SUNY Oswego is getting a name change after being formally recognized as a university.
The school announced this week that it will continue to be known as SUNY Oswego, but its official state education title will change from “State University of New York College at Oswego” to “State University of New York at Oswego.” The change took effect Jan. 1, 2023, and was approved by Interim SUNY Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley, who was authorized by the State University of New York Board of Trustees.
“This formal designation appropriately represents who SUNY Oswego is today – a premier institution proud of its shared commitment to excellence and unwavering efforts to place student success at the center of all we do,” Officer in Charge Mary C. Toale said in a statement. “Recognized officially as a university reinforces our institutional priorities; spotlights our high-quality, high-impact practices inside and outside the classroom; and underpins our mission to sustain our university and build a better world for future generations.”
According to a press release, SUNY Oswego filed for the name change to the New York State Education Department in November after the New York State Board of Regents issued new guidelines for what constitutes a university. To do so, a higher education institution must “offer a range of registered undergraduate and graduate curricula in the liberal arts and sciences, including graduate programs registered in at least three of the following discipline areas: agriculture, biological sciences, business, education, engineering, fine arts, health professions, humanities, physical sciences, and social sciences.”
College vs. University: What’s the difference?
According to U.S. News & World Report, which ranks the nation’s best colleges annually, the difference between “college” and “university” is small but can be significant. Colleges are generally considered smaller institutions and sometimes overlooked by international students because other countries may use the word “college” to mean high school.
In the U.S., “college” and “university” are often used interchangeably — higher ed students are “in college” or play “college sports” even if they attend a university, for example — but all universities must offer graduate programs to be designated as such, according to Elmhurst University, which changed its name from Elmhurst College in 2020.
The State University of New York at Oswego says it offers more than 110 undergraduate majors and minors and graduate programs.
“Recognition as a university will continue to add to our global reputation,” said Joshua McKeown, Associate Provost for International Education and Programs. “SUNY Oswego is already a sought-after higher education destination for students and research partners around the world. This designation and our proven track record for serving, supporting and advancing the international student population will help us grow our international presence at SUNY Oswego.”
SUNY Oswego, also known as Oswego State, was founded in 1861 as the Oswego Primary Teachers’ Training School by Edward Austin Sheldon. The school was known as the Oswego Normal School when it moved to its current lakeside location in Oswego, N.Y., in 1913, and was one of the State University of New York’s charter members in 1948.
The State University of New York at Oswego now has roughly 8,000 students and more than 92,000 alumni, including “Today” show weatherman Al Roker, ESPN sportscaster Steve Levy, author Alice McDermott, and “SportsCenter” anchor Linda Cohn.