No. 18 – Torchlight Ceremony

Oswego Torchlight 1938

Ever since it was instituted to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the college, the Torchlight Ceremony has been a tradition on the eve of Commencement. Written by Lida S. Penfield, for whom Penfield Library is named, the “Message of the Torch” welcomes graduates into the Oswego Alumni Association.

No. 146 – Homecoming Parade

Oswego Homecoming

Whether they took place at the traditional Homecoming in the fall,

or as a prelude to the spring Greek Games, float parades were a staple of Oswego life of the 1950s-60s years.

No. 142 – Muhammad Ali Visit

Muhammad Ali appeared at Oswego

Legendary boxer and high-profile activist Muhammad Ali came to Oswego in spring 1971 as part of the second annual Black History Week started by the Black Student Union. “The Greatest” was just months removed from the “Fight of the Century” versus Joe Frazier and at the height of his support for the civil rights and anti-war causes.

“I had never seen or felt anything like it. It’s just impossible to describe,” remembers Howard Gordon ’74, M ’78, current executive assistant to President Deborah F. Stanley and former member of BSU.

No. 135 – Transportation Lab

Transportation Lab

Who isn’t fascinated by planes, boats and automobiles? But did you know that Oswego has its own lab for learning about how they work?

In line with the founder’s focus on hands-on learning, Oswego has long offered students the chance to tinker with transportation technology.

No. 13 – ALANA Conference

ALANA Conference

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) Student Leadership Conference is a centerpiece of Oswego’s academic life each September. Featuring an acclaimed author, music, dance, food, film, workshops and speakers, the ALANA conference promotes unity while celebrating the contributions of many cultures. Traditionally, students from more than 20 colleges around New York state attend.

During the past decade, the conference has featured such diverse guests as writer Esmeralda Santiago; poet Sonia Sanchez; Jeffrey Johnson of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network; Native American singer-songwriter Joanne Shenandoah; performance artist, actor and poet Caridad de la Luz; Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company and a lecture/demonstration and master class with Biboti Ouikahilo, an expert in West African dance and drumming. Perennial campus favorites include the ALANA Fashion Show and dance troupe El Ritmo Latino.

No. 126 – Beanies!


It’s a rite of passage that freshmen of a certain era will never forget — the wearing of beanies. Graduates from the ’40s to the early ’70s donned the green and gold chapeaux or earned “demerits” from upperclassmen. The first-years also had to answer questions from their elders or sing the alma mater on demand, as Ernie Leal ’47 did during orientation.

No. 123 – Mace and Medallion

President James Perdue, 1966

The official College Medallion donned by the SUNY Oswego president at Commencement and other official ceremonies was a gift of the Class of 1966.

Designed by Art Professor Emeritus Dominic T. DiPasquale, the medallion commemorated President James Perdue’s inauguration. It contains two dates: 1861 for the college’s founding and 1948, which marks the date Oswego became a SUNY school.

No. 106 – Greek Life

Sig Gamma guys at Reunion 2010

Oswego is often billed as one big family — and you can’t have a family without brothers and sisters.

Greeks have been a part of student life at Oswego since the 1920s, when Ransom Libby and Max Ziel founded Psi Phi Gamma, Oswego’s first fraternity, and Clio was established as the college’s first sorority.

No. 10 – Huey, Dewey and Louie

Huey, Dewey and Louie

Generations of Oswego alumni have had a common beacon home to campus. Grads from the ’60s, ’80s and 2000s all agree that the Oswego Steam Station smokestacks led them home through “snow and rain and dark of night” up the hill from town. What they called those stacks varied, depending on when they graduated. Most everyone agrees on Huey, Dewey and Louie, but the last one gets various names. Pat Heafy Santoro ’61 recalls it as “Frank.” Sharon Piersanti Wappman ’61 says her crowd finished up with “and Sylvester doesn’t smoke.” Graduates of President James Perdue’s presidency in the late 1960s-early 1970s remember the phrase “Huey, Dewey, Louie… and Perdue-y.” Whatever they were called, the ’stacks have long meant safe passage home after a trip downtown.

No. 1 – Applause-worthy Sunsets

Photo by Robert J. Clark '78

Have you ever applauded a sunset? Many Oswegonians have.

The sight of the sun dropping just below the shimmering horizon has captivated most who cast their eyes upon it. Sunsets are perhaps Oswego’s most universally loved features.

“I will never forget it until the day I die,” Deb Roe ’73 told the late historian and Professor Emerita Dorothy Rogers. “We were all on the west campus on the bluff watching this particularly beautiful sunset.