About Nazareth

Our History

What Would Our Founders Do?

In this January 19, 2021 podcast, President Beth Paul, Ph.D., is joined by Tim Kneeland, Ph.D., professor of history and political science and Susan Nowak, Ph.D., SSJ, professor and Shannon chair of religious studies. Listen: What Would Our Founders Do?

From Catholic women's college to co-ed, religiously independent, comprehensive college

At the request of Bishop Hickey of Rochester, five Sisters of St. Joseph — with newly-minted Ph.D.’s that included graduate study at Oxford University and the Sorbonne — founded Nazareth College in 1924. Committed to academic excellence, these pioneering women inspired the first class of 25 young women to stretch to their potential. 


In the 1950s, the college responded to the need for graduate study by adding graduate programs, and by the 1970s, Nazareth was renowned for quality teacher education and social work. During this time of monumental change — which included lectures from eminent figures such as John Ciardi, Robert Fitzgerald, Edward Said, Gabriel Marcel, Dorothy Day, Rudolph Nureyev, and Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias — the college became coeducational and governmentally independent of the religious congregation. Nevertheless, it retained its original focus on academic excellence and the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph: “serving all without distinction.” 

Nazareth competed in men’s intercollegiate athletics for the first time in 1977. The official nickname of the sports teams became the Golden Flyers — golden for the Nazareth colors, and flyers for the bird-like symbol that was part of the Nazareth logo. Today, Nazareth supports more than two dozen varsity sports teams.

In the early 2000s, the college acquired the land adjacent to the campus, including the former Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse, which was converted into the Golisano Academic Center, housing classrooms and offices for many of the liberal arts faculty. This purchase doubled the size of the campus and provided faculty, staff, and students with 150 acres of beauty. 

Construction of the Clock Tower Commons residence hall, the state-of-the-art Peckham Hall for math and science, York Wellness and Rehabilitation Institute for allied health programs and community clinics, Glazer Music Performance Center, and the Golisano Training Center are further evidence of the ongoing innovation and pursuit of excellence that exemplify Nazareth College.

Nazareth College has grown to be the inclusive, religiously independent, comprehensive college it is today. Nazareth's internationally known Brian and Jean Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue promotes understanding for living peacefully in a diverse world. Nazareth's Center for Civic Engagement is nationally recognized for meaningful work in the local, national, and global community and for service learning. Experiential learning is part of every student's core curriculum.

Read more about Nazareth.

Golisano Training Center exterior


Latest addition: Golisano Training Center

Inclusion, fitness, and wellness for athletes of all abilities were celebrated at the October 21, 2019, grand opening of Nazareth's Golisano Training Center — a first-of-its kind collaboration and a national model of "wellness for all."

College Archives

The Nazareth College Archives collects, organizes, describes, maintains, promotes, and provides access to institutional records of enduring historical and research value as a resource for Nazareth College.

For more information, contact Deborah Janetos in the Library at djaneto1@naz.edu or 389-2140.

Naz Day and Founders Day

  • Naz Day: September 24 commemorates the first day of classes in 1924 and has become the focal point for remembrances for the College's founding and  birthday.
  • Founders Day: Marks the October 15 founding of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1650 in war-ravaged LePuy, France. The non-cloistered women were asked to divide the city, find the needs of the day, and address them, to benefit their "dear neighbors."
Lake Ave Mansion Nazareth College Rochester NY


The first Nazareth College classes were held on Lake Avenue in this Rochester, N.Y., mansion referred to as the “Glass House” for its avant-garde architecture.

Augustine St. Rochester NY Nazareth College


After just four years, enrollment at the new Nazareth College exceeded the capacity of its original location. The College was relocated to Augustine Street in Rochester.

Nazareth College East Avenue Rochester NY 1942


Nazareth College moved to its present location on East Avenue in the Rochester suburb of Pittsford. During these years of growth, the College was well known for educating local women as well as the daughters of professionals, ambassadors, and international figures.

Goliano Academic Center Nazareth College Rochester NY


The Academic Center — now known as the Golisano Academic Center — was built in 1927 and is the oldest and largest building on the Nazareth College campus. It was purchased from the Sisters of St. Joseph in 2003 and renovated to be used for academic and administrative purposes. It also houses the beautiful Linehan Chapel.

Peckham Hall Science Math Nazareth College Rochester NY


Peckham Hall features responsible and resource-efficient technologies that support cross-disciplinary science and math education, student-faculty collaborative research, and student-focused learning. 

York Wellness and Rehabilitation Institute


The Nazareth College York Wellness and Rehabilitation Institute provides expanded educational and clinical facilities for the School of Health and Human Services dedicated to nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, social work, creative arts therapy (music therapy and art therapy), and pre-medical and pre-dental studies. This expanded building provides a better-than-real-world experience for students and clients/patients, enables collaboration across disciplines, and stimulates important research.

Beston Hall in Glazer Music Performance Center


The $15.5 million Jane and Laurence Glazer Music Performance Center includes a 550-seat performance hall designed specifically for the acoustics of large instrumental ensembles and featuring state-of-the-art technology.