Student Handbook

History and Traditions


St. Cloud State University (SCSU) opened its doors to students in 1869, under the name Third State Normal School. The school consisted of one building, the Stearns House, a renovated hotel purchased by the state Legislature for $3,000. Classrooms were on the first floor, the "model school" was on second floor and a women's dormitory was housed on the third floor.

The five-member faculty was headed by Principal Ira Moore. Of the 53 original students, 43 were women. From this modest beginning, St. Cloud State has evolved into a university with a national reputation for excellence, a faculty of approximately 700 and a student body of more than 15,400 full- and part-time students. SCSU is one of the largest of the 31 institutions of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System.

In 1898, the school began offering a junior college curriculum. In 1914, the school dropped its secondary education program entirely. The legislature authorized a name change in 1921, allowing the school to adopt the name St. Cloud State Teachers College (the word "teachers" was deleted in 1957). In 1975, St. Cloud State became a university, comprised of five colleges and a graduate school.

The first bachelor's degrees were awarded in 1925, with master's degree programs offered beginning in 1953. SCSU now confers degrees from the College of Liberal Arts, School of the Arts, College of Science & Engineering, School of Computing, Engineering & Environment, Herberger Business School, College of Education and Learning Design, School of Health & Human Services and the School of Public Affairs.

Building on its rich history as a teacher preparatory college, SCSU has built strong academic programs in other areas. The Herberger Business School, for example, is recognized as one of the top business colleges in the country and is one of only seven in the state that is nationally accredited.

SCSU students can take British studies courses in one of England’s castles. Visit an Australian koala sanctuary between classes. Learn about political science in Laos, Thailand and Malaysia. These are just a few of the opportunities St. Cloud State’s Education Abroad programming offers. St. Cloud State has more than 30 Education Abroad programs to get a global education while traveling the globe.

University life includes thriving and enriching recreation programs, arts and performance areas, athletic teams, lectures and student organizations.

Today, SCSU is a multipurpose University with nearly 110,000 alumni who call St. Cloud State their alma mater, you’re part of a diverse and dynamic family of alumni — from teachers and journalists to CEOs and NHL stars.

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The Husky Nickname: St. Cloud State's nickname has gone through several changes over the years. Early nicknames included "Normals," "Teachers," "Bear Cats," "Peds," and "Flying Clouds."

There are several theories about how the nickname "Huskies" began to be used. One says that it is a result of a student contest. Another suggests that the name originated with the football team. There was a story in the February 4, 1938, edition of the College Chronicle which referred to the "football huskies." Since huskies was not capitalized in the story, the author could have been referring to the team's size and this possibly led to the nickname. "I think it occurred during Coach Kasch's days as football coach (1935-42)," said John Weisman, former SCSU Dean of Men and former coach. "The team just started calling themselves the Huskies." Why the name was chosen or who exactly selected it remains unclear. The name could have been intended to mean "burly, robust or large," "one that is husky" or "a heavily coated working dog of the arctic region." Perhaps the nickname was meant to encompass all three meanings. Regardless of its origin, the Husky nickname continues to represent SCSU as a symbol and image of strength.

Blizzard: Meet Blizzard The Husky, mascot for St. Cloud State students, alumni, employees, campus activities and 23 NCAA teams. Follow Blizzard on Twitter at

Learn more about Huskies Athletics at Buy event tickets for at

The University Seal: The University Seal was redesigned in 2001 and portrays the cupola that sits atop Riverview Building, surrounded by oak leaves. The visuals were chosen to illustrate SCSU’s long history of teacher preparation (Riverview was built to serve as the lab school for St. Cloud Normal School students to teach area children) and the University’s location on the oak-crowned banks of the Mississippi River.

The Oak LeafThe oak leaf has long been a symbol for life and learning at St. Cloud State, where change is as constant as the flowing waters of the Mississippi River. Here the oak leaf signifies distinctions and facts that set St. Cloud State apart and foster institutional pride.

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