As an undergraduate, I didn’t think there was a campus that rivaled the beauty of my own upstate NY alma mater, but when I saw Colgate Unniversity for the first time in 2005, I was so impressed, I wondered why I had never considered applying to this little gem.
The origins of Colgate University (colgate.edu) can be tracked back to 1817 when thirteen men founded a school, the Baptist Education Society, with thirteen dollars, thirteen prayers, and thirteen articles. By 1846, the school was a full-fledged university, and it adopted the name Colgate in 1890. To this day, 13 is considered a lucky number on the Colgate campus. Many of the original buildings date back to this era and were built with native stone taken from an onsite rock quarry. Even now, almost all buildings on campus are made of stone.
Colgate University’s 515 acre campus is located just ten miles from the center of New York State, yet it isn’t exactly easy to get to. From northern Westchester County, I can’t seem to get there in under four hours, even with the help of my very fickle GPS (she takes me a different route every time I drive there). It is located in Madison County, 25 miles south of Utica.
At the base of Colgate University's campus hill, grand old fraternity and sorority houses line Broad Street. I never tire of the ride up Oak Drive, the main entrance to campus that is lined, not surprisingly, with oak trees. It leads to James B. Colgate Hall where the Admissions Office is located. Walking tours, which begin at the Admissions Office, are easy as the buildings are contained within only ten of the 515 acres.
WHAT TO SEE AT COLGATE UNIVERSITY
You should definitely check out the new $56 million Robert H.N. Ho Science Center, which I was surprised to find deserted at 10:30 a.m. on a Monday. This state-of-the-art, 121,000 sf building houses not only its own geology museum but also several academic departments, laboratories, classrooms, and an auditorium. It is one cool space, and with windows galore, it is presumably filled with light on the rare occasion that the sun makes an appearance over Hamilton.
The equally impressive Case Library was renovated, expanded and reopened in 2007. Students are thrilled with the results that include a café and 24 hour study areas. Again, the architects must have been considering the lack of natural sunlight because they maximized window space wherever possible.
I also like the relative coziness of the O’Connor Campus Center, where there is a snack bar, a small bookstore (the main school store is in downtown Hamilton), the post office, and an enormous fireplace, by which I would sit all the time, if I were a student at Colgate.
Here is some information on where to stay or eat while visiting Colgate University.
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