History & Tradition


  • 1837

    Photo - Horace Mann

    Horace Mann, the first Massachusetts secretary of education and a key figure in national reform efforts, is an excellent example of the multifaceted approach taken by education reformers. Mann was not an expert in the field of education when he was appointed to the Board of Education but was far better known as a lawyer and member of the Massachusetts Legislature.

    Also that year ...
     · Massachusetts establishes the Board of Education (BOE).
     · Edward Everett is governor of Massachusetts.

  • 1840

    Photo - Nicholas Tillinghast

    Nicholas Tillinghast, the first principal of the Bridgewater Normal School, was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, on September 22, 1804. He attended West Point (1820-1824), taught for a time at Boston English High School and, prior to his Bridgewater experience, served as an assistant to Samuel Newman, principal of Barre Normal School in Massachusetts. A pioneer in education reform and a formidable leader, Tillinghast guided Bridgewater Normal School through its first 13 years.

    Also that year ...
     · Bridgewater Normal School, an institution for teacher training, opens in the old Bridgewater Town Hall with seven male and 21 female students.
     · Abby Morton Diaz, a member of Bridgewater Normal School’s first graduating class, becomes a prominent author and women’s rights activist.

  • 1845

    Bridgewater State University catalog cover of the 1859-60 academic year

    Legislature changes name of normal schools to State Normal Schools.

    Also that year ...
     · Bridgewater Alumni convention adopts a constitution and becomes an association with a president and vice president.

  • 1846

    Bridgewater State Normal School opens its new school building in 1846

    Bridgewater State Normal School opens its new school building, the first in America built specifically for this purpose. The building includes a model schoolroom. Today, a simple stone at the side of the main quadrangle facing School Street marks this historic location.

    Also that year ...
     · Legislature votes to establish teacher institutes.
     · The Board of Education revises the academic term and mandates that students must attend three consecutive terms.

  • 1853

    Photo - Marshall Conant

    Marshall Conant appointed second principal of Bridgewater State Normal School.

    Born in Pomfret, VT, on January 5, 1801, Marshall Conant began his teaching career in a district school. At a very young age, he developed an interest in mechanics, astronomy and mathematics. Years later, as principal of the Bridgewater Normal School, he pushed the school in a more scientific direction with an emphasis on science and mathematics. He also laid the groundwork for a future building program.

    Also that year ...
     · Legislature passes statute opening the way for college students to attend normal schools for teacher preparation.

  • 1860

    Photo - Albert Gardner Boyden

    Albert Gardner Boyden, Class of 1849, appointed as third principal of Bridgewater State Normal School. Born in South Walpole, MA in 1827, he began teaching at age 14 and moved up the ranks in his profession. He returned to Bridgewater as chief assistant to Tillinghast and later to Marshall Conant, whom he replaced as principal. By the end of his 46-year tenure, the institution had grown from a school employing four instructors for 67 students to an institution employing 23 faculty for 300 students. The one building, 1.25-acre campus had grown to encompass five buildings on 16 acres.

  • 1863

    Photo - Albert Winship

    Albert E. Winship enrolls in Bridgewater, serves during the Civil War, has the distinction of being the only Bridgewater student to graduate in uniform; teaches at Bridgewater from 1868-1872; and eventually owns his own publishing company.

  • 1867

    Photo - Sarah Lewis

    Sarah Lewis enrolls at Bridgewater. The first clearly documented student of color, she graduates in 1869.

  • 1875

    Photo - Shuji Isawa

    Shuji Isawa comes from Japan to attend Bridgewater. Born in 1851, he grew up in the period known in Japan as the “New Meiji Restoration.” The Japanese government had ended centuries of isolation, and students were encouraged to study abroad and immerse themselves in western cultures. Albert and Isabella Boyden both developed a close relationship with Isawa that lasted long after he left the normal school. After graduating from Bridgewater in 1877, Isawa studied at Harvard University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. He returned to Japan to become the father of teacher education, playing the same role Horace Mann had assumed in the United States.

  • 1906

    Photo - Arthur Clarke Boyden

    Arthur Clarke Boyden is appointed to succeed his father as principal of Bridgewater State Normal School. Born on September 22, 1852, most of his 81 years were spent in some capacity at Bridgewater. He was a graduate, a prominent member of the science faculty and vice principal prior to becoming principal. Arthur earned a BA and MA from Amherst College. During his tenure, the institution grew to 544 students and 42 faculty. Three new departments were established – biology, sociology and economics – and a new emphasis was placed on a junior high school curriculum and on the training of librarians.

    Also that year ...
     · Albert Gardner Boyden resigns as of Aug. 1.
     · Arthur Boyden’s nature study exhibit (first shown in 1904) wins a gold medal at the Oregon Exhibition. Arthur was a leading figure in the nature study movement.
     · Harvard gives its students full credit for normal school course work.

  • 1917

    Honor Roll Flag

    America enters World War I; 57 Bridgewater graduates serve, four die.

    Joseph W. Corley W. Russell Sargent
    Everett Churchill Clinton E. Carpenter
    John B. Hebberd Harold R. Blake
    Howard Wilbur Orton C. Newhall
    John J. Lane Marcel H. Vigneron
    John J. O'Brien Harold D. Hunt
    William J. McCarthy John H. Harper
    James Murphy George E. McKinnon
    Francis J. McCann Ernest Burkley
    Walter H, Andrews Daniel V. O'Flaherty
    Daniel Wheeler William H. Chapman
    Cornelius F. Dunn Charles J. Fox
    John J. Sheehan L. Winthrop Crocker
    *Armenag Chamichian Thomas A. Pickett
    William S. Rau †Ralph C. Hollis
    *Robert E. Pellisier †Glen W. McLeod
    Harold E. Kendall †Thomas McDonough
    Edward A. Lincoln †John Mcllwraith
    * Died in service.
    † Entered service since above flag was made.
  • 1924

    Bridgewater State University suffers a devastating fire in 1924.

    On December 10, 1924, the campus suffered a devastating fire that destroyed a number of buildings and precipitated what was probably the most severe crisis in its long history. The fire also threatened a number of nearby houses. The fire began in the main academic building behind the ceiling of the old gymnasium on the basement floor of the structure. The night watchman immediately gave the alarm, but the fire was difficult to reach with hoses and quickly spread up the open stairways to the roof. A lack of water pressure rendering the pumps less than fully effective also hindered the firefighting efforts.

    Also that year ...
     · John J. Kelly becomes the dean of men and remains in this position until elevated to presidency in 1937.

  • 1932

    Image from Bridgewater State University 1932 Yearbook of Senior Class History

    Massachusetts Legislature approves college status for normal schools and designates all normal schools as state teachers colleges, each headed by a president rather than a principal.

  • 1933

    Photo - Zenos Scott

    Zenos Scott, former superintendent of schools in Springfield, MA, is inaugurated as president of Bridgewater State Teachers College on November 13. Scott was a graduate of Indiana State Normal School and held a BS from Evansville College, an MA from Teachers College of Columbia University and an honorary PhD from Evansville College. Although his tenure was brief, he accomplished or set in motion many of the goals he set out in his inaugural address. These included an emphasis on sports as part of a well-rounded liberal education; an effort to offer more opportunities to male students; an outreach to alumni to provide continuing education; and the development of a graduate degree.

    Also that year ...
     · Arthur Clarke Boyden dies of complications from tonsillitis on March 15, the first Bridgewater leader to die in office.
     · The country is in the throes of the Great Depression, which generated a back-to-school movement.
     · Franklin Roosevelt introduces the Civil Works Administration program and Bridgewater benefits with several hundred dollars used to paint select buildings.

  • 1937

    Photo - John Kelly

    John J. Kelly succeeds Zenos Scott as president of Bridgewater State Teachers College. Kelly had been a member of the faculty for 19 years, the majority of which time he served as dean of men. He was born in Worcester, MA in 1883. In 1914, he graduated from Fitchburg Normal School with a focus on teaching practical arts. In 1918, he came to Bridgewater as an instructor in practical arts. Kelly presided over the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bridgewater Normal School. President Kelly died in 1951. In 1956, the carillon bells were dedicated in his memory, and in 1966, the newly constructed gymnasium was named in his honor.

    Also that year ...
     · President Zenos Scott resigns as president and becomes superintendent of schools in St. Louis.
     · Bridgewater implements a graduate program in the fall and offers a Master of Science in Education.
     · Bridgewater holds its last three-year graduation; henceforth all graduating students receive a Bachelor of Science in Education.
     · Clement Maxwell joins Bridgewater faculty and serves as head of the Department of English and Director of Graduate Studies.

  • 1941

    Bridgewater students sort gasoline rationing cards during World War II.

    The United States enters World War II and Bridgewater State students do their part. One widely publicized collective activity was the sorting of gasoline rationing cards that had become mixed up during their trip in the mail from Washington to Boston. When no one was available to reassemble the books, former faculty member Alice Beal, the state supervisor of elementary education, arranged for the task to be done by Bridgewater students. Students and faculty were transported to Boston along with tables, chairs and even lunches. Dean Pope organized the work crews, which over a three-day period sorted through two million cards.

    Also that year ...
     · Only 96 students enroll in Bridgewater. The unofficial count of Bridgewater graduates serving in World War II lists 403 names, 63 of whom are women. Several faculty members also served during the war.

  • 1951

    Photo - Clement Maxwell

    Clement C. Maxwell becomes acting president and then president of Bridgewater State Teachers College. A native of Taunton who was born in 1898, he received his BA from Holy Cross in 1920 and his MA (1922) and PhD (1924) in English from Fordham and thus became the first Bridgewater president with an earned doctorate. One of the hallmarks of his administration was an increased emphasis on faculty scholarship. President Maxwell instituted Honor’s Day which continues today as Honors Week.

    Also that year ...
     · Bridgewater president John J. Kelly dies unexpectedly at the age of 68.
     · Massachusetts establishes statewide standards for teacher certification: a bachelor’s degree, American citizenship, good health and sound moral character.

  • 1960

    The football program is revived at Bridgewater State University in 1960.

    The football program is revived at Bridgewater when Edward Swenson (left), who also served as athletic director, assumed the position of coach. The university’s football field is named after him. Also shown is David Deep (second from left) who served as assistant football coach, head baseball coach and faculty in the Department of Health and Physical Education before serving as dean of men, dean of students and finally vice president of student services.

    Also that year ...
     · Legislature approves name change from “teachers colleges” to “state colleges” and Bridgewater State Teachers College becomes Bridgewater State College.
     · New women’s dorm opens and is named Pope Hall in honor of Dean S. Elizabeth Pope, the school’s first dean of women.

  • 1962

    Photo - Adrian Rondileau

    Adrian Rondileau is installed as president of Bridgewater State College. He received his BA in philosophy from the City College of New York in 1932 and his MA (1933) and PhD (1935) from Columbia in psychology and economics, respectively. During his tenure, the student body increased from 1,000 to 9,000 and the campus expanded from 36 to 170 acres. He was guided by two basic principles: the value of a broad-based education, and students should be prepared to become productive citizens after graduation. His legacy included an extensive building program and the willingness to open campus governance to more input from faculty and students.

    Also that year ...
     · The Dean’s List is introduced.

  • 1968

    Photo - Martin Luther King

    Bridgewater classes are canceled out of respect for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. following his assassination in Memphis in April of this year. In the aftermath of Dr. King’s death, a Martin Luther King Jr. Action Committee was formed. The group proposed to take immediate action against what it called “white racism” in America. Its goals included investigating economic inequities involving minorities in local communities, exchange programs with black colleges and universities, programs to help African-American students succeed at Bridgewater, and teach-ins for the town and college community.

  • 1970

    The new student union opens at Bridgewater State University.

    The new student union opens in September and is formally dedicated in May 1971.

    Also that year ...
     · Bridgewater classes are cancelled and the flags fly at half-staff to honor the four students killed by National Guard troops on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio. One thousand students from Bridgewater, Stonehill and Massasoit Community College march on the Brockton draft board as a general protest against the Vietnam War and the deaths of the Kent State students. The Brockton police chief praised the orderly nature of the march.
     · President Rondileau visits Brazil where he completes a six-week evaluation of Brazilian university administration under the auspices of the Agency for International Development.

  • 1989

    Photo - Dr. Adrian Tinsley

    Dr. Adrian Tinsley assumes the presidency of Bridgewater State College in June 1989, the first woman to lead the institution. Tinsley grew up in Virginia, graduated with honors from Bryn Mawr College (1958) and earned her master’s from the University of Washington (1962) and her PhD from Cornell (1969). She was a successful teacher and administrator prior to coming to Bridgewater. During her tenure at Bridgewater, Tinsley accomplished much, including clarifying the vision for Bridgewater; establishing the new academic structure and creating new schools and academic programs; modernizing the financial systems; constructing the Moakley and Tinsley centers and introducing new computing and telecommunications technology; integrating alumni affairs and development into an advancement division; initiating the first capital campaign; and making and solidifying connections with political leaders in the commonwealth.

  • 1990-91

    Photo - Joseph Moakley

    Congressman J. Joseph Moakley acquires a $10 million federal grant to update technologies at Bridgewater, believed to be the largest amount ever awarded by the federal government to a college in Bridgewater’s mission class.

    Also that year ...
     · Twenty-nine Bridgewater students mobilize for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the war against Iraq.
     · This academic year marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of Bridgewater’s founding.
     · Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria is hired as vice president for administration and finance at Bridgewater.

  • 2002

    Photo - Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria

    Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria is inaugurated as the 11th president of Bridgewater. He is Bridgewater’s first president of color and only the second person of Cape Verdean descent to lead an institution of higher education in the United States. Mohler-Faria was raised in Wareham, MA and was the first member of his family to complete high school and attend college. After high school he served in the U.S. Air Force before pursuing an associate’s degree from Cape Cod Community College (1972), followed by a BA (1974) and MA (1975) in history from Boston University and an EdD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (1984). He has spent his entire career working for public institutions of higher education in Massachusetts. His accomplishments as president include attaining university status in 2010; adding more buildings to the physical plant than in any time in Bridgewater’s history; instituting a new GER curriculum; creating more opportunities for students to broaden their horizons through study abroad trips; and forging partnerships with more than two dozen international universities.

    Also that year ...
     · Freshman class numbers 1,300 students, 12 percent larger than the previous year’s class; minority students make up 10 percent of the incoming class, which represents a 12 percent increase from the previous year.
     · Bridgewater concludes a successful 10-year NEASC evaluation.

  • 2010

    Bridgewater State University Opening Day Renaming of Institution Celebration

    Legislators and members of the Bridgewater State University community celebrate the renaming of the institution on Opening Day in September 2010. Earlier that summer, the Massachusetts General Court overwhelming approved legislation to grant university status to the commonwealth’s state colleges. The legislation was quickly signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick. Celebrating at the start of the 2010-2011 academic year are (from left): Fred Clark, ’83, executive officer of the Massachusetts State University Council of Presidents; State Sen. Marc R. Pacheco of Taunton; BSU President Dana Mohler-Faria; Rep. Peter Koutoujian,’83; Lou Ricciardi, ’81, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees; Dr. Adrian Tinsley, the 10th president of the institution; and Rep. David Flynn, ’58, of Bridgewater.


Key Events

Horace Mann
1837 - Horace Mann, the first Massachusetts secretary of education and a key figure in national reform efforts, is an excellent example of the multifaceted approach taken by education reformers.
Students in front of Boyden Quad
1960 - Legislature approves name change from "teachers colleges" to "state colleges" and Bridgewater State Teachers College becomes Bridgewater State College.
Bridgewater quad in 2010
2010 - Massachusetts General Court overwhelming approved legislation to grant university status to the commonwealth’s state colleges.


Selected content courtesy of Not to be Ministered Unto, But to Minister. Bridgewater State University 1840-2010 by Thomas R. Turner, and the Bridgewater yearbook archive.