State University of New York at Purchase

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State University of New York at Purchase
Photograph of Student Services at SUNY Purchase College
Motto Think Wide Open
Endowment $46.2 million[1]
President Thomas Schwarz
Provost Barry Pearson[2]
Academic staff 300[3]
Students 4,000
Location Purchase, NY, United States
Campus Suburban, 500 acres (2 km²)[4]
Colors Athletic: Blue and Orange; Traditional: Heliotrope and Puce[5]
Mascot Panther

Purchase College, State University of New York, is a public four-year college located in Purchase, New York, United States. It is one of 13 comprehensive colleges in the State University of New York (SUNY) system.[6] Founded by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1967 as the cultural gem of the SUNY system, Purchase College claims to offer "a unique education that combines programs in the liberal arts with conservatory programs in the arts in ways that emphasize inquiry, mastery of skills, and creativity".[7] Purchase College is included in the Princeton Review's Best 371 Colleges[8] (2010) and Top 100: Best Value Colleges (2009).

Purchase College confers the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and Master of Music (MM).[9] As a requirement for the BA and BS degree, students undertake a senior project in which they devote two semesters to an in-depth, original, and creative study under the close supervision of a faculty mentor. Similarly, the BFA and MusB studies culminate in a senior exhibition, film, or recital. The graduate degree programs culminate in a master's thesis and, for the MFA and MM, an exhibition, recital, or related presentation.


The Land that would one day become Purchase College was first settled by the Thomas Family in 1734.[10] John Thomas served the Colony of New York as an Assemblyman from 1743-1776. He was named a Judge for the Court of Common Pleas in Westchester from 1755-1776, and served as Muster-Master in 1759. Judge Thomas was an early patriot who fervently opposed the British, which must have antagonized many of his Tory neighbors. Bolton's classic History of Westchester County maintains that "this distinguished gentleman was a warm whig, and took an active part in the scenes that proceeded the revolution on which account he was particularly obnoxious to the enemy. John Thomas had the great honor of giving the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in New York State on the steps of the courthouse in White Plains on July 11, 1776". Fearing John Thomas was raising troops, the British seized him from his bed on March 22, 1777, and imprisoned him in the so- called "Old Martyr's Prison" in New York . According to some historians, he was tortured for 40 days and he subsequently died on May 2, 1777. His remains are in the historic cemetery at Trinity Church in Manhattan. The Patriot cause was assumed by John Thomas' two sons, John Thomas, Jr. and Thomas Thomas. Like their father, both sons were active in local government and the military. Thomas Thomas commanded the local military regiment which fought against the British. Thomas Thomas, later promoted to General, is buried on campus in the Thomas's family graveyard located behind the Neuberger Museum of Art. A tall, white stone obelisk commemorates General Thomas Thomas.


School of the Arts[edit]

"The School of the Arts provides the highest level of professional training to developing visual and performing artists and arts managers. Students are prepared for careers in their fields and are inspired to be engaged and innovative contributors to society. Prestigious faculties in the Conservatories of Dance, Music, and Theatre Arts, and the School of Art+Design cultivate, nurture, and prepare students through rigorous and comprehensive studio practice informed by theoretical, conceptual, and historical study. The thriving intellectual culture in the School of the Arts is enhanced by its unique and synergistic relationship with the broader College community. These vibrant performance and studio-based degree programs challenge students to be reflective and articulate, productive and entrepreneurial, and creative and innovative practitioners of their respective art forms."[11]

School of Liberal Arts and Sciences[edit]

"The School of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers a rich, disciplinary, and interdisciplinary curriculum – with extraordinary opportunities for undergraduate research, study abroad, and preprofessional preparation.Schools of ThoughtCourses are offered in film and media studies, the humanities, and the natural and social sciences. Students can choose from 23 academic majors or design an interdisciplinary major in the liberal arts that touches on several areas of study. Either way, you’ll benefit from: close, personal interaction with faculty mentors; small class settings that challenge and inspire; an atmosphere fueled by critical thinking, originality, and creativity. Typically, students spend their first years exploring and discovering a wide variety of subjects, and much of their senior year designing, researching, creating, and producing a major work – whether it’s a full-length film, an original scientific investigation, or a research paper. The senior project is an impressive achievement that often becomes the springboard for your future career."[12]


Purchase Student Government Association[edit]

The Purchase Student Government Association, commonly referred to as the PSGA, is a nonprofit corporation responsible for managing the money collected from Purchase College students' Mandatory Student Activity Fee. The PSGA functions within a tripartite structure made up of the representative student government, an independent fiscal agent and the campus president[13] The PSGA itself has three branches: The Executive Branch, The Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch — which are further divided into six key organs: The Executive Board, the Senate, the Judicial Board, the Council of Clubs & Organizations, the Student Activities Board, and Services Board.

The PSGA is funded through the Mandatory Student Activity Fee (MSAF), which all full-time matriculated students pay. All students that have paid the Mandatory Student Activity Fee are deemed PSGA members, and share equal rights including: free attendance at PSGA events, voting in PSGA elections, running for office, attending PSGA club and committee meetings, and applying for jobs and internships that the PSGA offers. Voter turnout is moderate; about 900 of 4,200 eligible students participated in the Spring 2013 General Election.

The PSGA Executive Board handles the hiring and firing of PSGA staff, and consists of a President, Chair of the Senate, Coordinator of Finance, Coordinator of Council of Clubs, Organizations & Services, Student Activities Coordinator, and Coordinator of Public Affairs. Since 2009, the Student Activities Board, which the Student Activities Coordinator chairs, has facilitated the PSGA's recreational programming.

The PSGA Senate provides checks and balances for the Executive Board, having the ability to remove any Executive from office who does not meet constitutional requirements. The Senate also has final approval of all budget decisions. The Senate also has oversight of a pooled Senator Initiative Fund, to fund projects of benefit to the student body — such as new kitchenware for a community kitchen, and an annual Lazer Tag night. The Senate's composition is at least one Senator from each residential area, including Commuters, and for the School of the Arts and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The current Senator to Student ratio is 1:420. All Senate business is conducted in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order.

The PSGA President nominates, and the PSGA Senate approves, one Chief Justice, three justices, and two reserve justices, to serve on the PSGA Judicial Board. All justices serve two year terms. The Judicial Board convenes only when there is an internal dispute, which has been referred to the Senate, including impeachment, election irregularities, and policy discrepancies.

In addition to advocating on the student body's behalf, the PSGA runs the college's Student Center, most non-academic activities on campus, including the annual Culture Shock festival, numerous student-run services, and all clubs and organizations.[14] Students are additionally represented on the Purchase College Senate, the all-campus governance body, by three voting members: the PSGA's President, and two PSGA selected students to represent both the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of the Arts.[15]

Services and organizations[edit]

Purchase College, with its proximity to New York City and the variety of arts programs offered to its students, is home to many clubs, organizations, and services. The PSGA funds clubs, organizations, and services, which are groups where students with similar interests gather for weekly or biweekly meetings for discussions. They are also responsible for dozens of parties, lectures, screenings, and shows in which the entire community is invited to participate. Clubs and organizations send representatives monthly to a Council of Clubs and Organizations (CoCOs), chaired by the Coordinator of Clubs, Organizations, and Services (CoCOaS). The distinction between a club and an organization is that the latter has a historical presence on campus, and typically has access to greater funding. Current clubs and organizations on campus include:

  • Anime Club – A club established to provide insight and appreciation for Japanese animation and culture. Discussions centered around what ways anime illustrates Japanese attitudes toward social and political issues. Hosts weekly anime screenings.
  • Anthropology Club – This club exposes students to theoretical and practical perspectives that guide the study of anthropology, and examine its relevance to culture. Frequently hosts speakers and send members on conference trips.
  • Critique Club - Critique Club is open to all students interested in the study or practice of art and offers free figure drawing sessions.
  • CANDIES - CANDIES is an organization created to provide parties hosted in on-campus venues. CANDIES also co-hosts many cross-cultural events with other clubs.
  • Cheese Club – A group that meets weekly to enjoy the many flavors of cheese.
  • Gamers United – A venue wherein the large college gaming community can meet to discuss and play their favorite games, and enjoy the best possible gaming experience. Includes console, role-playing, board, and more.
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Union (LGBTQU) – An organization that provides support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and queer students as well as spreads knowledge of LGBTQ issues to the campus community. LGBTQU is Purchase College's oldest and largest student organization, is noted for running many popular events on campus (Such as Fall Ball, the college's annual drag ball competition to be reigning Queen and King for the following academic year) and holding informative discussions each week.
  • Hillel – Chapter of the nationwide organization to build relations among students on-campus and raise awareness about Jewish culture and customs.
  • Latinos Unidos – Strives to advocate awareness of Latino issues on campus as well as in our own communities and around the world.
  • Organization of African People In the Americas (OAPIA) – This organization aims to create a fun-filled environment balanced by deep, philosophical discussions on issues pertinent to bettering the lives of African Americans and improving conditional standards of the communities from which we come and live.
  • Students of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA) – Students of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA) is a club with the intention of raising awareness about Caribbean culture.

Other entities which are the benefactors of PSGA funds include:

  • The Student Center, referred to commonly among students as "The Stood" /std/, is a student recreational facility opened in 2003 by student Ben Offer-Arie, as part of his Anthropology senior project, in conjunction with then-President and Founder of The Purchase Independent, Glen Parker. A major renovation to the building's exterior in 2007 solidified the school's devotion to the Student Center. Prior to 2003, the facility was originally known as the Butler Building. Since its opening as the Student Center, the facility has featured free-use billiard and ping pong tables, a videogame arcade, air hockey, foosball, board games, two concert venues — the Student Center Mainstage, and Whitson's Memorial Greeting Hall, which was created by Jonathan Schulman — and a film screening area, The Cinema. The Student Center also has free-wifi, a student art gallery, the Art Co-op, a student bike shop, a silkscreen print shop, and the college's Food Co-Op.
  • PTV, is the college's own television station which is cablecast on channel 69 on campus. The station is entirely funded and run by students. In addition to the TV station, the school also has a student-run radio station, WPSR, which is simulcast on the internet.
  • The Submission, a student-run interdisciplinary journal of creativity, started in 2005 by Katie Reilly, Salina Sanchez, Steve Sajdak, and Miguel Jimenez.
  • The Alternative Clinic is a student run women's health clinic providing a confidential safe space for female bodied patients as well as dental dams, condoms, lube and educational materials for all students. The Alternative Clinic hosts its event "Women Out Loud" once a semester featuring music, poetry, food, and sex toy raffles. The Alternative Clinic was founded in 1978 as a student's senior project and is the longest running service on campus.
  • WPSR, the college's radio station.
  • The Co-op, a student-run space for lounging and programming that serves a selection vegan foods and fair-trade coffees and teas.[16]
  • Mount Olympus, a student-run silkscreen printshop located in The Stood. Mount Olympus allows students outside of the Visual Arts conservatory to learn printmaking processes and produce their own posters, t-shirts, and other printed materials.


The PSGA indirectly funds campus intramurals by way of a grant to the Athletic Department. Current intramural sports funded in part by the PSGA include:

  • Classical Fencing - Purchase has one of the few classical fencing clubs in the US. Classical fencing is the final development of European swordsmanship, which came into its full form during the last half of the 19th century. Training in this art is geared to learning and practicing techniques as a martial art. In the club students can learn French & Italian foil, French & Italian épée, Northern & Southern Italian dueling sabre, French smallsword, Italian & Spanish rapier, longsword and the German dusack among other styles.
  • Nerf Club - Founded in late Fall of 2010, the Nerf Club is a relatively young club located in the Humanities Building. Originally organized as a small group of friends with toy guns in the residential basement tunnels, the club rapidly expanded - first in the Spring of 2011 as a sub-sect of the Role Playing Gamers Association and most recently as an independent intramural sports and recreational club in the Fall of 2011.
  • Ultimate Frisbee - Purchase's Ultimate Frisbee team, the Sub-Atomic Puppies, plays through the year in both Fall and Spring seasons, competing in tournaments in various states every few weekends, competing against such schools/teams as Marist, Rider, SUNY New Paltz, Vassar, and Bard.
  • Men's Lacrosse - The Purchase College Men's Lacrosse Team is competing as a non-member program for the 2011-2012 season with a plan to bring the program varsity in the near future. The student members will be competing this spring in the inaugural season against various MCLA, PCLL and NCAA members throughout the tri-state area. The club practices and competes on the Purchase College Turf Field on campus.
  • Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan Club - Established in September 2005, the Purchase College Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan Club offers members the opportunity to participate in two Asian martial arts Taekwondo and Hapkido. Additionally, in September 2012 an Iaido study group will be formed. The club is affiliated with Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan (Korea), the USA Taekwondo Association, and Tactical Hapkido Alliance; therefore, club members can earn and receive rank from those organizations. Members may also compete in the Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference.[17]


The College holds several key events:

  • The Culture Shock festival, a two-day music festival sponsored by the Purchase Student Government Association (PSGA) is a popular annual event. The weekend festival, typically held in April, showcases the talents of musical acts and performance artists. Some notable performers include: Ween, Dan Deacon, Regina Spektor, Deerhoof, Pissed Jeans, Animal Collective, GZA, Cat Power, Blonde Redhead, Bouncing Souls, Ghostface Killah, Ted Leo, Biz Markie, Kool Keith, Slick Rick, Destiny's Child, Drake (entertainer), Tycho (musician), Beach Fossils, Dead Prez, and Big Freedia. Culture Shock is funded by the student body's mandatory activity fee and is organized by the Purchase Student Government Association.
  • Zombie Prom, A Prom type event held in the student center where students dress up as Zombies.
  • Fall Fest, a musical event held every fall in the college's student center.
  • Fall Ball, an event that celebrates Purchase College's strong LGBT culture, where drag queens and drag kings compete on stage for the year's crown.
  • Purchase Wide Open, usually occurring in April is a combination of Alumni Homecoming and Family Day. A series of Visual and Performing Arts, Sciences and Humanities events that enables both the on and off campus community to share in what Purchase College has to offer. Most events are free; shows held at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) usually require advance ticket purchase.
  • Women Out Loud, A body and sex positive event held every semester by the Alternative Clinic. This event celebrates the Clinic's patients and the women on campus, encouraging them to be "women out loud". This event is the largest, free, sex toy raffle on campus.

Other aspects of campus life[edit]

The Performing Arts Center, a four-theatre complex at Purchase College, is the major professional, nonprofit arts presenter in the Southeastern New York-Southwestern Connecticut region, and the largest program in the SUNY system. The Center's performance spaces include the 1400-seat Concert Hall with hydraulic lifts for orchestra; the 600-seat Recital Hall with rear-screen projection bay; the 700-seat PepsiCo Theatre with Hanamichi wraparound platforms along both sides of the house; and the Repertory Theatre, a "black box" with completely flexible stage and seating configurations. Each theatre is specifically designed for the optimum presentation of a different type of performance, enabling the presentation of any kind of event at The Center.

The Performing Arts Center presents a broad range of performances – offering music, dance, theatre, comedy and cinema to audiences from Westchester and the surrounding communities. Music presenting features world-class orchestras and leading artists of our time as well as emerging artists. As the major regional presenter of dance, programs have included only-area appearances of several important traditional, contemporary, and folkloric companies. The Center has been the scene in recent years of performances by artists such as Lang Lang, Patti LuPone, Pilobolus, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance, Elvis Costello, Mark Morris Dance Group, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and comedian George Carlin. The Performing Arts center is also home to the Westchester Philharmonic and the Conservatory of Theatre Arts’ Purchase Repertory Theatre.

The Center’s on-going initiatives also encompass artist partnerships, residency activities, and commissions.

The Neuberger Museum of Art, the tenth largest university museum in the nation, houses a permanent collection of more than 7,000 works of art[18] and features a full schedule of exhibitions, lectures, films, and intermedia events. The museum presents more than a dozen exhibitions each year in addition to ongoing exhibitions from the permanent collections. The Neuberger Museum of Art offers insights into 20th-century masters, midcareer and emerging artists, as well as exposure to the county's only permanent exhibition of African art.[19]


The Performing Arts Center as viewed from the campus plaza, prior to renovation.

The site chosen for the campus was a 500 acre (2 km²) estate, Strathglass Farm, in the middle of Westchester County, 40 minutes from Manhattan by car, about 30-40 minutes by Metro-North, and an Hour on the Westchester County Beeline Bus. It was originally the property of Thomas Thomas, an American Revolutionary war soldier,[20] whose family and servant cemetery remains on the campus between the south ends of the Humanities and Visual Arts buildings. To transform the former farm into a college for thousands of students, SUNY engaged some of the most prominent American architects to design the campus (Paul Rudolph, Charles Gwathmey, Phillip Johnson, John Burgee, and Robert Venturi). Edward Larrabee Barnes created the master plan, and nine distinguished architectural firms designed specific buildings. Buildings on the campus are located in the center of the property, and are isolated from the surrounding community by wooded areas around the perimeter of the property. The college is adjacent to the Westchester County Airport, and is across the street from PepsiCo's world headquarters. The campus is not within walking distance to any commercial area, but maintains an hourly shuttle bus system to and from White Plains, New York.

The buildings and open spaces of the campus are visually distinctive models of late modernist architecture. The Visual Arts Building has 160,000 square feet (15,000 m2) of studios, exhibition spaces, workshops and labs. The Dance Building was the first in America created specifically for the training of dancers.[21] The Music Building has two recital halls, 75 practice rooms, 80 Steinway & Sons pianos, and professional recording studios. The Studio Composition program was one of the first in the country, and the faculty and student showcase Purchase Records has earned three Grammy nominations for its five releases. The Film Conservatory is housed within the lower level of the Music Building.

Various parts of the Campus are currently undergoing renovation. The new Student Services building opened in 2006, providing one-stop-shopping for most administrative services. The "mall," or main campus plaza, is currently undergoing renovations to improve its aesthetics, create communal spaces, and to reduce flooding when it rains.

Travel and Leisure's October 2013 issue named the college as one of ugliest campuses in the US, noting that it was constructed at the height of Modernism in 1967 when the vast expanses of dark brick was "a sight to behold", but decrying the lack of windows as creating "an ominous vibe more appropriate for New York's Sing Sing Prison".[22]

Art on Campus[edit]

SUNY Purchase is home to the 10th largest university art museum in the country, the Neuberger Museum of Art.

Within the School of Art+Design is the Richard & Dolly Maass Gallery which brings exhibitions of professional artists to the students at the School of Art+Design. As a teaching gallery, the Maass Gallery focuses on emerging artists, A+D alumni, current faculty, and student work and showcases the annual MFA and BFA student group exhibitions. In conjunction with the Neuberger Museum, the Maas Gallery also serves as a site where visiting artists can work directly with students, using the gallery as a seminar or project space.

There are numerous opportunities to view student work at SUNY Purchase. Gallery 1019A is a student exhibition space in the School of Art and Design. There are also two Installation rooms for student work, Rms. 0028 & 1019B. The Passage Gallery, located across from the performing arts center box office under the overpass is yet another student exhibition space that offers an internship position for students. Further student exhibition spaces include the outdoor space adjacent to the VA Building, public hallways and display cabinets. Students may also propose to install their work around the campus, in non-art buildings and on the campus grounds.


SUNY Purchase teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Panthers are a member of the Skyline Conference. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis and volleyball.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2011. "NCSE PUblic Tables Endowment Market Values" (PDF). Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs". Purchase College-Office of the Provost. Purchase College. Retrieved July 23, 2013. 
  3. ^ about Purchase. "Purchase College – About Purchase". Retrieved September 10, 2009. 
  4. ^ Visitors guide. "Purchase College – About Purchase – Visitors Guide". Retrieved September 10, 2009. 
  5. ^ School Of Natural & Social Sciences (October 12, 1999). "Alumnus recalls deciding on the official school colors". Retrieved September 10, 2009. 
  6. ^ SUNY: Complete Campus List. Retrieved on 2012-05-13.
  7. ^ President – Mission Statement. Retrieved on 2012-05-13.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Academic Programs – Majors & Minors at a Glance. (October 31, 2011). Retrieved on 2012-05-13.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Purchase College - Departments - Academic Programs - Arts
  12. ^ Purchase College - Academic Programs - LAS
  13. ^ "Student Activity Fee Programs - Mandatory, Fiscal and Accounting Procedures for". SUNY. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "Purchase Student Government Association". Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  15. ^ "Faculty Handbook". Purchase College. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  16. ^ PSGA Clubs & Descriptions. PSGA. 2008. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Intramurals and Recreational Program". Purchase College Athletics. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  18. ^ Purchase College – About Purchase – Neuberger Museum of Art. Retrieved on 2012-05-13.
  19. ^ Neuberger Museum of Art: About. ARTINFO. 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2008. [dead link]
  20. ^ Purchase College: History. Purchase College. 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2008. 
  21. ^ "From College to the World, by Way of Dance". The New York Times. April 13, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2008. 
  22. ^ "America's Ugliest College Campuses", Travel + Leisure, October 2013

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°02′50″N 73°42′08″W / 41.047285°N 73.702126°W / 41.047285; -73.702126