Orange is the New Pink & Green

I spent a nice weekend visiting my niece who started her post-high school education this fall at Syracuse University. While visiting, I began to wonder why SU’s nickname is “The Orange”.

Syracuse University was founded in 1870. The first official colors in 1872 were pea green and rose pink.  In 1873 the student consensus was “Can’t we do better than this?” and they changed to colors to pink and azure. That lasted through 1890 when the alumni changed the official color to orange — just orange (orange & white was rejected).

Why orange? Well, why not? From “Origins of Orange” at —

A report in “The Syracusan” in 1890 said the decision was “predicated upon the historical affinity that once existed between the Colony of New York and the House of Orange” (Holland). A 1929 issue of the Alumni News said orange was chosen because it is “symbolic of the golden apples of Hesperia, of the glory of the sunrise, and of hopes of a golden future. It is the hue of strength, vigor and confidence.” Professor John Scott Clark, Class of 1877, pitched orange during the great debate because “to his knowledge, not a single university or college had orange alone as its color.” How about, anything’s better than pea green and rose pink?

The nickname Orangemen apparently originated in the 1950s. The official nickname today is Syracuse Orange, although Orangemen and Orangewomen are still used.

Otto Display in the University Bookstore

The mascot is Otto the Orange; he dates from 1990, although there were earlier versions. How they got to Otto is a story in itself, and is beyond the scope of this essay. If you’re curious, the complete history of SU’s colors, nicknames, and mascots is at “Origins of Orange” (

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