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Elmira College
Entrance at College and Washington Avenues
TypePrivate college
Endowment$26.492 million (2023)
PresidentCharles Lindsay
Location, ,
United States

42°05′48″N 76°48′58″W / 42.0966°N 76.8160°W / 42.0966; -76.8160
CampusSuburban, 42 acres
ColorsPurple and gold    
MascotSoaring Eagle

Elmira College is a private college in Elmira, New York.[1] Founded as a college for women in 1855, it is the oldest existing college granting degrees to women that were the equivalent of those given to men. Elmira College became coeducational in all of its programs in 1969. As of 2023, the college has an enrollment of approximately 657 students.

The school's colors, purple and gold, are seen throughout the traditional campus, consisting mainly of buildings of the Victorian and Collegiate Gothic architectural styles. The colors purple and gold come from both the banners of the women's suffrage movement and the iris, the college flower.

The octagonal study in which Mark Twain wrote many of his most widely read novels, including A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is located on campus, and the center maintains Quarry Farm, where the Clemens family spent more than twenty summers, as a research facility for Twain scholars. Every four years the college hosts the International Conference On The State of Mark Twain Studies.


According to Thomas Woody, Elmira College is "the oldest existing women's college in the United States which succeeded in attaining standards in a fair degree comparable with men's colleges at the very beginning of her career".[2]

Statue of Simeon Benjamin on the Elmira College campus

Five months later, Alexander MacKenzie was suggested as a possibility for Elmira's next president. He told the board that he was in the process of raising $100,000 with $53,000 already raised. While he wanted to remain in Owego, he accepted the presidency.[3]

Elmira College became coeducational in 1969.[4]

21st Century

Academic rankings
THE / WSJ[6]498

The college has an enrollment of under 850 students, down from its all time high enrollment of just under 1,200 in 2014.[7][8]

Elmira College's academic calendar contains a special six-week Spring Term, which is held in April and May. Courses taken during this term are usually not major-required, but can count as elective courses. They "tend to aim at the generalized aspect of student education" (Bulletin 24). However, some specialized courses are taken during this six-week period, such as lower level student teaching courses for education majors or nursing clinicals. Several courses are taught in foreign countries as part of the college's study abroad program.[citation needed]

In 2016 the United States Department of Education determined the college had violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, for failure to promptly and equitably respond to complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence. Specifically, the Office of Civil Rights investigation determined that in fifteen of the sixteen incidents reported at the college over three years, the college's response was either in violation of Title IX or another serious concern was raised.[9]


Elmira College is a member of the NCAA, New York State Women's Collegiate Athletic Association (NYSWCAA), ECAC, UCHC, and Empire 8. Their mascot is the Soaring Eagle. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross-country, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, tennis and volleyball; while women's sports include basketball, cross-country, cheerleading, field hockey, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.[citation needed] On July 15, 2020, the Empire 8 Conference postponed all fall sports, but will provide conference championships in those sports in Spring 2021.[10]

The college will add both men's and women's wrestling as intercollegiate programs for the 2020–21 academic year.[11] Elmira College sponsored men's wrestling in the early 1970s but the sport was later discontinued.[12]

Elmira College holds several NCAA Division III National Championships in Women's Ice Hockey[13] as well as in NCA Competitive Cheerleading. Elmira College is a member of the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) which has postponed conference competition until January 1, 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.[14]


Cowles Hall, showing octagonal center
Hamilton Hall and College Avenue


Academic buildings

Watson Fine Arts Building
Gannett-Tripp Library
Speidel Gymnasium
Campus Center

Former buildings

For eighty years, Elmira College possessed an observatory built by Professor Charles Farrar. Professor Farrar began buying telescopes for the observatory in 1859, and construction began in August 1859. The observatory first opened for use in April 1860 under the control of the Elmira Academy of Sciences. Twenty years later, control was transferred to Elmira College. Students would gather in the observatory for "dome parties" (102). "The domed building, which occupied a triangular plot fronting on Seventh Street, stood until 1939" (94).

Park Place School was housed in the observatory, and provided students with use of the college facilities. In June 1895, plans were made to construct a building specifically for the school.[citation needed]

There was a chapel at Elmira College, in which a memorial plaque was placed for the first dean of the college, Anna M. Bronson.

Alumnae Hall was built in 1917 as a sophomore dormitory.

The first gymnasium at the college was built in 1924. This wooden gymnasium was built as a temporary structure until a permanent one could be erected.

The school had College Apartments built a block south of Tompkins Hall in 1948.

The first incarnation of the Elmira College museum existed in Cowles Hall, but its artifacts were later moved to Gillett Memorial Hall.

MacKenzie Cottage was originally a residence built sometime around 1890. It became a dormitory in 1916.

Notable alumni and former students

This statue of Olivia Langdon Clemens was a gift of the Class of 2008

See also


  1. ^ "Elmira College Bulletin" (PDF). 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 2, 2006.
  2. ^ "Vassar Quarterly 1 May 1957 — Vassar Newspaper & Magazine Archive".
  3. ^ Dr Mackenzie left First Presbyterian Owego "Retracing Old Paths" MacKenzie 1895.
  4. ^ "THE STORY OF ELMIRA COLLEGE". Elmira College. Elmira College. Retrieved 25 May 2020. Elmira College, co-educational since 1969
  5. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2023". Forbes. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  6. ^ "2024 Best Colleges in the U.S." The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  7. ^ "Elmira College". Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  8. ^ "Elmira College". WSKG. 7 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Elmira College Reaches Agreement with U.S. Education Department to Address Title IX Violations Regarding Sexual Harassment, Sexual Violence | U.S. Department of Education".
  10. ^ "Empire 8 Conference Announces Postponement of Fall Sports". July 15, 2020.
  11. ^ "Elmira College to Add Men's & Women's Wrestling Programs". Elmira College Athletics. 11 September 2019.
  12. ^ "1970-1971 Elmira College Golden Eagles".
  13. ^ "Elmira Women's Hockey Team History". USCHO. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  14. ^ "UCHC Postpones Conference Competition Until January 1, 2021". July 24, 2020.
  15. ^ "Meier Hall". Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  16. ^ JREF. "The 2009 Pigasus Awards". James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved 1 March 2015.