Celebrating a Century of University College

The Crouse Mansion (later the SU College of Law) was home to the first Syracuse University evening classes on October 8, 1918.

In the early 1900s, college was a distant dream for most American students. As they grew older, opportunities for college study receded even further, but the desire for education never diminished. M. Ellwood Smith, a Syracuse University graduate and member of the University’s faculty, recognized this gap, and set about rectifying it. He recommended that SU establish a self-supporting night school where adults could study part time. In 1918, Smith’s efforts led to the creation of Syracuse University’s School of Extension Teaching and Adult Education,
which later evolved into University College. The intervening 100 years have witnessed many changes in adult education, but Smith’s vision remains at the core of UC’s mission: to provide a first-class education to adults, veterans, active military, and first-generation college students. Career advancement has always been a goal for nontraditional students who study part time through University College. But other motivators include setting an example for children, fulfilling long-held dreams, and experiencing the joy of lifelong learning. Innovations through the years include the development of distance education options, community engagement programs, and the creation of pathways for students with significant educational and economic challenges. More recently, UC has become SU’s leader in the advancement of innovative online curriculum and programming.