SUNY at Purchase College

735 Anderson Hill Rd 
Purchase NY 10577 

(914) 251-6000

State University of New York at Purchase

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State University of New York at Purchase
School logo.jpg
Motto Think Wide Open
Established 1967
Parent institution
State University of New York
Endowment $61.1 million (2016)[1]
President Thomas J. Schwarz[2]
Provost Barry Pearson[3]
Academic staff
Students 4,234[5][1]
Undergraduates 4,134
Postgraduates 100
Location , ,
United States

41°02'49?N 73°42'07?W / 41.047°N 73.702°W / 41.047; -73.702Coordinates: 41°02'49?N 73°42'07?W / 41.047°N 73.702°W / 41.047; -73.702
Campus Suburban
500 acres (2.0 km2)[6]
Colors Athletic: blue and orange; Traditional: heliotrope and puce[7]
Nickname Panthers
Mascot Perseus

State University of New York at Purchase (commonly Purchase College) is a public college in Harrison, New York, in the hamlet of Purchase. It is one of 13 comprehensive colleges in the State University of New York (SUNY) system. It was founded by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1967 as "the cultural gem of the SUNY system."

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), Master of Music (MM), Music Artist Diploma and Music Performers Certificate.[8] 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.[9] Master's degree programs culminate in a thesis and the MFA and MM culminate in an exhibition, recital, or related presentation.


Purchase College was originally a 500-acre estate and working farm in the 1700s.

The land that would become Purchase College was first settled by the Thomas family in 1734.[10] John Thomas served as an assemblyman in colonial New York from 1743 to 1776. He served as a judge for the Court of Common Pleas in Westchester and a Muster-Master. Judge Thomas was an early supporter of American independence. Robert Bolton wrote in History of Westchester County that Thomas was "a warm Whig" who gave the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in New York at the White Plains courthouse on July 11, 1776.[10] On March 22, 1777, Thomas was imprisoned by the British and died on May 2, 1777.[10]

John Thomas' sons, John Thomas, Jr. and Thomas Thomas, also fought for American independence.[10] Thomas Thomas was later appointed a General. He is buried at the Thomas family graveyard, which is located behind the Neuberger Museum of Art on the campus of Purchase College.[10] A tall, white stone obelisk commemorates General Thomas and his family.[10]


Summer orientation 2013

As of 2017, Purchase College had 4,121 undergraduate students with freshman enrollment of 763.[1][11][8] 57% of Purchase's student body is female. 15% of the college's students come from outside of New York state and 2.4% of its students are international.[11] Purchase has an acceptance rate of 44% and a student-teacher ratio of 14:1.[12] 62% of Purchase students receive need-based financial aid and the college has an endowment of $61.1 million.[1]

University rankings
ARWU[13] N/A
Forbes[14] N/A
ARWU[15] N/A
QS[16] N/A
Times[17] N/A
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[18] 173-229
Washington Monthly[19] 209

Purchase College was ranked the ninth best public liberal arts college (141st overall) in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 college rankings.[20] Kiplinger ranked the school as the 86th Best Value in Public Colleges in 2017.[21] It was also listed as one of the 100 Best Value Public Colleges for the years 2013 and 2014 by the Princeton Review.[11] The Princeton Review rated the school's theatre as the second best.[11] Purchase was also listed as one of the Princeton Review's top 382 colleges for 2018.[22] Newsweek ranked the school's student body as the thirteenth most liberal in 2012.[23]

Purchase College offers majors from three schools: the School for Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts, and the School of Liberal Studies & Continuing Education.[24] According to U.S. News & World Report, the five most popular majors for 2016 graduates at Purchase College were Visual and Performing Arts (48%); General Studies and Humanities (16%); Social Sciences (8%); Psychology (6%); and Communication, Journalism and related programs (5%).[25]

School of the Arts

Public art on campus

Purchase College's School of the Arts houses the college's schools of Art+Design and Art Management.[26] It also oversees Purchase's conservatories of Dance, Music and Theatre Arts.[26] Most courses offered by BA programs housed in the School of the Arts are open to all Purchase students.[27] Many BFA and MusB classes are open to all students as well.[27] Approximately 40% of Purchase College's student body is enrolled in the School of the Arts.[28]

The Jandon Business of the Arts Distinguished Lecture Series, endowed by the Donald Cecil family, is designed to enhance the arts management program at the college. Past lecturers include Joseph Volpe, former general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, and Ben Cameron, program director at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.[29]

School of Art+Design

Purchase College's School of Art+Design houses the college's programs in graphic design, painting/drawing, photography, printmaking, and sculpture.[30] It also houses the Richard and Dolly Maas Gallery, which exhibits work from emerging artists, students, faculty, and alumni.[31] The School of Art+Design hosts an annual Visiting Artist Lecture Series that brings artists, art historians, curators, and critics to campus for lectures and discussions with students and the broader Purchase community.[32] Previous guest lecturers include Jules de Balincourt,[33] Justine Kurland,[34] Amanda Ross-Ho,[35] and Barnaby Furnas.[36]

Conservatory of Dance

Inside the dance building

The Conservatory of Dance houses both bachelor's and master's programs.[37] It is one of the most highly regarded conservatories of dance in the United States.[38] Undergraduates may major in modern or performance ballet, and dance composition and dance production.[37] The conservatory confers master's degrees in dance choreography and performance teaching.[37] The Conservatory of Dance is housed in the Purchase College Dance Building, which was the first facility constructed in the United States solely for the study and performance of dance.[39]

It is also home to the Purchase Dance Company, the college's student dance company.[40] The Purchase Dance company presents The Nutcracker every December and a balanced repertory during the spring semester.[41] The dance company also tours throughout the United States and internationally during the college's summer break.[40] Purchase College students must audition for inclusion in the dance company, and the cast for individual shows is based on the technical competencies of members of the company.[41] Students may earn college credit for their participation in the company.[41]

Conservatory of Music

Purchase Jazz Orchestra performs at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Purchase College's Conservatory of Music houses the college's bachelor's and master's programs in music.[42] Undergraduates may study classical music instrumentation with a concentration in one of several types of instruments; voice and opera; classical composition; jazz; studio composition; or studio production.[42] The Conservatory of Music also offers master's programs in all of these areas, except studio production.[43] The enrollment in the conservatory is limited to 400 undergraduate and graduate students.[42] It is one of the few conservatories in the United States that produces full opera productions predominately for undergraduates.[44] The conservatory's Music Building has two recital halls, 75 practice rooms, 80 Steinway & Sons pianos, and professional recording studios.

The Purchase Opera, the school's student opera company, was founded in 1998 and has won nine first-place honors from the National Opera Association.[45] During the 2012-2013 season, the opera won first place in the National Opera Association's Division II for its production of Die Fledermaus and second place in Division III for its production of Hansel and Gretel.[46]

The Purchase Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece big band composed of students from the conservatory's jazz studies program. Each year the orchestra performs at jazz venues such as Blue Note Jazz Club and Dizzy's in New York City.[47][48]

Conservatory of Theatre Arts

Purchase Repertory Theatre presents multiple performances each year.

The Conservatory of Theatre Arts confers four undergraduate degrees: acting; playwriting and screenwriting; theatre design/technology; and theatre and performance.[49] It also offers a master's in theatre design/technology.[49] The conservatory is among the top theatre schools in the nation, according to the Princeton Review.[50] The conservatory was ranked 20 in Hollywood Reporter's list of Best Drama Schools in 2014.[51] It has a total enrollment of around 400 students.[52]

The conservatory's training focuses on the needs and strengths of individual students, instead of a one-size-fits-all training approach.[53] Students participate in showcases and exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, and on-campus at the school's blackbox theater.[53] Conservatory students can also work on Purchase Repertory Theatre productions. The theatre's productions are held at the Purchase Arts Center and are student-led shows that feature both acting and design/technology students.[52]

The Broadway Technical Theatre History Project at Purchase College presents the annual "Backstage Legends and Masters Award" to distinguished professionals who represent a variety of Broadway production specialties.[54]

School of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Purchase College's School of Liberal Arts and Sciences houses the college's School of Film and Media Studies; School of Humanities; School of Natural and Social Sciences and interdisciplinary studies.[55] Students can choose from 23 separate majors or they can design an interdisciplinary major from several courses of study.[55]

The annual Durst Lecture Series, supported by an endowment from the Durst family, brings in celebrated writers to the campus. Past lecturers include authors Tim O'Brien, Hettie Jones, Claudia Rankine and Manohla Dargis.[56][57]

School of Film and Media Studies

The college's School of Film and Media Studies houses undergraduate programs in Cinema Studies; Film; Media Studies; New Media, Playwriting and Screenwriting.[58]

School of Humanities

The School of Humanities houses the college's undergraduate programs in art history; creative writing; history; journalism; language and culture; literature; and philosophy.[59] It also offers a master's in art history.[59]

Poet Claudia Rankine, whose work has been featured in Harper's and The Kenyon Review, speaks to audience members after a lecture.

In addition to its curriculum, the School of Humanities frequently features renowned authors and scholars who provide lectures, known as the Durst Lecture Series. These lectures are supported by the Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature.[60] Past lecturers include Rachel Kushner, Claudia Rankine, Kirstin Valdez Quade, and Alexander Chee. Lectures are open to the public and provide an open forum for student feedback and interaction.

School of Natural and Social Sciences

Purchase College Student in lab facility of the Natural Sciences Building.

Purchase's School of Natural and Social Sciences houses the college's undergraduate programs in anthropology; biochemistry; biology; chemistry; economics; environmental studies; mathematics/computer science; political science; psychology; and sociology.[61] The school also presents an annual Natural and Social Sciences Symposium, which exhibits original research conducted by students; and a lecture series funded by Con Edison.[62]

Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary studies in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences encompass undergraduate programs in gender studies, Asian studies, and Latin American studies.[63] Also offered is the Liberal Arts Individualized Program of Study (informally called the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts).,[23] which is open to students who want to pursue an individualized course of study that is not accommodated by an existing major.[23] Students work with two faculty members representing their study disciplines to create an individualized curriculum.[23]

School of Liberal Studies & Continuing Education

The School of Liberal Studies & Continuing Education at Purchase College allows community residents and students to complete their bachelor's degree and to take both credit and noncredit courses at the college.[64] The school confers the bachelor's degree in liberal studies, which is designed for students with some undergraduate credit who want complete their degree within a tight time-frame and are looking for a flexible schedule. Up to 90 transfer credits are accepted in this program.[64] It also offers continuing education and certificate programs; an online winter session; and the college's summer session.[64]

Noncredit Professional Certificate Programs

The School of Liberal Studies & Continuing Education (LSCE) offers noncredit professional certificate courses in appraisal studies (summer only), arts management, drawing and painting, geographic information systems (GIS) (fall and spring only), home staging, interior design (fall and spring only), museum studies (fall and spring only), and social media marketing (fall and spring only). Students may take individual courses without commitment to an entire program, or complete the program requirements and earn a certificate.

The School of Liberal Studies & Continuing Education also partners with specific online providers to increase the flexibility and breadth of certificate offerings. Students can take online courses in nonprofit management, paralegal studies, and receive a CEU certificate upon completion of the health coach training program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN).[65]

Noncredit Personal Enrichment Courses

The School of Liberal Studies & Continuing Education offers noncredit personal enrichment courses that are open to the general public and allow participants to explore personal interests. Students may take courses in woodworking, wood turning, tattoo illustration, photography, creative writing, and filmmaking, with courses in other programs offered throughout the year. The personal enrichment program also offers students who are not enrolled in a degree program at Purchase College the opportunity to take selected undergraduate credit courses on a noncredit basis at a lower noncredit tuition rate. Additionally, students may take individual courses in any of the noncredit professional certificate programs without making a commitment to the entire program.[66]

Youth and Precollege Programs

For more than 38 years, the School of Liberal Arts & Continuing Education has offered the Summer Youth and Precollege Program in the Arts to provide precollege students a forum to experience enriching learning opportunities. Courses are offered in areas such as songwriting, acting, architecture, visual arts, creative writing, filmmaking, video game and app creation, voice, fashion, musical theatre, and more. Programs are offered in two- and four-week sessions over a six-week period, with full-day and commuter options.[67]

Senior project

New Media Senior Project Exhibition

Students at Purchase must successfully complete a senior project prior to graduation.[68] The senior project requires that students devote two semesters to original and creative study.[68]

Student life

Purchase Student Government Association

The Purchase Student Government Association (PSGA) is a nonprofit corporation responsible for managing the money collected from Purchase College students' Mandatory Student Activity Fee. The PSGA is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. These three branches are subdivided into six bodies: the Executive Board, the Senate, the Judicial Board, the Council of Clubs & Organizations, the Student Activities Board, and Services Board. In addition to advocating on the student body's behalf, the PSGA runs the college's Student Center, and most non-academic activities on campus, including numerous student-run services, and all clubs and organizations.[69]


Students gather at a weekly Cheese Club meeting on Purchase College's Great Lawn to tantalize their taste buds.

Purchase College hosts a variety of clubs, organizations and services for its students to engage in their hobbies and interests with one another. As of spring 2018, Purchase boasts over 50 of these organizations, reflecting its on-campus diversity.

Some of these clubs and organizations:

  • Complexuality
  • Gamers United
  • Cheese Club
  • F.O.R.T.H., or Feminists Organizing Real Transformation Here


In addition to its clubs, Purchase College holds several events throughout the year, accommodating the diverse musical and artistic interests of its student body. Most notably, these events include:

Purchase College does not officially recognize fraternities or sororities on its campus. However, upon request, the college will allow such organizations to use space on campus, as available, to the same extent it provides space to other student organizations. Sigma Alpha Mu has a chapter on campus, however, they're not recognized by SUNY Purchase.


SUNY Purchase teams, the Purchase Panthers, 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 volleyball. Women's sports include basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis and volleyball.

The Purchase College Athletic Department also houses non-varsity and intramural teams and clubs. Intramural teams include basketball, flag football, floor hockey, indoor soccer, racquet sports, co-ed softball, Water Polo, Quidditch and volleyball.[70] Intramural clubs include Men's Lacrosse, fencing club, stage combat, Tae Kwan Do, Ultimate Frisbee club, Nerf club, Outdoors Adventure, field hockey, Chung Do Kwan, equestrian, Zumba and PiYo.[71]

In 2014, SUNY Purchase Men's Soccer Program won its first Skyline Conference Championship, defeating St. Joe's (LI) in overtime by the score of 2-1 on Junior Sanguina's second goal of the game.


A side view of residence halls Outback and Fort Awesome (far left) from the parking lot of Purchase College.
Photograph of Student Services at Purchase College

Purchase College is located on approximately 500 acres in Westchester County, New York on the former Strathglass farm.[72] The property was originally owned by Thomas Thomas, an American Revolutionary war soldier, whose family-and-servant cemetery remains on the campus between the south end of the Humanities and Visual Arts buildings.[73] The college is adjacent to the Westchester County Airport, and is across the street from PepsiCo's corporate headquarters.

Dormitories and housing

A common room in the Crossroads residence hall at Purchase College.

Purchase college consists of five dormitory halls, Crossroads, Big Haus, Farside, Outback and Fort Awesome, along with three apartment complexes, The Olde, The Commons (The Neu), and Alumni Village. Crossroads, Farside, and parts of Big Haus house first year students and the staff in the building, one professional Residence Coordinator (RC) and two Residence Assistants (RA's) per floor, are accommodated towards offering first year students help.[74][75][76] The other parts of Big Haus along with Outback, Fort Awesome, and the apartment complexes are upperclassmen housing and the selection process of these buildings are determined by the amount of credits one has.[77][78][79][80][81] Outback residence hall is also a part of the wellness program housing the school provides which according to its page on the Purchase website "houses students committed to holistic health and wellness. Staff and residents develop programs that focus specifically on areas of Wellness including Physical, Intellectual, Vocational/Occupational, Emotional, Social (Cultural, Societal, Family, Community), Environmental and Spiritual."[82]

In the fall of 2016, a few apartments in the Commons K street apartment block caught fire. The fire was started in the kitchen of a lower level apartment while the students within it were cooking. The fire spread to the apartments above and surrounding causing many students to be displaced into hotels for several weeks following. No students were hurt and most were able to return to their apartments by the end of the semester except for the students in the apartments that were actually burned down. These students were housed in the neighboring college, Manhattanville, until replacement housing was available for them on campus.


The college's master architectural plan was created by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes and reflected the belief that "modern architecture might be able to reshape the world."[83] It has been described as a "period piece of the 1960s" and the architects who designed and built the campus include Philip Johnson and John Burgee, Paul Rudolph, Venturi & Rauch, Gwathmey Siegel & Henderson, The Architects Collaborative, Giovanni Pasanella, and Gunnar Birkerts.[83] The campus' original buildings were placed close together to allow the surrounding fields to remain open.[83] The college grounds are also home to many sculptures.[6]

Campus sustainability

The college consistently ranks as one of the top sustainable colleges in the nation having ranked 72nd by the Sierra Club's America's greenest colleges. This ranking factors in the college's energy use, waste, water, food, and purchasing policies.[84] The college is also included in the 2014 Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges.[85]

In 2014, the college unveiled the "Rocket" composting system, which has the capacity to handle 460 gallons of food waste every week.[86]

Performing Arts Center

Purchase Opera at the Performing Arts Center

Situated on the campus is the college's Performing Arts Center. It is a four-theatre complex that is the largest performing arts center in the SUNY system.[87] The center's performance spaces include the 1400-seat, three-tiered Concert Hall with hydraulic lifts for orchestra; the 600-seat Recital Hall with rear-screen projection bay; the 700-seat PepsiCo Theatre designed by Ming Cho Lee; and the Repertory Theatre, a "black box" with flexible stage and seating configurations.[88] Each theatre is specifically designed for the presentation of a different type of performance and many types of events.

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. The Center features world-class orchestras and leading contemporary artists emerging artists. As the major regional presenter of dance, programs have included appearances of many important traditional, contemporary, and folkloric companies. The Center has been the scene 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 Conservatory of Theatre Arts' Purchase Repertory Theatre. The Center's ongoing initiatives include artist partnerships, residency activities, and commissions.

Neuberger Museum of Art

A look inside Purchase College's Neuberger Museum, revamped in 2012.

The college also houses the Neuberger Museum of Art, which is among the ten largest museums in New York and the eighth-largest university museum in the nation.[6] The museum opened in 1972.[72] It holds a permanent collection of more than 7,000 works of art[89] and features a full schedule of exhibitions, lectures, films, and multimedia events. The museum presents more than a dozen exhibitions each year in addition to ongoing exhibitions from its permanent collections. The Neuberger Museum of Art has works from 20th-century masters, midcareer and emerging artists, and is well known for its permanent exhibition of African art.[90]

Notable faculty and alumni

Notable Purchase College faculty members include Bradley Brookshire, a harpsichordist and Grammy nominee; Todd Coolman, a jazz bassist and a two-time Grammy winner; composer Laura Kaminsky; pianist Steven Lubin; bassist Tim Cobb; and David Grill, a lighting designer who won Emmys for his work on the Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show and 2002 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony. Other faculty members include Iris Cahn, a film editor and Emmy nominee; dance choreographer Rosalind Newman; Liz Phillips, an artist and Guggenheim Fellow; Antonio Frasconi, an artist best known for his woodcuts and a Guggenheim Fellow; Andrew Bernstein, a philosopher and prominent Objectivist; writer Melissa Febos; and artists Steve Lambert, Kate Gilmore, and Hakan Topal.

Purchase College alumni are well represented throughout the arts. Actors who attended the college include Rochelle Aytes, Susie Essman, Edie Falco, Zoë Kravitz, Amanda Seales, Melissa Leo, James McDaniel, Janel Moloney, Parker Posey, Ving Rhames, Jay O. Sanders, Wesley Snipes, Sherry Stringfield, Stanley Tucci, Shea Whigham, and Constance Wu. Other film professionals who attended Purchase College include directors Ilya Chaiken, Abel Ferrara, Hal Hartley, Bob Gosse Michael Spiller, James Spione, Chris Wedge and Brian Michael Finn (citation needed). Theatrical designers David Gallo, Brian MacDevitt, Kenneth Posner and Tony award-winning lighting designer Jeff Crioter also attended the school. Emmy nominated costume designer, Lisa Padovani, Playwright Donald Margulies and dancers Kyle Abraham and Doug Varone are Purchase College alumni. Dancers Kyle Abraham, Terese Capucilli, and Doug Varone attended Purchase.

Other artists who attended Purchase include Katherine Bradford, Gregory Crewdson, Luis Croquer, Thomas E. Franklin, Jimmy Joe Roche, Jon Kessler, Ron Rocco, Chris Dorland, Grammy Nominated engineer Chris Conway and Fred Wilson. Emmy award-winning art director Fabrice Kenwood attended the school. Purchase counts among its alumni musicians such as Edward W. Hardy, Quentin Angus, Chris Ballew, Imani Coppola, Dan Deacon, Jack Dishel, Dan Romer, record producer Elite, the band Kiss Kiss, Jeffrey Lewis, Mase, the band O'Death, Daryl Palumbo, Bess Rogers, Joel Rubin, Langhorne Slim, Regina Spektor, Stephanie Winters and Jenny Owen Youngs, Mitski, and 2-time Caldecott Honor Award-winning writer and artist Laura Vaccaro Seeger.

Alumni from the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences include: NY Assembly Woman, Latrice Walker, Curator, Luis Croquer, Director of Amnesty International, Adotei Akwei, authors Nora Raleigh Baskin, Garth Greenwell, David Graeber, and Jeanne Darst. Also, Scientists Jill Bargonetti and Carl Safina attended the college along with journalists Manohla Dargis and Adam Nagourney, and Film Director Danny Leiner.[91]

Actor Stephen Rannazzisi falsely claimed for years to have attended Purchase College.[92]

Sources: Google Maps, The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Wikipedia, Yahoo! Answers

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