In its 1908 Bulletin Syracuse University announced a forestry course under the guidance of Professor William Bray of the Department of Botany. Bray had been brought to SU specifically for that purpose as Chancellor James Roscoe Day proceeded with his agenda to found a College of Forestry at Syracuse University. A strong proponent for founding a forestry school at SU, especially after the abandonment of the Forestry College at Cornell in 1903, the chancellor noted in the Bulletin of 1910: "The trustees and administration of the University have decided to establish definite courses in Agriculture and Forestry….Provision is made for utilizing the present facilities of the University in offering students - beginning in September 1910 - the opportunity of electing courses leading to specialization in Agriculture and Forestry."
By 1910 the University became more focused on establishing a College of Forestry. Chancellor Day enlisted senatorial friends and colleagues to present their arguments for the passage of a joint bill to the state government in Albany. He sought individuals such as A.S. Draper, New York Commissioner of Education, to write to the governor of their support of the college. Louis Marshall, friend and benefactor of the University, was invited to become a trustee of SU. In his Syracuse University: The Growing Years, W. Freeman Galpin stated that Marshall "became a shock battalion himself in fighting Syracuse's battles at Albany," which included his ceaseless presentations of Syracuse University's case to the governor's office. Although there were setbacks and delays, Marshall persevered and on July 28, 1911, New York State Governor John Dix signed the bill that made the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University a reality.
The University continued its involvement with the College of Forestry as a Board of Trustees for the College was formed: 6 of the 12 members were University appointees, including Marshall and Chancellor Day. In October 1911 Chancellor Day became a member of the Executive Committee of the Forestry College, and Professor Bray was appointed Acting Dean with classes being held in the University's Lyman Hall.
The Syracuse University Board of Trustees discussed plans for the new Forestry College at their meeting on January 16, 1912 led by Chancellor Day's report to the Board. The chancellor grandly stated that "the New York State College of Forestry should be the best in the country, for this is the greatest State in the country."
Dr. Hugh Baker was named the Forestry's first dean in 1912, and had many ambitions for the new College. There was still a lot of dependence on SU: Baker's office was in Lyman Hall, the curriculum was reliant upon University course offerings, and the majority of the instructors were members of Syracuse University's faculty. The University deeded a plot of land south of Archbold Stadium to the state to become the College of Forestry campus. The Rich Lumber Company donated land near Wanakena, NY, in the Adirondacks, to Syracuse University for forestry purposes, which was then given to the College of Forestry to become the Ranger School.
When critics argued that the University's continued involvement with the College of Forestry put it under the University's control and management, Louis Marshall introduced the Walters-Daley Bill in Albany, "designed to disarm the critics by amending the Law of 1911 so as to provide that all College trustees were to be appointed by the Governor." The revised charter made it absolutely clear the College was entirely under state control.
The Forestry Bill, passed in 1913, contained funds for the new Forestry building. Because the original donated site was found to be inadequate, the University deeded twice the amount plus a necessary right of way to the State of New York. The building, later named Bray Hall in honor of Dr. William Bray, opened in 1917.
From its founding, the College of Forestry was very much a part of campus life at Syracuse University. Forestry students took part in SU activities, and their own clubs appeared in SU's yearbook, the Onondagan. Graduates of both schools participated in a joint commencement. Also of note was Syracuse's lacrosse team, established in 1916 through the efforts of a small group of students of the College of Forestry. The original team was therefore largely composed of Forestry students-two well-known Forestry seniors, Orville Spicer and Howard Yaw, acting respectively as manager and captain-and Laurie Cox, a College of Forestry professor, was coach.