SUNY Oswego recognizing 150th anniversary

The SUNY board of trustees passed a resolution Sept. 20 recognizing SUNY Oswego’s 150th anniversary, one of many markers celebrating the college’s sesquicentennial.

The institution traces its roots to the Oswego Primary Teachers’ Training School, which began in fall 1861 with nine pupils meeting six times a week in a cloakroom in an Oswego school building. Edward Austin Sheldon, then the superintendent of schools at Oswego, looked for a way to train and retain teachers using the emerging object learning method.

From those humble beginnings sprang the Oswego Method, combining object learning with in-school training of teachers. This innovative method influenced the world of education as Oswego graduates radiated out across the growing United States—and as far as Brazil, Japan and the Philippines—to set up schools, lead colleges and teach.

SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley gave a presentation to the SUNY board at its monthly meeting in Albany, tying Sheldon’s vision to the college’s achievements today.

Documentary series

Among its recognitions, the college has debuted the first chapter of an eight-part documentary, “SUNY Oswego: 1861-2011, 150 Years,” chronicling the institution’s history. Chapter 1, “Our Founder,” focuses on the life of Sheldon, recounting his evolution from a child who hated to school to one of the top education innovators of his time.

New York Network is producing the documentary from staff writings and archival documents from Penfield Library’s Special Collections. The first installment is accessible via the college’s homepage and on its sesquicentennial site,

The sesquicentennial website also features an interactive photo timeline, Alumni Views and Voices video segments, a Then and Now series matching old and new photos to chart the college’s progress, brief histories of Oswego’s buildings and more.

Birthday celebration

Events slated include Sheldon’s Birthday Bash on Oct. 4, a campus-wide celebration on the founder’s birthday, and “Speaking of Sheldon,” a production coordinated by Mark Cole of the theatre department using Sheldon’s readings and premiering Feb. 25 and 26 in the Sheldon Hall ballroom.

In late August, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities recognized Oswego’s sesquicentennial in the organization’s online Celebrations section.

In addition, a resolution honoring Edward Austin Sheldon, introduced by Congressman William Owens, was read into the Congressional Record. The New York State Legislature has passed a resolution honoring SUNY Oswego, which was presented on campus at Reunion in June. Edward Austin Sheldon’s influence on Oswego, local schools and the world of education has been recognized in an Oswego city resolution.

Edward Austin Sheldon with early faculty members
PHOTO CAPTION: Founding faculty—Edward Austin Sheldon (center), who in 1861 founded the institution now known as SUNY Oswego, is shown with some of the early faculty members including his eventual successor Isaac Poucher (standing at right). SUNY Oswego is celebrating its sesquicentennial with a documentary, online features including an interactive timeline, special events and more. For information, visit (Photo courtesy of Penfield Library’s Special Collections)

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(Posted: Sep 20, 2011)

Tags: vitality, sesquicentennial, edward austin sheldon, college history