Mission and Purpose
The mission of Russell Sage College is to prepare women to participate fully and actively in the life and work of society. The College seeks to provide women of all ages and backgrounds with a strong vision of their own power and potential. The College’s commitment to integrating liberal and career-focused study reflects the fundamental belief that each complements the other. Through both its academic program and supportive environment, Russell Sage College creates an intellectually challenging and caring community to facilitate the development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes essential in an increasingly interdependent world.
History of Russell Sage College
Founded by Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage and named for her husband, Russell Sage College is the outgrowth of the Emma Willard School, the oldest preparatory school for women in the United States. An 1847 graduate of Emma Willard, Mrs. Sage began a teaching career before marriage. In later life she became the custodian of a large fortune bequeathed by her financier husband and became America’s foremost woman philanthropist. When she was almost 88 years old, Mrs. Sage decided that the three original Willard School buildings in downtown Troy, N.Y. should be the nucleus of something “entirely different” from the preparatory school.
With Eliza Kellas, principal of Emma Willard, Mrs. Sage approved a blueprint for a curriculum that offered women students a new concept in American education: a combination of traditional liberal arts study with preparation for specific careers. Russell Sage College opened its doors in September 1916 as a “School of Practical Arts,” and students arrived from as far away as Oregon and Hawaii to enroll in its program.
By the time of its first four-year graduation in 1920, its academic program was solidly established, and the extracurricular life on campus was lively, complete with student government, student publications, clubs, and social events. On December 29, 1927, the New York Board of Regents granted a new and separate charter for Russell Sage College, reaffirmed the status of Emma Willard as a secondary school, and approved the legal transfer of property to the college.
Throughout its history, Russell Sage College has remained true to its founding mission. However, during World War II an Emergency Men’s Division was created which later became a coeducational Albany Division established in 1949 to offer associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees to government workers and returning veterans. Today, Russell Sage joins with the undergraduate Sage College of Albany and Sage Graduate School to make up The Sage Colleges.
A Russell Sage Education
Russell Sage College is a distinctive academic community: a small, professionally oriented college for women, where individuals count and are consistently challenged to develop their strengths, self-confidence, and autonomy. Academic standards are high at Russell Sage, as students learn to think critically, make sound value judgments, and develop a love of learning that will be theirs for life. Study in both the professional and liberal arts provides excellent preparation for successful careers and contributive lives.
Sage students benefit from recent research into areas of special significance to women. Female students tend to do particularly well in an environment valuing collaborative teaching and learning. Small classes and a college philosophy that emphasizes active learning and discussion foster such an environment here.
Interdisciplinary core courses required as part of the comprehensive general education program assist students in gaining an understanding of the status, conditions, and contributions of women around the world. The courses enable students to see themselves as potential agents for change, whether locally or globally, in the world beyond Sage.
Beyond the curricular focus on women, numerous programs and initiatives are provided each year to help students develop skills and self-confidence. Such efforts are sponsored by the Helen M. Upton Center for Women’s Studies, the Allies Center for the Study of Social Responsibility, the Opportunities for Women in Leadership Program (OWL), and the Returning Women’s Program, among others.
Highly credentialed, talented, and caring faculty members are teachers first and foremost, but they are also authors, researchers, and leaders in their fields of study and practice. They encourage, challenge, and support students and provide programs of study that systematically connect the classroom to the world beyond the campus.
College programs have reflected the RSC motto, “To Be, To Know, To Do,” since the college’s inception in 1916. Knowledge becomes valuable as it becomes action; RSC stresses the importance of practical experiences as a crucial component of the learning process. Russell Sage offers internships at more than 900 locations in New York and New England, with internship opportunities also available overseas. Sage students learn and work in hospitals, social service agencies, laboratories, courtrooms, museums, and art centers, as well as for newspapers, department stores, the New York State Legislature, state agencies, television and radio stations, banks, law enforcement agencies, schools, and halfway houses. Many students also collaborate with professors on original research. Some students present the results of their research at national meetings or publish in refereed journals.
Another hallmark of Russell Sage is the strong connection between undergraduate and graduate study. Several programs, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and nursing, offer accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s or bachelor’s to doctorate options. Any student at Russell Sage with an academic record that qualifies her for graduate entry may develop an individualized plan to combine undergraduate and graduate degrees. Russell Sage also offers joint degrees with other institutions, including a 3-2 program in mathematics and engineering with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a 3-3 program with Albany Law School.