First Impressions: LeMoyne College (NY)
LeMoyne College was the third school that I visited during my recent trip to Central New York. Located in Syracuse, LeMoyne College is a smaller Jesuit school with around 2,800 undergraduates. It’s the youngest of 27 Jesuit colleges in our country, and one of three in New York State. Canisius College in Buffalo and Fordham University in the Big Apple are the others.
I came to learn about LeMoyne last fall.. Dr. Linda LeMura, the college’s president, moved into a house near campus, and her students nearby. She made this decision to help her help her students, over half on campus, keep the community safe in a COVID reality. In non-pandemic times, eighty-five percent of the undergraduate students live on campus. As they would at most other colleges, they move from standard corridor-style double rooms to singles and suites then apartments.
Syracuse is often perceived as a ‘Rust Belt’ city, a place in economic decline, though it is host to a high-profile research university as well as a medical school within the state university system. However, LeMoyne, while not far from Syracuse University, has a land-locked hilltop campus in a suburban residential neighborhood. If you want to come downtown or socialize at the bigger school. you must travel about two miles to get there. LeMoyne’s red brick campus is quite clean and well-maintained. But aside from the relatively new Coyne Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, you’ll walk through renovated buildings. The Madden School of Business, for example, was a former residence hall that was nicely repurposed into an academic building.
LeMoyne’s mix of majors proves that a small, regional college can thrive, if it offers highly desired programs.
LeMoyne offers 30 undergraduate majors. It’s one of the smallest colleges in the country to have an AACSB-accredited business school that has more majors and minors than I would expact at a school this size. This is only the third small school that I have visited that has its own small business incubator. Juniata and Washington & Jefferson, both in Pennsylvania, are the others. LeMoyne also offers accelerated paths to a law degree at four New York law schools and also provides direct entry to a Masters in Occupational Therapy , an MS in Physician’s Assistant Studies and a Doctor of Physical Therapy. There are also three opportunities to pursue a Bachelors in Nursing. One is for community college grads; the others offer a high school graduate a chance to earn the degree in three or four years.
Through this academic mix, LeMoyne fills demands for professionals in Central New York and the state at large. Eighty-five percent of the undergraduate student body comes from the Empire State. Nearly 8,000 alumni registered in LinkedIn.com reside in or near Syracuse. More than 2,000 based in or around the Big Apple and more than 1,000 are in the Albany metro area. Outside of New York there are over 600 alumni in the Boston metro area and nearly 500 in and around Washington DC.
If you were to choose a school on the basis of meeting its president, LeMoyne would be it.
Last fall, Dr. LeMura and Dr. Timothy Lee, Vice President, Enrollment Management, were kind enough to talk to me about the college and community. The interview was one of the reasons of that I decided to visit this college in person. In turn, I got to meet Dr. LeMura in person. She is one of the nicest, and most candid, college administrators I’ve ever met. Dr. LeMura is native to New York State. She earned her Bachelor’s in Biology and Education from Niagara University and masters and doctoral degrees in Physiology from Syracuse University. While other colleges recruit their presidents from other schools, Dr. LeMura was already working at LeMoyne as the college’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Originally hired as dean for arts and science, Dr. LeMura has been at LeMoyne since 2003. As president, she has expanded the college’s offerings in business and the health professions, among other accomplishments. Most important, she is the first female layperson to become president of a Jesuit college in the United States. Since Dr. LeMura arrived at LeMoyne , undergraduate enrollment has grown from 2,400 to 2,800. More interesting, the number of applications for the freshman class rose from fewer than 3,000 to more than 7,300.
LeMoyne does a great job at graduating the students it attracts.
Freshmen retention has been around 87 percent for several years, quite good for a private college that is located in a very competitive market for students. LeMoyne has graduated 70 percent of the freshmen who arrived in 2014 in four years, a regular occurrence in prior years, too. Compared to public colleges in New York, only two have done better at graduating a freshman class: Binghamton University and SUNY Geneseo. The college attracts a B to B+ student, though admissions to the accelerated programs in the health professions will be extremely competitive. The middle 50 percent who arrived in 2020 scored between 1070 and 1250 on the SAT and between 21 and 28 on the ACT.
LeMoyne is test optional and offers generous merit scholarships not dependent on test scores.
The school listed a sample of three on their Web site. LeMoyne College competes in NCAA Division II athletics, so there are athletic awards as well. Eighty-five percent of the freshmen who arrived in 2018 received need-based scholarships. A fair number of students pay close to, possibly less, than they might have paid to attend a public college in the Empire State or elsewhere. LeMoyne College also created Promise NY, which offers an automatic scholarship of $2,500/year on top of any other merit based aid the student receives–and you don’t need to be a New Yorker to receive it. There’s other benefits to Promise NY besides the scholarship. They include a commitment to help students graduate on time, mentoring and internship opportunities and a preparatory job interview.
LeMoyne has an interesting athletic profile.
The athletic teams are called the Dolphins. That was a surprise to me since these water-born mammals are hardly indigenous to Central New York. However, I learned that a dolphin is in the coat of arms for the Archdiocese of Syracuse. The colors on the coat of arms, green and gold, are also the college’s colors.
LeMoyne College formerly competed in D-1 in baseball and women’s lacrosse and D-2 in all other sports. Former major league pitcher and current Chicago Cubs broadcaster Jim Deshaies is a LeMoyne alumnus. Washington Nationals pitcher Josiah Gray is the latest alum to make the major leagues. A second-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2018, Gray was traded twice before landing on the Nationals roster this summer. Another recent alumnus, pitcher Ryan Murphy, was drafted in the fifth round by the San Francisco Giants in 2020. He got off to an amazing start in the minors. But while LeMoyne has made contributions to professional baseball, it is best known for lacrosse. The men’s lacrosse team has won six D-2 National Championships since 2004, including this past season. The women’s team won one in 2018.
I can imagine that it’s tough to stand out among colleges with more famous names in New York State and the Jesuit community. But LeMoyne College has a charismatic leader, offers achievable admissions, and it does a stellar job at guiding students to a degree. However, this is a young school, not overly well known outside of New York State. But if you love New York, want the Jesuit educational experience as well as access to some tremendous educational opportunities, LeMoyne College might be your school.
Report Card: LeMoyne College (NY)
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A/A
- Freshman Retention: B+
- Costs: A
- Curriculum: A
- Community: B+
- Comforts: B+
- Connections: B+ (New York)/B (Boston and Washington DC)/
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