History and Traditions

SRU opened its doors March 26, 1889, as Slippery Rock State Normal School. Its first president was James Morrow, grandfather of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and the enrollment for the first session was 168 students. Limited to a singular mission in teacher education, the normal school over the years fulfilled its mandate well, graduating thousands of students to staff the public schools in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation.

In 1926, the institution was purchased by the Commonwealth, became a four-year teachers college, and continued the tradition of teacher training. While the curricular preparations were in elementary education and in a number of secondary education subjects, the area of academic focus which was assigned at that time by the Pennsylvania Department of Education was in health and physical education. And it was in that concentration that the institution soon achieved a national reputation for excellence.

The institution was renamed Slippery Rock State College in 1960 and for the first time, could award undergraduate and graduate degrees in the liberal arts and in the professions. Expanded curricular offerings and an increased number of degree programs created an appreciable rise in enrollment. From 1960 to 1971, enrollment rose from 1,314 to 6,020 students, before eclipsing 7,000 in 1988, 8,000 in 2005 and reaching today’s level that exceed 8,800.

Name changes:

  • Established in March 1889 as Slippery Rock Normal School.
  • Changed in August 1927 to Slippery Rock State Teachers College.
  • Changed in June 1960 to Slippery Rock State College.
  • Changed in July 1983 to current name, Slippery Rock University.

Rocky, Our Mascot

While the nickname of SRU’s athletics teams is The Rock, the school’s mascot is a lion named Rocky. Why a lion? Well, SRU has a rich tradition of pride, which is also the name of a family of lions. We have pride in the University as a whole and particularly in its athletic traditions. Rocky I, SRU's mascot from the early 1980s through 2000, looked like a rock, but it didn't fully represent the pride we have at SRU. Rocky II, the mascot from 2000-07, displayed the pride we have at SRU but didn't fully represent SRU with the "look." Rocky III, our current mascot, provides SRU with an original mascot that encapsulates the pride, originality and look of the University.