College Profile: Colgate

Colgate is indeed named for the family with the toiletries empire. They have a long association with the school, which was founded in 1819. It didn’t go coed until 1970, which is par for the course for schools of its age. There was a lot of merging and de-merging with other local seminaries and universities. It started out Baptist and has also gone through several name changes. One of those splits created the University of Rochester.

The liberal arts college (yes it’s called a university), with enrollment just under 3,000, is located in a sylvan, mountainous New York setting complete with picturesque small town of Hamilton. It’s fairly expensive and is considered Ivy-esque for a SLAC: highly ranked in the U.S. News type of categories but mid-range (49th, still not bad) in terms of things the Washington Monthly ranks for, like creating social mobility. The campus made the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll for renewable and non-carbon-polluting energy practices. The school does have a Greek system, in which about 45% of students are enrolled. Colgate has an interesting numerological relationship with the number 13.

There seems to be a really well-thought-out core curriculum based around crucial interdisciplinary themes, rather than framing itself as some kind of timeless great books blahdy blahdy. The school website describes it as “ambitious and elegant” which is a lovely word choice. There are a surprising number of language majors, a *lot* of majors involving environmental sciences (including economics), a Native American Studies major, and a Peace and Conflict studies major among 50 or so others. The numbers suggest that many students go into careers in finance/business or in communications, so I hope someone is A. taking those liberal-artsy courses and B. translating their critical thinking focus into other fields. Bob Woodruff and Andy Rooney are among Colgate’s well-known alumni. Uber-leftist Chris Hedges and conservative commentator Monica Crowley are also both Colgate alums.

Colgate’s mascot is the Raider, about which I had trouble finding information. I later realized this had to do with the mascot, the ‘Red Raiders,’ referencing their maroon or red uniforms, but also initially being Native American. It has since been altered, to the school’s credit. Their athletics page prominently features their ‘You Can Play’ anti-homophobia video, also a welcome touch.  The women’s hockey team began as Division III in 1997, got pretty good very fast and switched to D-I in the 2000-2001 season. They’ve finished with a record above .500 three times since then, with a 19 win campaign in 2008-2009 as their best total. They’ve reached the ECAC semifinals once. Last year in a recruiting coup they brought in three first-years who had played with the U-18 Canadian national team. With the addition of goaltending this year, it still remains to be seen how that will pan out.

Sources:, Wikipedia