next. There are plenty of BBQs and fun activities. Alumni come back during this weekend to relive their college days.
The CAB Winter Olympics is a yearly event that celebrates the snowy weather. Events like musical chairs, the dizzy bat race and water flip cup are held at Whitnall Field and Huntington Gym. The Community Affairs Board puts on the Olympics, uniting teams from the Greek system, first-year dorms, outdoor education students, and random collections of friends.
When students, faculty, and staff are walking on campus, it is a decades-old tradition to say hello to passersby. The tradition is rooted in a student handbook from the 1900s that stated, “Do not fail to say “Hello” to everyone. Freshmen always speak first.”
The university’s oldest tradition is the symbolic significance of the number 13. Colgate was founded by 13 men who offered $13.00 each towards the building of the school. The first two digits of the zip code equal 13 and the remainder of the numbers’ sum is 13. Colgate’s address is 13 Oak. It is clearly a lucky number for the school.
J. Darius Bikoff (1983) created of Energy Brands, Inc., makers of Glaceau VitaminWater and Glaceau SmartWater.
Ted Griffin (1993) is a film writer best known for Ocean’s Eleven and Matchstick Men.
John Haney (1972) is co-creator of the game Trivial Pursuit.
Andy Rooney (1942) is a radio and television writer.
H. Guyford Stever (1938) was head of National Science Foundation/NASA.
Ed Werner (1971) is co-creator of the game Trivial Pursuit.
Bob Woodruff (1983) is a foreign correspondent for ABC News.
About 80% of Colgate students are involved in one or more varsity, club, or intramural sports. There are 25 varsity teams, more than 40 club teams and 18 intramural sports teams. Club rugby is particularly popular. All varsity sports compete at the Division 1 level and are in the Patriot League, except for men’s and women’s hockey, which are in the ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference). Cornell University is Colgate’s primary rival and students really turn out for the games, if they can get tickets.
In 1932 the Colgate football team finished a perfect season, with a 9-0 record. They remain the only team in history to be undefeated, untied, and not scored upon. They still did not get an invitation to play in the Rose Bowl.
More recently, 1996-2007 were known as the Biddle Years. Under Coach Biddle the Raiders had a .784 winning percentage with an overall record of 58 wins and only 16 losses. Their record against the Ivy League was 28-8. 2003 was a banner year, when the team won Consensus #2 I-AA National Ranking, tied the NCAA Division I Record for Wins in a Season (15) and set the school season record for most wins in Colgate history.
Colgate legend says that students will have their first kiss as a student on Willow Path.
The Baptist Education Society planned to move the school to Rochester, NY but was halted by legal action. Dissenters went on to form the University of Rochester.
Colgate University’s oldest building is West Hall, which was built by students and faculty from stones from the school’s own rock quarry.
Freshmen and sophomores at Colgate mostly live atop the hill where the school’s academic buildings are located. Juniors and seniors, however, have more options off the hill including the University Apartments on College Street, themed or Greek houses on Broad Street, or the newer Townhouses option, open since 2005 and also located on Broad Street.
In Andrews Hall, students live in three-, four-, or five-person suites with large common rooms and bedrooms. These large rooms are ideal for gatherings, making Andrews a huge freshman party dorm. All floors are co-ed except for the first. Stillman Hall is also a hot spot (literally) as it is a smoking dorm. Students live in suites in the east, center, or west parts of the building, and each floor is single-sex. Andrews and Stillman are both made of beautiful stone, have large windows, and spacious living accommodations.
The freshman dorms East and West Hall are the oldest buildings on campus and together with Andrews and Stillman make up the Freshman Quad. Today East is substance-free and houses the Center for Outreach and Volunteer Education. Students live in singles, doubles, or triples, and contribute to the clean and quiet living environment. Gate House is another freshman dorm, originally built as temporary housing. Though the building itself is not particularly large, the doubles are huge. Since Gate House is a bit isolated from the other dorms, the community is close-knit. Curtis Hall houses freshmen in doubles and sophomores in doubles and suites. As the doubles are not exactly spacious, students hang out in the large common areas and “fishbowl” study rooms. The few sophomores on the fifth floor tend to share a close bond, a unique experience not found in other sophomore housing.
Also conveniently located up the hill, Drake Hall is a sophomore dorm with both doubles and large suites. Behind Drake lies Bryan Complex, a building of four dorms connected to the Edge Café. Residents living in Cobb, Parke, Russell, or Crawshaw do not even have to step outside to eat dinner! Bryan is composed of doubles and singles shared by a common bathroom, and its location is convenient for sophomores who want some space, but still wish to remain close to classes. Finally, Cutten Complex houses sophomores in similar accommodations to those of Bryan. Cutten, however, is the only dorm located ‘down the hill.’ Residents feel the burn on their walk to class or Frank Dining Hall, but rejoice in their privacy and proximity to the gym and parking lot.