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A Short History:

Clarkson University was founded in 1896 as a memorial to Thomas S. Clarkson, a successful entrepreneur and Northern New York businessman who was also distinguished by a deep and abiding concern for humanity.

When Thomas Clarkson died as a result of an accident in his sandstone quarry, his sisters, Elizabeth, Frederica, and Lavinia, and niece, Annie, established a memorial to his name by building and endowing an institution that would embody his philosophy. Clarkson's original motto, "A Workman That Needeth Not to be Ashamed," is taken from Thomas S. Clarkson's favorite biblical verse. Clarkson's colors, green and gold, were selected because the goldenrod was Thomas S. Clarkson's favorite flower.

The Thomas S. Clarkson Memorial School of Technology opened its doors on September 2, 1896, for 17 young men and women. In 1913, the charter was amended, and the name was changed to the Thomas S. Clarkson Memorial College of Technology.

Steady growth and development resulted in the New York State Board of Regents designating Clarkson a University on February 24, 1984.

The Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries in Beacon, New York became a fully owned subsidiary of Clarkson University in 2011. Through a multi-disciplinary focus on science and technology, education and policy, the Institute is advancing real-time monitoring of New York’s rivers to create new standards for environmental science, promoting environmental stewardship with unique academic offerings, and informing long-term public policy solutions to protect water. www.bire

On February 1, 2016, Union Graduate College merged into Clarkson University and became Clarkson's Capital Region Campus serving as a hub for graduate and professional program admissions.   

Clarkson Today

Clarkson launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company.

Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences, education and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.  With 261 full-time teacher-scholars engaged in world-class research, Clarkson has developed an international reputation in the fields of Advanced Materials ScienceBiotechnologyEnvironment & EnergyEntrepreneurship and Global Supply Chain Management.

Yet the University remains true to Thomas Clarkson’s enduring legacy. Our primary mission is to educate talented and motivated men and women to become successful professionals through quality pre-collegiate, undergraduate, graduate, and professional continuing education programs.

At Clarkson, we value the diversity of our University community, and we strive to attune ourselves and our programs to our global, pluralistic society.

We share the belief that humane economic and social development derive from the expansion, diffusion, and application of knowledge.

    A Clarkson Mosaic: bits and pieces of academic, personal, sports and administrative history creating a portrait of Clarkson University's first hundred years 1896-1995 by Dr. Bradford B. Broughton.
Thomas S. Clarkson and his sister Lavinia play chess. The chess table is now in Foster House.

Founder Lavinia Clarkson and her brother, Thomas S. Clarkson, namesake of the University, play chess together.  The table is in use now in Foster House.

Holcroft Stained Glass

  • The Clarkson family coat of arms located in Holcroft House

    The seal of the University is based on the Clarkson family coat of arms.


Locations: Main Campus in Potsdam, N.Y., and hubs for graduate recruiting and programs in the Capital Region Campus in Schenectady, N.Y., and Beacon, N.Y.

Campus: 640 wooded acres in Potsdam, N.Y., adjacent to the six-million-acre Adirondack Park.

President: Anthony G. Collins

Programs of Study: 50+ in engineering, business, education, science, liberal arts, and health professions

Degrees granted: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Professional Studies, MBA, Master of Science, Master of Engineering, Master of Arts in Teaching, OT, Ph.D., DPT

4,300 undergraduates and graduate students from 46 states, 52 countries

Faculty and Staff: 893
Student-Faculty Ratio:
13:1 (undergraduate)

Undergraduate Admission Profile:

40% in top 10% of high school class

Study Abroad & Co-ops:
More than 37 study abroad programs in 20 countries; co-op opportunities

Division I ice hockey (men’s and women’s); 18 Division III sports

More than 100 clubs and professional societies
275 intramural teams
16 competitive design teams

Eight national; three local

Four national

Living Alumni: 40,000+