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

James Roscoe Day

Term of Office: April 1894 – June 1922
Inauguration Date: 27 June 1894

James Roscoe Day was the University’s fourth and longest-serving Chancellor. Upon entering the office he stated, “I see in my mind’s eye a great university on the Hill. Instead of three colleges, I see a dozen colleges. Instead of several buildings, I see a score of buildings. Instead of a student body of 800, I see a student body of 8,000 and the university at the center of the educational system of the state of New York.” Day’s relationships with significant donors like John D. Archbold provided the opportunity to realize his vision. During his 28 years as Chancellor, the University added 22 new buildings including Bowne Hall of Chemistry, Carnegie Library, Archbold Stadium and Gymnasium, and its first dormitories. He oversaw the establishment of 13 new divisions and schools including the College of Law and School of Home Economics. This growth attracted scores of new students, raising enrollment from roughly 800 to over 6,000 and transforming the University from a Methodist institution to a nonsectarian university with a worldwide reputation. Day retired in 1922. Additional information about Day’s tenure as chancellor can be found in the Archives’ Chancellor James Roscoe Day Papers.

Portrait of Chancellor James Roscoe Day. Syracuse University Portrait Collection, University Archives.

Photograph of Chancellor Day with the Japanese Commission, 9 October 1909. J. Herman Wharton Papers, University Archives.

The Japanese Commission’s tour of the United States made a stop at the University and was led on a campus tour by Chancellor Day and the deans before attending part of a football game. Japanese students accompanied the group as interpreters. The Commission concluded its visit to the area with a banquet at Yates Castle. “This was undoubtedly the most important international affair ever in Syracuse,” stated a Daily Orange article printed the following day.