Students watching fireworks on campus. Students watching fireworks on campus.

Celebrating 180 Years of Greatness

180 University at Albany State University of New York

Dear Great Danes,

2024 marks UAlbany’s 180th anniversary and I am excited to celebrate this milestone year.

We have come a long way since our founding as the New York State Normal School in 1844. From those humble beginnings, I am incredibly proud of the diverse and impactful university we have become.

The timeline below highlights some of our accomplishments and important moments throughout our history. I hope you will take a few moments to reflect on our impressive legacy: the first Native-American student’s graduation in 1865, the first Torch Light Ceremony in 1930, the groundbreaking of our uptown campus and renaming as the State University of New York at Albany in 1962, our designation as a Research 1 institution in 2000, and our reunification with CNSE last year.

In between each of the large moments that make up the timeline are countless smaller, but equally important moments that made UAlbany the institution we know today. Knowledge unlocked in classrooms, friendships solidified in residence halls, problems solved in research labs, and communities strengthened on campus and beyond – these are the moments that have made UAlbany great.

It is on this strong, 180-year-old foundation that we will continue to build our future, leaning into our research and academic strengths, building partnerships locally and globally, meeting our community’s needs, and remaining steadfast in our mission to serve as an engine of opportunity.

I look forward to celebrating all we have accomplished over the past 180 years and our bright future ahead – I hope you will join me.

Havidán Rodríguez

180th Anniversary Event and Communications toolkit

We will be celebrating the 180th anniversary of the University at Albany at many events over the next year. The major events that will feature the 180th anniversary include:

February 20  Faculty & Staff Winter Social and 180th Kickoff

March 8  Downtown Campus Welcome Center Grand Opening

April 4  President’s Spring Address featuring Medallion of the University & Excellence Awards

April 16  Celebration of Scholarships Dinner

April 19  7th Annual Massry Lecture

April 20  Alumni Association Awards Gala

April 27  The BIG Event

April 30  UAlbany Showcase Day

May 9-12  Commencement

August 21-25  Welcome Week

August 23  Opening Convocation, Class Photo and President’s Welcome Picnic

October 18-20  Homecoming Weekend

December 10  President’s end-of-semester reception and Holiday Greeting Card unveiling

Notable Moments in UAlbany History

May 7, 1844

The State Legislature creates the New York State Normal School, the first state-chartered public institution of higher learning in New York.

December 13, 1844
David Perkins Page

David Perkins Page is named the chief officer, as principal, of the New York State Normal School. In 1847, he publishes Theory and Practice of Teaching, which becomes the most widely used textbook in American teacher education.

May 1850
Caroline Parker, Iriquois student

Nine Indigenous students are admitted, including three members of same Tonawanda Seneca family: Caroline (Ga:hahno), Nicholson (Gye-wah-go-wa) and Isaac Newton (Gane-yo-squa-ga-oh) Parker.

September 25, 1862
Professor of Mathematics Capt. Albert N. Husted ’45

The Normal School Company E, composed of approximately 100 faculty and students, is formed to fight in the Civil War. Led by Professor of Mathematics Capt. Albert N. Husted ’45 and Capt. Rodney Kimball, the company engages in 17 battles, including Gettysburg. Husted Hall is later named for him.

June 28, 1877
Sensaburo Kudzo of Japan

Sensaburo Kudzo of Japan, the school’s first international student, graduates.

January 25, 1884

Evelena Williams becomes the first known African American graduate of the Normal School.


The institution becomes the New York State Normal College with a mission of preparing secondary-school teachers.

October 1890

Delta Omega Sorority, the institution’s first recorded Greek-lettered society, is founded.


The first mention of purple and gold as school colors appears in an article.

May 17, 1897

The inaugural college baseball team plays its first game in Castleton, losing by the score of 5 to 2.


Following a devastating fire that destroyed the college’s Willett Street home, the first three buildings of what is now the Downtown Campus – Hawley, Draper and Husted halls – are completed and open along Western Avenue in Albany.

April 30, 1914

The Normal College becomes the New York State College for Teachers, a formal recognition of its growth into a liberal arts college for teachers.


Professor Agnes E. Futterer ‘16 helps organize the Dramatics and Art Association. Under her 41-year guidance, the dramatics program produced several actors, directors and technicians who worked on Broadway and in Hollywood.

June 14, 1930

The Alumni Association introduces the first Torch Light Ceremony and Procession to initiate graduating seniors into its ranks. The Torch Ceremony is a tradition that continues to this day.

September 1935
Anna E. Pierce, former student (Class of 1884)

The College’s first on-campus dormitory, a women’s residence hall, opens on what is now known as Alumni Quad in midtown Albany. In 1941, it is named Pierce Hall in honor of Anna E. Pierce ‘84, teacher, dean of women and a prime mover in the fundraising campaign for the building.

June 17, 1940
Marcia Brown

Marcia Brown graduates. She will become the first three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal, the American Library Association’s highest award for illustrators of children’s picture books.


More than 500 students and alumni serve in World War II and support the war effort at home. At least 19 lose their lives in the conflict.

May 13, 1949
Pedwin the Penguin

Pedguin, a penguin-like figure, is selected as school mascot in a contest. Paul Kirsch, ’51, who submitted the winning selection, later states he initially called the mascot a pedwin, a nod to the College’s mission to educate future teachers.


Harvey Milk, who would later become a nationally known leader in the gay rights movement and one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States, graduates from the New York State College for Teachers. Harvey House, an intentional living community for LGBTQ+ students on Dutch Quad, is named for him in 2021.

October 31, 1953

The college’s first Homecoming is held. Today, thousands of Alumni return each year to watch the football team and reconnect with friends, faculty and mentors.


Dippikill’s original 700 acres are purchased for $100,000. Generations of UAlbany students, alumni, faculty and staff have since connected through their experiences at the private Warren County wilderness retreat owned by the Student Association.


The Graduate School of Public Affairs was transferred to the State University of New York at Albany. Originally known as the Albany Graduate Program in Public Administration, it was established in 1947 as a joint effort between New York University and Syracuse University to meet the need for academic training in public administration. It was named the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy in 2001.

August 1962

New York Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller leads the groundbreaking for the Uptown Campus. The institution is renamed the State University of New York at Albany and, with its new campus, becomes a University Center within the swiftly expanding SUNY system.

The campus, designed by famed architect Edward Durell Stone, is built on the site of the former Albany Country Club straddling the city line with Guilderland.

May 14, 1965

After a student contest, the Great Dane is chosen as the University’s new mascot. The winning entry is submitted by Kathy Earle ‘67.

Fall 1966

The first classes are held on the Academic Podium of the Uptown Campus, even though the last residential quad, then known as Indian Quad, would not be complete and dedicated until 1973.


The Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) is founded. Since then, more than 5,000 students have proudly graduated from the program, which has also become a model for successful student support programs across the campus and beyond.

Winter 1969

Musical icons Janis Joplin and Pete Seeger perform on campus within a month of each other.


An era of protest and activism, including boycotts of dining halls, protests over tuition increases and budget cuts to higher education, support for civil and women’s rights and environmentalism, and protests over the Vietnam War.


Undergraduate Lou Ringe ’71 founds “Crisis 5300,” a hotline staffed by trained student volunteers to provide peer assistance and referral services to individuals experiencing substance and mental health-related challenges. Now known as Middle Earth, the student organization has trained more than 2,000 undergraduate student volunteers and responds to more than 1,000 calls to the hotline annually.

October 1973

Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance Service, staffed by students, responds to its first emergency, and answers 18 calls in its first month of service. By the 2022-23 academic year, Five Quad was responding to about 800 calls annually.

April 1974

Fuerza Latina, UAlbany’s largest and oldest Latina/o student organization, receives independent funding from the Student Association.

October 1979

With construction of the Uptown Campus complete, the Downtown Campus is officially re-named as such and rededicated with the restoration of Draper and Richardson halls. The schools of Criminal Justice, Library and Information Science, and Social Welfare become the first degree-granting departments housed on the Downtown Campus since the 1960s.

May 1983
U2's impetuous lead singer Bono climbs up and sings upon the scaffolding.

U2 plays Mayfest on the lawn behind the Campus Center in the area that is now the Science Library, leading to an iconic photo of singer Bono climbing to the top of the stage scaffolding and waving a white flag.


Author Toni Morrison is named the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at UAlbany. While at UAlbany, Morrison writes parts of Beloved, a landmark novel of 20th century literature. Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Beloved in 1988 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.


Gov. Mario M. Cuomo signs the legislation creating the New York State Writers Institute at UAlbany. Founded in 1983 by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist William Kennedy with the proceeds of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship, NYSWI has since grown to one of the region’s premier cultural institutions.

September 1984
The Collins Fellow

The Collins Fellow is established. Named for former President Evan Collins, it honors faculty who exhibit extraordinary devotion to the University over a sustained period. The first recipients are Frank Carrino of Hispanic & Italian Studies and Helen Horowitz of Economics.

April 1985

Thousands of students participate in the world’s largest game of musical chairs, putting the game and the University in the Guinness Book of World Records for a time.

Fall 1985

The School of Public Health Sciences opens offering master's and doctoral programs in biomedical sciences and environmental health and toxicology. Now known simply as the School of Public Health, SPH was founded as a nationally unique collaboration between the University and the New York State Department of Health and its world-renowned Wadsworth Center —a close relationship that remains to this day with many of the faculty holding appointments at both institutions.

August 1990
H Patrick Swygert

H. Patrick Swygert assumes office as UAlbany’s 15th president and the first Black president in the University’s then-146-year history. President Swygert served until 1995.


The University is named a Center for Advanced Thin Film Technology by New York for its work in the emerging field of nanotechnology. UAlbany becomes a worldwide leader in this science, establishing a school and then the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

November 3, 1994

President William J. Clinton becomes the first sitting U.S. president to visit the campus during a campaign stop of then-Gov. Mario M. Cuomo.

April 24, 1996
Karen Hitchcock

The SUNY Board of Trustees officially appoints Karen R. Hitchcock UAlbany’s 16th president to succeed President Swygert, making Hitchcock the first woman to lead the University. She would serve until 2004.

November 1, 1996

The East Campus in East Greenbush is formally dedicated as UAlbany’s third campus and the home of the School of Public Health. Earlier in the year, the University at Albany Foundation completed the purchase of 370,000 s.f. of labs that once housed a Sterling Winthrop research facility and that now serve as labs and incubator space for biotechnology and other start-up companies. The Health Sciences Campus, as it is now known, also is the site of UAlbany’s Cancer Research Center.

March 1998

The Science Library, the first new academic space on the UAlbany campus in 35 years, opens, initiating a 20-year period of physical growth.

September 1999

University athletic teams begin their first year of competition at the NCAA Division I level.


The University is designated a Research 1 University by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, signifying the highest level of research and doctoral activity.

September 11, 2001

Nineteen UAlbany alumni are killed during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. On the 20th anniversary of the attacks, UAlbany dedicates a memorial bench to the victims thanks to generosity of alums and other donors.

October 13, 2004

The 194,000-square-foot Life Sciences Research Building opens to foster research and development in the biosciences and eventually house UAlbany’s world-renowned RNA Institute.

May 12, 2012

President Barack Obama visits the University’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, addressing a crowd of more than 650 government, technology and business leaders, scientists, researchers and students: "You have an outstanding university. Now I want what's happening in Albany to happen across the country."

August 2013

The new School of Business building opens. Two years later it is named the Massry Center for Business after a $5.25 million gift from the Massry family to support the School of Business and key University-wide initiatives. It is now known as the Massry School of Business.

September 14, 2013

The new 8,500-seat football stadium opens. The facility will later become known as Bob Ford Field at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium.

November 16, 2014

Women’s field hockey advances to the NCAA tournament semifinals, the first trip to a Division I Final Four in school history.

March 2015

Peter Hooley’s three-pointer completes an improbable comeback and gives the UAlbany men a last-second America East Tournament championship against rival Stony Brook, sending the Great Danes to the NCAA tournament.

Summer 2015

In Schuylerville, the University completes the first installation of a New York State Mesonet site. The Mesonet will eventually grow to 127 weather stations across New York, as well as a series of advanced subnetworks, providing best-in-class early warning weather detection in the country.


The new College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, the first of its kind in the nation, and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences are launched.

March 2016

Down by as many as 16 points and with their star player fouling out with 6:18 remaining, UAlbany rallied to stun No. 5 Florida 61-59 in an NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament first-round game at the Carrier Dome.

July 2016

The University registers its first engineering degree, a BS in Computer Engineering, under the newly established College of Engineering & Applied Sciences. The program is now a BS in Electrical & Computer Engineering and part of the newly expanded College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering.

April 2017

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks to a capacity crowd of 4,500 in what was then known as the SEFCU Arena in a conversation with NYSWI Director Paul Grondahl.

September 11, 2017
Havidán Rodríguez

President Havidán Rodríguez’s first day as UAlbany’s 20th president, making him not only the first Latino to lead UAlbany but the first to lead any four-year SUNY campus.

February 26, 2018

Men’s lacrosse is ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation — a first for any UAlbany Division I team and any Division I program in the SUNY system. In May, the Great Danes advance to the NCAA Final Four.

April 2018

More than 1,300 students, faculty, staff and alumni join the inaugural Big Event, serving 22 community service projects in a massive volunteer effort.

May 2019

Marking the University’s 175th anniversary, UAlbany opened the 50-year-old time capsule buried beneath Dutch Quad when the Uptown Campus was built. The capsule included a letter from students relating what it was like to be among the first living on the new campus. The capsule would not be reinterred for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 12, 2020

UAlbany suspends classes after one of the first two cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Albany County is identified as a UAlbany student living off campus. Students would leave for Spring Break the next day and, as the pandemic took hold, not return for in-person learning until August.


While the COVID-19 pandemic paralyzes the global economy, UAlbany’s world-renowned RNA Institute develops a full-scale, in-house saliva testing program for students, faculty and staff, allowing UAlbany to safely re-open for in-person instruction during the Fall 2020 semester while contributing to the global understanding of the novel Sars-CoV-2 virus. At the same time, faculty from UAlbany’s School of Public Health are deeply involved in some of the earliest COVID-19 research on the spread of the disease, vaccine efficacy, its impact on health care workers, health messaging and other crucial topics.

August 2020

UAlbany formally adopts Our World, Our Future, the official Climate Action and Sustainability Plan for the University in April 2020, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals In May 2022, the University would open its Podium rooftop solar array, a joint project with the New York Power Authority (NYPA).

April 2021

The University converts the SEFCU Arena into a medical clinic as it begins mass-vaccinations of students, faculty and staff against COVID-19. The massive effort requires assistance from across campus and marked a hopeful step toward campus life returning to normal. The first POD was held a month earlier in the PAC.

February 2021

The most ambitious and successful fundraising campaign in UAlbany history, This Is Our Time: The Campaign for UAlbany, inspired more than 34,000 alumni and friends to contribute $162 million, surpassing the campaign’s $150 million goal. These gifts support UAlbany’s mission of providing a life-changing education to hardworking, ambitious students, and reinforce its role as a force for positive change.

November 2021

The state-of-the-art ETEC building, designed to bring together scientists and entrepreneurs from across disciplines to collaboratively find solutions to society’s most complex challenges, opens. The $180 million facility, certified Platinum LEED in 2023, is the epicenter of many of the University’s signature research strengths, including climate science, emergency preparedness and cybersecurity.


The University at Albany adopts the Okanagan Charter, designating the University as a Health Promoting University and establishing it as an inaugural member of the United States Health Promoting Campuses Network (USHPCN).

April 2022

The University receives $75 million in state funding to complete the transformation of the former Albany High School into a state-of-the-art engineering college and fund the construction of a new AI supercomputer, significantly expanding UAlbany’s capacity in this major emerging field.

September 2022

Excelencia in Education grants UAlbany the prestigious Seal of Excelencia, a rigorous certification of the University’s data-driven approach to ensuring Latina and Latino students are supported and thriving academically.

April 2023

More than 1,500 students participate in the first UAlbany Showcase, with more than 900 presentations, exhibits and performances spread across UAlbany's Uptown Campus — demonstrating the many ways UAlbany students Unleash Greatness.


UAlbany unveils AI Plus, a holistic framework for integrating teaching and learning about AI across our academic and research programs to ensure every graduate is prepared to live and work in a world radically changed by technology in the coming decades. AI Plus is an institution-wide recognition of the centrality of AI to the future of knowledge creation, scientific discovery, creative expression and workforce development — a future UAlbany is determined to lead.

May 2023

The University Council votes to rename Indian Pond to Parker Pond in honor of the three Tonawanda Seneca siblings – Caroline (Ga:hahno), Nicholson (Gye-wah-go-wa) and Isaac Newton (Gane-yo-squa-ga-oh) Parker – who were among the first nine Indigenous students to enroll at UAlbany.

August 2023

UAlbany's reunification with CNSE concludes with the launch of the newly expanded College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering, further strengthening the University's position as a leader in engineering, semiconductor research, computer science and artificial intelligence. The new college is the product of a union between UAlbany’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the former College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), which was founded at UAlbany two decades earlier.

September 2023

New national rankings published by U.S. News and World Report and the Wall Street Journal list UAlbany within the top tier of public institutions in the nation. U.S. News also lists UAlbany as a top performer in social mobility for the fifth consecutive year, within the top 10 percent of all ranked institutions.

October 2023

At the inaugural SUNY AI Symposium, Gov. Kathy Hochul announces the Center for Emerging Artificial Intelligence Systems (CEAIS) at the University, a $20 million collaboration between UAlbany and IBM that will power new AI research projects with the help of advanced cloud computing and emerging hardware out of the IBM Research AI Hardware Center.

November 2023

The Great Danes claim their first CAA football title, sharing it with Villanova and Richmond, and are awarded the NCAA's No. 5 seed in the playoffs, the highest the team has ever been ranked. In the quarterfinals, UAlbany takes down No. 4 Idaho before falling in the semifinals to No. 1 South Dakota State.

November 2023

President Rodríguez joins Broadview FCU CEO and University Council Chair Michael Castellana in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open Broadview Center after a dramatic $12 million reimagination of the Great Danes’ home court, formerly known as SECFU Arena. The men's and women's basketball teams each win their first game in their new home, in late November and early December.

December 2023

Gov. Hochul announces the creation of the New York State Weather Risk Communication Center, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between university researchers and state emergency managers. The SWRCC was announced on a TODAY Show segment with Al Roker.