A Legacy of Leadership: The Chancellors and Presidents of Syracuse University

Charles N. Sims

Term of Office: April 1881 – October 1893
Inauguration Date: 28 June 1881

Charles Sims joined Syracuse University as its third Chancellor in April 1881, beginning his time on campus by teaching English classes and delivering weekly talks in the University chapel. He was officially inaugurated the day before the University’s tenth commencement. Leading the institution into its second decade, Sims’ administration focused on establishing a clear role for the Chancellor in many aspects of University life. During his tenure, the University Charter was amended to establish the University Senate, reorganize the Board of Trustees, and create an official endowment. Having done much to improve the institution’s financial well-being, Sims also oversaw the campus’ first building expansion. Holden Observatory, Crouse College, the first gymnasium, and the Von Ranke Library were all completed and dedicated during his time as Chancellor. Sims retired from the University in 1893 but returned to the City of Syracuse in 1898 as a minister of the First Methodist Church. He became a University trustee in 1903. Further information about Sims’ administration is available in the Archives’ Chancellor Charles N. Sims Collection.

Portrait of Chancellor Charles N. Sims, 1893. Syracuse University Portrait Collection, University Archives. Photograph by University Art Gallery, Syracuse.

Excerpt concerning the benefits of co-education from Chancellor Sims’ annual report to the Board of Trustees, 24 June 1884. Chancellor Charles N. Sims Collection, University Archives.

“The experiment of co-education has been tried in Syracuse University…long enough to enable us to speak intelligently and confidently concerning its practicability and value. The unanimous opinion of our several faculties is that those dangers which many suppose to attend the system…are imaginary, not real…co-education…does in fact secure the best education in refining and elevating, and secures the best preparation for practical life.” The support of Chancellor Sims for the importance of co-education reinforced the founding principle of inclusion as a defining characteristic of the institution.