Syracuse University History:

Why Orange?

Scrapbook Syracuse University's first colors, in 1872, were "pink and pea green," but then a year later became "rose pink and azure blue." SU's color finally was changed to orange in 1890. How Orange was adopted as the color of Syracuse University was described in June 1940 at the fiftieth reunion of the class of 1890. The chronicler was Frank J. Marion '90, the motion picture pioneer. Marion said his class was responsible for the change from the colors pink and blue. He recalled:

"At the end of our senior year Syracuse accepted the challenge of Hamilton College to a track meet and...a number of us went along to cheer our team. We wore high collars, right up to our chins -- cutaway coats, baggy trousers, and rolled-brim derby hats. On our canes we had ribbons of the college colors, pink and blue.

Much to our surprise, we won the meet, and on the train coming home from Utica we tried to "whoop it up." What kind of "whoopee" can be made with pink and blue, the pale kind you use on babies' what-do-you-call-thems? It just couldn't be done!

So on Monday morning a lot of us went to see the chancellor in his office and told him our tale of woe. Chancellor Sims was a kindly old gentleman, a real father to us all, and he was very sympathetic. He agreed that pink and blue were not very suitable colors.

SU Banner "Professor J. Scott Clark was named chairman of a committee to find new colors", Marion said. "I recall that we seniors had a sneaking idea that we might put over the class colors, orange and olive green." Professor Clark consulted Baird's manual, then the authority on college matters, to see what combinations of orange had already been taken. Orange and blue were the most popular, but orange alone apparently was not claimed by any school and was Syracuse's for the taking. It was adopted unanimously by the committee, the faculty, the Alumni Association, and finally the trustees."

* Syracuse University, The Critical Years, v. 3, 1984, pp. 391-392. (Wilson, Galpin, Barck).