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The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) is an American specialized doctoral-granting institution of the State University of New York. Its main campus is located in the University Hill neighborhood of Syracuse, New Yorkmarker. It shares a campus with, and is adjacent to, Syracuse Universitymarker and operates a number of satellite campuses, including the Ranger School in Wanakena, New Yorkmarker. ESF's curricula focus on the understanding and management of the environment and natural resources.


ESF was created through a bill signed by New Yorkmarker's Governor John Alden Dix in 1911, which established the College as the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University. The bill followed the state's defunding, in 1903, of the New York State College of Forestry at Cornell. However, the College of Forestry at Cornell continued as a legal entity, allowing Dean Liberty Hyde Bailey of the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell University, which had been established by a bill signed by Governor Benjamin Barker Odell, Jr. in 1904, to add a Department of Forestry in 1910–11 with the appointment of Walter Mulford of the University of Michigan as department chair. The previous year, Governor Hughes vetoed a bill authorizing a new State College of Forestry at Syracuse University.

Syracuse native and constitutional lawyer Louis Marshall, a prime mover for the establishment of the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve , became a Syracuse University Trustee in 1910. He confided in Chancellor James R. Day his desire to have an agricultural and forestry school at the University, and by 1911 his efforts resulted in a New York State bill to fund the project: the aforementioned appropriation bill signed by Governor Dix. Marshall was elected president of the college's Board of Trustees at its first meeting, in 1911; at the time of his death, eighteen years later, he was still president of the Board.

The first dean of the College was William L. Bray, a Ph.D., graduate from the University of Chicago, botanist, plant ecologist, biogeographer and Professor of Botany at Syracuse University. In 1907 he was made head of the botany department at Syracuse, and in 1908 he started teaching a forestry course in the basement of Lyman Hall. Bray was an associate of Gifford Pinchot, who was the first Chief of the United States Forest Service. In 1911, in addition to assuming the deanship of forestry, Bray organized the Agricultural Division at Syracuse University. He remained at Syracuse until 1943 as chair of botany and Dean of the Syracuse Graduate School.

In 1915, the same year that Dr. Bray published The Development of the Vegetation of New York State, he became one of the founding members, along with Raphael Zon and Yale School of Forestry's second dean, James W. Toumey, of the Ecological Society of America. In 1950, the 1917 "activist wing" of that Society formed today's The Nature Conservancy.

Fifty-two students were enrolled in the school's first year. One of the hallmarks of the College, its research, dates back to 1912, beginning with a study on what firms were using lumber in the state of New York as well as the wood species and quantities. In 1912, the College opened its Ranger School in Wanakena, in the Adirondacks. The College began enrolling women as early as 1915, but the first women to complete their degrees—one majoring in landscape engineering and two in pulp and paper—graduated in the late 1940s.

In January 1930, Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, recommending an allocation of $600,000 towards construction of the college's second building, in honor of Louis Marshall, recently deceased, noted that: "under [Marshall's] leadership and the leadership of its late dean, Franklin Moon, the School of Forestry made giant strides until it became recognized as the premier institution of its kind in the United States". The cornerstone of Louis Marshall Memorial Hall was laid in 1933 by former Governor and presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith who was elected to assume the presidency of the college's Board of Trustees.

With the formation of the State University of New York (SUNY) in 1948, the College became recognized as a specialized college within the SUNY system, and its name was changed to State University College of Forestry at Syracuse University. In 1972, the College's name was changed yet again to State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Unlike other state-supported degree-granting institutions which had been created at private institutions in New York State, the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University was an autonomous institution not administratively part of Syracuse University. In 2000, SUNY System Administration established ESF's "primacy" among the 64 SUNY campuses and contract colleges for development of new undergraduate degree programs in Environmental Science and Environmental Studies.


Main campus

The Syracuse campus is ESF's main campus, and is where most academic and administrative activity takes place. It is made up of seven main buildings:
  • Baker Laboratory: Named after Hugh P. Baker, Dean of the College from 1912-1920 and again 1930-33. The building is the location of several computer clusters and auditorium-style classrooms. It is home to the Faculty of Construction Management, Wood Products Engineering,and Departments of Environmental Resources and Forest Engineering. The building recently underwent a $37 million overhaul; providing updated space for the Tropical Timber Information Center and the Nelson C. Brown Center for Ultrastructure Studies. When the renovation is complete, Baker will be the site of ESF's NASA Affiliated Research Center. Baker Laboratory houses two multimedia lecture halls, a "smart" classroom outfitted for computer use and distance learning, and two construction management and planning studios. It also has a full-scale laboratory for materials science testing, including a modern dry kiln, a wood identification laboratory, shop facilities (including portable sawmill) and wood preservation laboratory.
  • Bray Hall: The building is the oldest on campus, completed in 1917, the largest building devoted to Forestry at the time. It is named after William L. Bray, a founder of the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University and its first Dean,1911-12. It is the location of most administrative offices, and the forest and natural resources management and environmental resources department.
  • Illick Hall: The building was completed in 1968, and is home to the environmental and forest biology department. It is named after Joseph S. Illick, a dean of the State University College of Forestry at Syracuse University. There is a large lecture hall (Illick 5) in the basement. Several greenhouses are located on the fifth floor. The Roosevelt Wildlife Museum is also located in the building.
  • Jahn Laboratory: Named after Edwin C. Jahn, a dean of the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University. The building is the newest on the campus, completed in 1997. Home to the chemistry department.
  • Marshall Hall: Named after Louis Marshall, one of the founders of the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University. Home to the landscape architecture and environmental studies departments. The Alumni (Nifkin) Lounge, Gallery (snack bar), Small Stores gift shop, and Marshall Auditorium are located within. There is a plaque outside the building that commemorates the contributions of Marshall and his son, alumnus Bob Marshall.
  • Moon Library: Dedicated to F. Franklin Moon, an early dean of the College. Completed in 1968, along with Illick Hall. A computer cluster and student lounge are located in the basement.
  • Walters Hall: Named after J. Henry Walters, who served on the College's Board of Trustees. Completed in 1969. Home to the Paper and Bioprocess Engineering Department. The pilot plant in the building includes two papermachines and wood-to-ethanol processing equipment.

Bray Hall, Marshall Hall, Illick Hall, and Moon Library border the quad. There are also a maintenance and operations building, garage, and greenhouse converted to office space. Several new buildings are planned, including new student dormitories, a campus "Gateway" building, and a research support building.

The historical Robin Hood Oak is located behind Bray Hall. The tree was grown from an acorn brought back by a faculty member from the Sherwood Forest in England. It was the first tree to be listed on the National Registrar of Historic Trees in the United States.

Image:Jahn Laboratory.jpg|Jahn LaboratoryImage:Moon Library.jpg|Moon LibraryImage:Illick Hall.jpg|Illick HallImage:Robin Hood Oak.jpg|Robin Hood Oak

The Ranger School at Wanakena

Wanakena campus

Students in the forest and natural resources management curriculum spend an academic year (48 credits) or summer at the "Ranger School," as it is simply called, to earn an associates degree in forest technology or surveying. The campus is situated on the Oswegatchie River that connects to Cranberry Lakemarker, in the northwestern part of the Adirondack Park. It includes the 3000 acre James F. Dubuar Memorial Forest.

Other campuses

  • Cranberry Lake Biological Station: Located in the Adirondack Park, it is the site of the College's summer field program in environmental and forest biology.
  • Huntington Wildlife Forest: A 6,000 hectare (15,000 acre) field station in the central Adirondack Mountains located near Newcomb, New York. It includes the Adirondack Ecological Center the Arbutus Great Camp, bunkhouses, and a dining center, among other facilities.
  • Tully Campus: Location of the Heiberg Memorial Forest and Genetic Field Station.
  • Warrensburg Campus: Location of the Pack Demonstration Forest and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation's Environmental Education Camp.
  • Thousand Islands Campus: Situated in the Thousand Islandsmarker are the Thousand Islands Biological Station and Ellis International Laboratory.
  • Forest Experimental Station: Located in the City of Syracuse.


The ESF mission statement is "to advance knowledge and skills and to promote the leadership necessary for the stewardship of both the natural and designed environments." ESF is a "specialized institution" of the State University of New York, meaning that curricula focus primarily on one field, the College's being environmental management and stewardship. Students supplement their education with courses taken at Syracuse University.

ESF has academic departments in the fields of chemistry; construction management and wood products engineering; environmental and forest biology; environmental resources and forest engineering; environmental science; environmental studies; forest and natural resources management; landscape architecture; and paper and bioprocess engineering.

Campus life

Many students identify themselves as a "Stumpy" (or "Stumpie"). The nickname was given to students by their neighbors at Syracuse University, probably in the 1920s, and most-likely refers to forestry "stump jumpers". Although originally used as an insult, today, most students embrace the nickname with pride.

Students at the Syracuse campus enjoy many activities on and off campus. There are a number of student clubs and organizations at ESF, including the Undergraduate Student Association, Graduate Student Association, Woodsmen Team, Bob Marshall Club, Alpha Xi Sigma Honor Society, Soccer Club, Sigma Lambda Alpha Honor Society, The Knothole (weekly newspaper), Papyrus Club, The Empire Forester (yearbook), Landscape Architecture Club (formally the Mollet Club), Forest Engineers Club, Habitat for Humanity, Ecologue (yearly journal), the Bioethics Society, Green Campus Initiative, and Baobab Society. Wanakena students have their own woodsmen and ice hockey teams. A number of professional organizations are also open to student membership, including the Society of American Foresters, Wildlife Society, Conservation Biology club, American Fisheries Association, and the (currently defunct) American Water Resources Association.

ESF has an agreement with adjacent Syracuse Universitymarker that allows its students enjoy many of the amenities offered by SU. ESF students can take SU classes, live in SU residence halls, and join any SU organization except for NCAA sports teams. SU students are also welcome to enroll in ESF classes. Because of this, students feel a certain degree of integration within the Syracuse University community. Every May, ESF holds a joint commencement ceremony with Syracuse University in the Carrier Domemarker. ESF degrees bear both the State University of New York and Syracuse University seals.

Students also enjoy a variety of shops, restaurants, museums, and theaters in Syracusemarker, and nearby Marshall Street and Westcott Street.


The best known tradition among ESF students is that walking across the quad is shunned. The tradition most likely started in the 1980s or 1990s to inhibit tracks being worn into the grass. Hecklers have been known to yell and even tackle people walking across the quad. However, other activities such as Frisbee and soccer playing are encouraged on the Quad.

Eustace B. Nifkin, ESF's mascot, is an unofficial student. He first appeared in the 1940s after a group of students summering in the Adirondacks thought him up. Ever since, he has appeared on class rosters, written articles for The Knothole, and sent mail to the College from around the world. He has a girlfriend, the lesser-known Elsa S. Freeborn. SUNY granted him a bachelor's degree in 1972. The Alumni Lounge in Marshall Hall is dedicated to Nifkin.

Another well known legend is that of Chainer or Chainsaw who supposedly graduated in 1993.

Traditional events include:
  • Earth Week events
  • Spring Banquet
  • December Soiree
  • Friends and Family BBQ
  • Coffee Haus
  • Festival of Places
  • Paper run
  • Donut Hours
  • Waste Audit
  • Free Movies Nights
  • Insomniacs


More than 18,000 have graduated from ESF since its founding in 1911. The college's Alumni Association was founded fourteen years later, in 1925. Notable alumni include: The accomplishments of additional outstanding ESF alumni are documented at:

Environmental Leadership

From soon after its founding, ESF affiliated individuals have been responsible for establishing and leading prominent scientific and advocacy organizations around the world focused on the environment. Others have provided leadership to governmental environmental agencies.

Related Pages



  1. " Department of Natural Resources – History. Cornell University Department of Natural Resources website. Retrieved on October 27, 2009.
  2. " Walter Mulford, Forestry: Berkeley". University of California: In Memoriam, April 1958. Retrieved on October 23, 2009.
  3. Rodgers, A.D. Liberty Hyde Bailey: A Story of American Plant Sciences. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1949.
  4. Alpert, Herbert. Louis Marshall: 1856-1929. 2008. ISBN:978-0-595-48230-6. p. 36.
  5. Louis Marshall,"Champion of Liberty", selected papers and addresses(in 2 volumes), edited by Charles Reznikoff,1957. Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia,PA.
  6. Bray, William. Forest Resources of Texas. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Bureau of Forestry, 1904.
  7. " The Knothole: Student Life and Government". April 4, 2008. Volume 61 Issue 9. Retrieved on October 23, 2009.
  8. " Chrono-Biographical Sketch: William Bray". A Biographical History of Biogeography by Charles H. Smith, Ph.D., Joshua Woleben, and Carubie Rodgers/ Retrieved on October 23, 2009.
  10. " A History of ESF". SUNY-ESF website. Retrieved on October 26, 2009.
  11. Adler, Cyrus, "Louis Marshall: A Biographical Sketch", American Jewish Year Book, 1930-31, pp. 54-55
  12. " ESF's Baker Laboratory Revamped for Engineering". ESF Office of Communications. Retrieved on October 23, 2009.
  13. " Adirondack Ecological Center". SUNY-ESF website. Retrieved on October 23, 2009.
  14. " ESF Mission & Vision". SUNY-ESF website. Retrieved on October 23, 2009.
  15. " Alumni". SUNY-ESF Alumni website. Retrieved on October 23, 2009.
  18. Graham, Frank Jr. 1978. The Adirondack Park: A Political History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, p. 147
  20. Sutter, Paul S. 2002. Driven Wild: How the Fight against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement. Seattle: University of Washington Press, p. 231
  21. "SAF Presidents", 5/14/2009. Available: Accessed November 15, 2009.
  22. SUNY-ESF, "Howard (Bud) Ris", n.d. Available: Accessed November 15, 2009.
  23. The Catalyst, "Howard's End", 2(2), Fall 2003, pp. 2-4, 19. Available:
  24. Shabecoff, Philip. 2003. A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement. Washington: Island Press, p. 81

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