The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry was founded in 1911 as a college within Syracuse University, intended to replace the NY State College of Forestry at Cornell, which had been closed. Within a few years the college had become independent of Syracuse, though ESF’s campus is still adjacent to Syracuse’s. ESF became a specialized college within the State University of New York system in 1948, and over the course of the 20th century grew into the nation’s foremost environmental and forestry institution, paving the way for academic and research study in the field. Today, SUNY ESF is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 50 public colleges in the nation.
Academic ProgramsThe College of Environmental Science and Forestry is, obviously, highly specialized, and it is also highly competitive; ESF accepts less than 40% of applicants, and its student body is kept small by necessity, allowing all students access to the most in-depth, rigorous, and expansive study in the environment, sustainability, and other programs related to nature. The work of ESF is necessarily interdisciplinary across the sciences, with programs in areas like landscape architecture, biology, natural resources management, and even paper engineering. Students may also supplement their education with courses from ESF’s private partner, Syracuse.
ESF is also a leader in environmental research, well beyond its original capacity for study in New York. Faculty and students from ESF have conducted studies as far away as Madagascar and Mongolia, and maintains a permanent research station in Costa Rica. ESF, of course, is also the foremost source of research in the environment of New York and the Northeast, with facilities throughout New York, the Adirondack Park, and the Thousand Islands region of New York and Ontario. ESF is widely recognized as one of, if not the best environmental college in the US, and is particularly noted as a top institution for women in STEM.
Student LifeThe student body of ESF – just short of 3000 – proudly call themselves the Stumpies, a nickname derived from the insulting name once given to them by Syracuse students – the “stump jumpers.” Today, ESF’s student life is deeply integrated with that of Syracuse. While ESF is a public SUNY institution, and Syracuse is a private research university, ESF and Syracuse share a commencement ceremony, and ESF students have access to all of the student groups and activities at Syracuse. ESF itself offers more than 35 student-led organizations, many related to sustainability, along with hobby clubs and recreation groups.
While ESF students are not allowed to join Syracuse’s NCAA athletic teams, the ESF Mighty Oaks compete in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association in six men’s and women’s sports, with championships in cross-country. ESF students are also active competitors in woodsman competitions in the northeastern US and Canada; the SUNY-ESF Ranger School (for forest rangers) compete as the Blue Ox Woodsmen.