The mission of St. Lawrence University is to provide an inspiring and demanding undergraduate education in the liberal arts to students selected for their seriousness of purpose and intellectual promise.
In the mid-1850s, four members of the Universalist Church ventured from St. Lawrence County in pursuit of establishing a 20-acre campus and a new building in the county seat. Armed with $9,000 in pledges from nearly 150 community members, they set out to persuade decision-makers in Syracuse that Canton should be the new home of a theological school with a college of letters and sciences alongside it. They knew the world needed St. Lawrence and, after much debate and deliberation, their dream came true: ‘The St. Lawrence University’ was chartered by the State of New York on April 3, 1856, as a Universalist seminary and college of letters and science.
St. Lawrence, the oldest coeducational institution of higher learning in New York State and home to one of the oldest environmental studies programs in the country, has championed progressive ideas such as critical thinking, sustainability, and a commitment to equity and inclusion since its founding day. The history of the Laurentian community is that of industry pioneers, renowned authors and astronomers, government leaders, movie stars, and sports legends.
Yet the history of this space in the North Country includes stories and accomplishments from others who came long before the University was chartered. St. Lawrence University occupies the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee (the People of the Longhouse)/Iroquois Confederacy. The United States is granted continued claim to this territory by the confederated nations (Kanienʼkehá꞉ka “the People of the Flint”/Mohawk, Onyota'a:ka “the People of the Upright Stone”/Oneida, Onondagaono “the Hill Place People”/Onondaga, Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ “the People of the Great Swamp”/Cayuga, Onongawaga “the People of the Great Hill”/Seneca, and Skarureh “the People of the Hemp”/Tuscarora) through a diplomatic relationship beginning with the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794.