A Short History
Founded in 1896 to honor Thomas S. Clarkson, a pioneering entrepreneur and humanitarian, Clarkson University today is a national private university and innovation incubator for people who want to make things happen.
Consistent with the founders’ vision to always seek out the real needs of the American people, Clarkson stretches the boundaries of solution-oriented thinking by looking to what’s next, challenging the status quo, and leveraging our combined ingenuity at the intersections of science, technology, engineering, arts and business to create real impact, relevant innovations and enduring value in the world.
With its main campus in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research satellites in Saranac Lake (Trudeau Institute), Schenectady in the Capital Region, Beacon, New York City and online, the University attracts more than 4,300 enterprising, high-ability scholars from diverse backgrounds. Our students embrace challenge and thrive in rigorous programs in engineering, arts, sciences, business, education and health professions that lead to bachelor’s, master’s, certificate and/or doctoral degrees. Alumni, K-12 and community members also have access to many of the speakers, programs and educational resources.
Clarkson’s size is its advantage by fostering leadership, networking and problem solving skills; and readily affording students and faculty the flexibility to stretch boundaries across traditional academic areas. We add value to our students’ education by partnering with leading businesses, industries and thought leaders to bring relevance to the challenges and needs of the fast-paced world in which the boundaries of knowledge, discipline, nations and cultures blur. For over 120 years, our graduates have achieved extraordinary professional success, risen to societal challenges, and advanced the global economy ethically and responsibly. Among our 42,000 alumni, one in five is already a CEO, senior executive or owner of a company.
The University's main campus in Potsdam, NY is located on the historic 640-acre wooded homestead of the Clarkson family in the foothills of the Adirondack Park. Read more on the history of the Clarkson family and its ties to New York State below.
With four other universities nearby in the region (SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Canton and Paul Smith’s College), Potsdam is truly “a college town.” Clarkson community members enjoy a constantly changing social scene and an unparalleled intellectual quality of life largely influenced by our proximity to the north slope of the Adirondacks; easy drives to Lake Placid as well as Ottawa and Montreal, Canada; and a high level of regional camaraderie to encourage innovative partnerships in small business development, arts, tourism, recreation, agriculture and green energy.
The University also includes a Graduate School campus in Schenectady, New York that takes advantage of all that New York’s Capital Region has to offer. Like Potsdam, Schenectady has a large collegiate presence (Union College and Schenectady Community College in the same city) as well as many other educational institutions, research institutes and government think tanks.
We have graduate education and environmental research facilities in Beacon, New York (Hudson Valley) where our Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries is headquartered in Beacon, New York. All locations expand the world reach of the University and strengthen access to Clarkson’s corporate and alumni networks, education colleagues and research partners.
Graduate classes and K-12 outreach programs have also begun to be offered in New York City, as part of Clarkson’s role in revitalizing Pier 26 in Manhattan.
|Check out 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. With special thanks, too, to the Potsdam Museum and its Executive Director Mimi Van Dusen for being an excellent resource on the Clarkson family and the history of the University's influence on Potsdam.|