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Our Founders

Sister Rose Miriam Smyth, SSJ
Sister Teresa Marie O'Connor, SSJ
Sister Rose Marie Carroll, SSJ
Sister Agnes Patricia Breen, SSJ
Sister Raphael Lyons, SSJ

Our History

Five Pioneering Women

Back in the early 1920s, the Bishop of Rochester asked that
the Sisters of St. Joseph found an institution for Catholic women.
This was no small request — schools like this weren’t common
at the time, and the general thinking was that women had no
place in higher education.

The Sisters took up the cause, but they did more than just
open the doors to classrooms. They believed educators should
lead by example, and so the five founding Sisters first circled
the globe to acquire Ph.D.’s and post-doctoral experience
at schools such as Fordham, Oxford, and the Sorbonne.
Their expertise became the cornerstones of Nazareth’s
first baccalaureate degree program, and their insistence on
academic excellence and commitment to the service of others
formed a solid foundation.

In the early 1970s, after much deliberation, the University
transitioned to the independent and co-educational institution
it is today.

Want to know more?

Explore a timeline of Nazareth's history and how it continues to shape today's learning and community impact.

Our Golden Flyer

Nazareth’s sports teams’ nickname “Golden Flyers” was adopted in 1977 when men’s basketball started. At that time, members of the Nazareth community were asked to submit names that described the bird-like symbol in the University’s official logo. A committee of students and administrators selected the name from the top three suggestions: Flyers, Wings, and Firebirds. “Golden” was added to further identify with Nazareth’s purple and gold colors. While a handful of other schools around the country have Flyers as a nickname, Nazareth retains sole possession of “Golden Flyers.” In recent years, the Golden Flyer mascot has become leaner, stronger, and faster, and in 2016 acquired both a superhero backstory and a community voted name: Swoop.

athletics logo
golden flyer

Campus Traditions

Battle of the Beaks
Class Photo
First Year Candlelight Ceremony
Flyer Fridays
Go Light Your World
Midnight Breakfast
Naz Weekend
Orientation Day of Service
Sigil Adoption Ceremony

The Legend of the White Squirrel

Long a fixture on campus, the beloved white squirrel has scampered its way into the hearts of students, faculty, and alumni alike. Squirrel lore has been widespread and well-known for years and has turned the animal into a Nazareth legend. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for your own sighting of the elusive white squirrel!

Sung by Brianna Sanford '16

    Alma Mater

    Alma Mater, we salute thee, Alma Mater, school we love.

    Make us worthy of thy lofty standards and thy noble teachings prove.

    Cheer for Naz'reth College of fame; chant her praises, great is her name; Raise her colors, float them on high while singing Hail to the college we love!

    Alma Mater, home of wisdom, Alma Mater, shrine of truth.
    We will ever as thy sons and daughters bless the mother of our youth.


    Words and music by Sr. Kathleen Riley, S.S.J.

    The Tunnels

    When wintry weather arrives, Nazareth's tunnels let students avoid the snow. Fellow Flyers can be spotted wearing shorts and flip-flops as they dash from dorm to classroom in the dead of winter. Since the 1940s, students have brightened the underground landscape by painting murals on the tunnel walls, at least one of which still exists today. The first tunnel mural (below) was created in 1942 by John C. Menihan, a friend of Nazareth and one of upstate New York’s most prominent and beloved artists. His mural, can be found on the tunnel wall leading from Smyth Hall to the Shults Center, depicts the Biblical figure of Ruth.