Oswego's Presidents

Edward Austin Sheldon, 1859-1897
After observing teaching techniques practiced in Toronto, Edward A. Sheldon in 1859 initiated a series of classes in Oswego to train teachers in object teaching. In 1861, he founded the Oswego Primary Teachers Training School. (1861-66 course of study was purely pedagogical, covering a period of one year.) It was incorporated in 1865 as the Oswego State Normal and Training School. Two student projects have digitized part of Sheldon's autobiography:

Isaac B. Poucher, 1897-1913
Isaac B. Poucher, Sheldon's lieutenant, carried on the founder's revolutionary direction during his presidency at Oswego Normal School from 1897 to 1913. Under him, the school earned a gold medal for scholastic excellence at the Exposition Universelle Internationale, Paris, 1900. First Half-Century 1911 indicated Oswego graduates served in the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Puerto Rico and the Hawaiian Islands.

James G. Riggs, 1913-1933
James G. Riggs was president of the Oswego Normal School from 1913-1933. His most renowned achievement was constructing the industrial arts building, now Park Hall. Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt laid the cornerstone April 18, 1930.

Ralph W. Swetman, 1933-1947
Ralph W. Swetman entered the presidency of the Oswego Normal School in 1933 with a personal mission to perfect all aspects of academics. He mandated that no faculty member who failed to obtain a master's degree by the end of 1935 could remain at the school. Lida S. Penfield, professor of English, inaugurated Torchlight Ceremony in 1936. In 1938 state normal schools were changed to teachers colleges.

Harvey M. Rice, 1947-1952
"Growth" best describes the presidency of Harvey M. Rice, who headed the Oswego State Teachers College from 1947-1952. It was a period of increased student enrollment, the beginning of on-campus student housing, the expansion of student services, building additions and a broadened variety of extracurricular student activities. The college became a founding member of the SUNY system in 1948.

Foster S. Brown, 1952-1963
From 1952-1963, the SUNY system was rapidly expanding and refining itself. Under President Foster Brown's leadership, the student body tripled and eight buildings were added to the campus. Most importantly, Oswego was established as a liberal arts school. Its name was changed to the State University of New York College of Education at Oswego in 1960. In 1962, it took the name State University of New York College at Oswego.

James E. Perdue, 1965-1977
In 1965, Dr. James E. Perdue became the president of SUNY-Oswego, which had become by then an established and prosperous school. Dorms, dining halls, Hewitt Union, Penfield Library, the administration building and various academic halls were built during his presidency. He left in 1977 to become associate chancellor of SUNY.

Virginia Radley, 1977-1988
Dr. Virginia Radley was the first woman president of a state-operated campus in the SUNY system. She will be remembered for her strong values and commitment to liberal arts education and maintaining SUNY-Oswego's excellent academic reputation. She later worked as a leading professor of English at the college.

Stephen L. Weber, 1988-1995
Dr. Stephen L. Weber worked to enhance faculty development, foster diversity and intercultural competence, make the campus more self-sufficient, improve service to the community, and enrich the natural and cultural environment of the campus.

Deborah F. Stanley, 1995-
Encouraging the campus community to engage in dialogue on the future of Oswego, Deborah F. Stanley has worked to develop new strategies that ensure the pursuit of institutional quality. She is the architect of the "Oswego Guarantee" and the Presidential Scholars Program.