Traditions

Colgate University’s present success and vision for a bright future is rooted in a rich, 200-year history.

66th
Oldest US college
200
Bicentennial 2019
13
Lucky number
Baptist Literary and Theological Seminary seal, circa 1820.

Our Origins

In 1817, 13 men met in the frontier settlement of Hamilton, N.Y., to found the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York. They are said to have backed up their experiment in education with 13 dollars and 13 prayers, which is why 13 is considered a lucky number at Colgate.

Colgate’s Origins

To contemplate the future, it is wise, first, to consider Colgate’s history and the ways in which the university’s unique characteristics have emerged.

President Brian W. Casey
Mabel Dart, who attended the university, then called Madison, from 1878 to 1882.

Our People

Great universities are built by great people. Generations of Colgate graduates and faculty have made the university a leading American liberal arts institution. One example: the institution’s first full-time female student, Mabel Dart, who attended the university (then called Madison) from 1878 to 1882.

Colgate’s People

The Chemistry Laboratory, now Hascall Hall, in 1886.

Our Campus

Colgate is known as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. There are 88 buildings, approximately 10 miles of roads and walkways, and an estimated 2,300 trees — most common are sugar maples and northern red oaks — on the 575-acre campus.

Colgate’s Campus

Colgate Songs

When through thy valley, Fair Chenango twilight falls,
Bringing its silence
To our college halls;
In that happy moment,
Love for Alma Mater swells,
And the heart outpouring,
Of her glory tells:

(Chorus)
Colgate, Alma Mater,
Fairest theme of all our lays!
Colgate! Alma Mater,
Ever blest, thy days.

Far from thy valley,
Yearly rove thy loving ones,
Yet, in their dreaming,
E'er thy name returns;
'Tis the same fond spirit
Which the mem'ry lingers o'er
And our lips but echo
That old song of yore:

Repeat chorus twice

Alma Mater, mother dear, 
Reverently we raise. 
To the guardian of our youth, 
Grateful hymns of praise. 
Robed in honor, crowned with light. 
Radiant dost thou stand. 
And thy love in every heart, 
Rules with sweet command. 

Alma Mater, mother true! 
Loyal sons would we, 
Strong in heart, with ready hand, 
Give our lives to thee. 
Noble, fair and wise art thou, 
And thine influence pure. 
With the grandeur of thy hills, 
Ever shall endure.

Hark the strains of martial music ringing, 
Sound of voices raised in joyous singing, 
Colors proudly waving to the sky; 
A host is drawing nigh, Just watch them, 
They march and sing along a triumph song; 
And this is what they sing. 

(Chorus)
Fight, fight, fight for dear old Colgate! 
With Heart and hand now we'll win for thee! 
Oh, we will fight, fight, fight for Alma Mater, 
On to victory we're marching! 
Foes shall bend their knee before us, 
And pay their homage to pow'r so great, 
So let us send out a cheer, and banish all fear, 
While we are fighting hard for old Colgate. 

Repeat chorus

Long ago, in the valley of Chenango, gathered thirteen. 
Funds were low, but abundant was their pluck, in eighteen-nineteen. 
Thirteen prayers were said with rapt devotion, 
Thirteen dollars set the thing in motion, 
Thus began old Colgate University in eighteen-nineteen. 

Live true to the memory of those thirteen men of yore. 
Whose faith made tradition that shall live for evermore. 
Whose deeds give us courage to strive as they strove then. 
'Tis the spirit that is Colgate, dear mother of men. 

Up the hill, with profound determination, journeyed thirteen. 
Ring of ax rent the silence of the woods in eighteen-nineteen. 
Forest monarchs bowed to form a clearing, 
Hymns triumphant blended with the cheering. 
Thus began old Colgate University in eighteen-nineteen. 

Live true to the memory of those thirteen men of yore. 
Whose faith made tradition that shall live for evermore. 
Whose deeds give us courage to strive as they strove then. 
'Tis the spirit that is Colgate, dear mother of men.