The institution is said to have "opened most favorably," with a total enrollment the first year (1831-32) of 341, with 170-180 students attending at any one time. The Agents of the seminary solicited funds for the construction of buildings. In 1880, Bishop Matthew Simpson of the M.E. Church described the seminary's early years thus "no other institution in the church accomplishing apparently more in the education of active and useful young men and young women." The early years of the institution were said to be ones of "great prosperity." This was especially true under the administrations of the Rev. Schuyler Seager. Seager was born 8 July 1807 in Simsbury, Connecticut. He joined the Genesee Conference in 1833. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1836. That same year he was appointed Teacher of Moral Science and Belles-Lettres in the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary. He was chosen as Principal of the seminary in 1837. After entering pastoral ministry in 1844, he returned to the seminary in 1854, again as Principal. In 1856-57 he was made Principal of the Genesee Model School in Lima, New York, an offshoot of the seminary.
"What gives to Oxford and Cambridge, England, to Edinburgh, Scotland, to New Haven, Connecticut, their most illustrious names abroad?" asked one local writer. "Their Universities," he answered. "Syracuse has all the advantages: business, social, and religious – let her add the educational and she adds to her reputation, her desirability.After a year of dispute between the Methodist ministers, Lima and contending cities across the state, it was resolved to remove the college to Syracuse, New York to become the nucleus of Syracuse University. The college, its libraries, the students and faculty, and the college's two secret societies all relocated to Syracuse.