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At the request of Bishop Hickey of Rochester, five Sisters of St. Joseph—with newly-minted Ph.D’s that included graduate study at Oxford University and the Sorbonne—founded Nazareth College in 1924. Committed to academic excellence, these pioneering women inspired the first class of twenty-five young women to stretch to their potential. Classes were held on Lake Avenue in a mansion formerly owned by a judge. Pictured above is the original location of those first classes, always referred to as the “Glass House” for its avant-garde architecture.
In just four short years, enrollment exceeded the capacity of the building and in 1928 the college was relocated to Augustine Street.
In 1942, the college again moved to its present location on East Ave.
During these years of growth, the college was well known for educating local women as well as the daughters of professionals, ambassadors, and international figures.
In the 1950s the college responded to the need for graduate study by adding majors and by the 1970s was renowned for quality teacher education and social work. During this time of monumental change—that included lectures from eminent figures such as John Ciardi, Robert Fitzgerald, Edward Said, Gabriel Marcel, Dorothy Day, Rudolph Nureyev, and Oscar Arias, the President of Costa Rica—the college became co-educational and governmentally independent of the religious congregation. Nevertheless, it retained its original focus on academic excellence and the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph: “serving all without distinction.”
Nazareth competed in men’s intercollegiate athletics for the first time in 1977. The official nickname of the sports teams became the Golden Flyers. Golden for the Nazareth colors, and flyers for the bird-like symbol which was part of the Nazareth logo. Today Nazareth supports 24 varsity and 1 junior varsity sports teams, the most recent, added in 2013, men’s ice hockey.
In the early 2000s, the college acquired the land adjacent to the campus, including the former Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse, which was converted into the Golisano Academic Center (pictured above), housing classrooms and offices for many of the liberal arts faculty. This purchase doubled the size of the campus and provided faculty, staff, and students with one hundred-fifty acres of beauty. Recent construction of the Clock Tower Commons and the state-of-the art Peckham Hall for Integrated Math and Science are further evidence of the ongoing innovation and pursuit of excellence that exemplify Nazareth College.
While still maintaining many favorable connections with the founding religious congregation, Nazareth College has grown to be the inclusive, non-denominational comprehensive college it is today, proudly supporting not only an array of liberal arts majors and professional programs that extend to the Rochester community through speech, music, art, physical and occupational therapy clinics, but also the internationally known Brian and Jean Hickey Center for Interreligious Study and Dialogue.