At the beginning of the 20th century, the demand for educational institutions for women was clear. Nearly 50 institutions of higher education were founded in the United States specifically for women, but the growing suffrage movement made the need for educated women even more critical. It is here, in the thick of the fight for the right to vote, that the story of The Sage Colleges began.
Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage
Born in 1828, Margaret Olivia Slocum was always committed to education. She graduated from Troy Female Seminary (today called Emma Willard School, one of America’s oldest institutions of learning for women) in 1847, and then became a school teacher in Syracuse, NY. She taught for 20 years, before marrying Mr. Russell Sage.
In 1906, Mr. Sage died and left his entire fortune of $70 million to his widow. Olivia Sage immediately began using the funds for philanthropy. She donated millions to colleges and universities in the northeast that went to women’s studies facilities including Princeton, Yale and Cornell. But, her life’s work was culminated when she founded Russell Sage College in Troy, New York in 1916.
The Birth of Russell Sage College
Russell Sage College was called a “school of practical arts” for women. Ms. Sage hoped her school would give women the ability to develop independence with a liberal arts education. At first, the school operated under the charter of her alma mater, Troy Female Seminary, and granted its first baccalaureate degree in 1918. Nine years later, the New York State Board of Regents gave Russell Sage College its own charter.
The school expanded to graduate studies during World War II, and in 1949 the Albany, NY division was opened. This campus began offering education to men and offered two-year, four-year, and graduate degrees. In 1957, it received its own degree-granting powers as the Sage Junior College of Albany.
The Sage Colleges Diversify
Sage Graduate School became its own separate entity in 1995, and was given power to grant degrees. The Board of Regents of New York State chartered The Sage Colleges and added Sage Evening College for working students. In 2001, the Sage Junior College of Albany became the four-year degree granting Sage College of Albany.
Sage restructured its graduate degree programs in 2009. The school focused around three key areas of expertise, with The Esteves School of Education, School of Health Sciences, and School of Management. The three schools offer programs at several levels and draw from the bachelor’s programs at Sage’s two undergraduate colleges.
The Sage Colleges have changed in a variety of ways over its nearly 100-year existence.
The founding college, Russell Sage, has kept its mission in Troy as a comprehensive four-year college whose primary mission is the education and advancement of women and offers undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts, sciences and professional fields and a unique women’s studies-focused core curriculum.
The coeducational Sage College of Albany offers undergraduate studies in many applied arts and sciences, and has a focus on Innovation Thinking at its core as well as an emphasis on internships to gain real-world experience.
The two undergraduate colleges are connected to the Sage Graduate Schools through accelerated and linked degree programs.
School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE)
SPCE offers bachelor’s degree completion programs created specifically for working adults. Students can complete degrees in the evenings, on weekends, and online, and earn their degree from Sage College of Albany. Sage also continues to develop non-degree continuing education and professional development offerings to meet the demands of today’s workforce.
Sage Graduate Schools
The Esteves School of Education, School of Health Sciences and School of Management are coed institutions that offer master’s degrees, post-master’s certificates and doctorates in several applied disciplines.
Now, Sage continues to expand its mission to provide practical education by adding online degree programs. These flexible, convenient programs allow students to study when and where they want, while still meeting work and family commitments. Students experience the same high-quality education as on-campus students, but in a program designed to help them succeed.
As Sage continues to grow, its mission will continue to live on. The school that began with the charity of one woman will continue to touch thousands of students, and give them an invaluable gift of higher education.