A full, detailed timeline of Lesley University's 100-year history.
The Beginning: 1909 Founded by Edith Lesley
The Teens:Women in the World
The 20s: A Time for Growth
The 30s:Challenges during the Depression
The 40s:Becoming a College
The 50s:The Semi-Centennial and the Loss of Lesley's Founder
The 60s:Planning for a New Campus
The 70sInnovation in the Graduate School
The 80s:The Ph.D. Program Begins
The 90sThe Art Institute of Boston Merges with Lesley
The New Century: 2000Becoming a University
The Beginning: Founded by Edith Lesley
1909 - Edith Lesley, a kindergarten teacher in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, founded the Lesley Normal School, a two-year
school to train Kindergarten teachers. Edith taught philosophy, child
study, and the theory and methods of Friedrich Froebel, the founder of
the Kindergarten movement. Her sister, Olive, taught folk dancing,
games, and storytelling. Anna Tikkanen, an international student from
Finland, was the first student enrolled in the Lesley Normal School.
Following Anna, eight other students enrolled, for a total of nine
students, each paying a tuition of $100 per year. The classes met in
Edith's home at 29 Everett Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Teens: Women in the World
1911 - The first class of 11 graduated
at the First Parish Church (Unitarian) in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 10.
1912 - The Art Institute of Boston (AIB) was founded
by Roy Atherton Davidson as the School for Practical Art. The school
opened in Davison's own studio, three small rooms in Boston's Back Bay,
and was one of the first private, non-affiliated studio schools in the
1913 - Forty of 43 Lesley Normal School graduates
were teachers. The other three were married and therefore were not
allowed to hold teaching positions.
The 1913-1914 school year offered four courses of study:
1. The Kindergarten Course. A two-year program based on the theories of Friedrich Froebel, the founder of the Kindergarten movement.
2.The Playground Course. A one-year program that combined physical education, story-telling, pottery, and psychology.
3. The Grade Teachers Course. A two-year program focusing on methods of teaching, including classroom observation.
4. The Special Course. A one-year general survey course of kindergarten and primary methods of instruction.
1917 - The
Department of Domestic Science was created, offering a three-year
course in Home Economics, and the Lesley Normal School was renamed the
1918 - Gertrude Malloch, who served as both a teacher and an administrator, was named as the Principal of the Lesley Normal School.
The 20s: A Time for Growth
1921 - Edith Lesley Wolfard and her husband Merl
Ruskin Wolfard converted their summer home on Pasquaney Lake in
Bridgewater, New Hampshire into the Lesley Camp. Lesley School students
studied at the camp during the summers to receive camp certificates in
various subjects like handicrafts and sports.
1922 - Adjoining properties were acquired for three
dormitories and Alumni Hall was built as an assembly hall with
classrooms in the basement.
The tuition for the 1922-1923 school year was $200 per year plus $550 for room and board.
Practice teaching and observation was added to the curriculum of the
Department of Kindergarten Training and the Department of Primary
1923 - A spring Tea Dance was held in conjunction
with Harvard students to inaugurate the opening of Alumni Hall with the
band, Crimson Ramblers, providing music.
1924 - The first yearbook, The Lesleyan, was printed.
1926 - Students were required to join one of the
following activities as part of their course work: Committee Work,
Dramatic Group, Glee Club, Gymnasium, or Orchestra.
1928 - The Lesley School's enrollment reached more than 300 students, both boarding and day.
1929 - The Lesley School offered 75 courses for
students in the subjects of Kindergarten Training, Primary Training, and
The 30s: Challenges During the Depression
1930 - Edith Lesley Wolfard added her family coat of
arms, two griffins holding a field medal, to the furnishings from
around the world she collected to make the school as "homey as possible"
and adopted for the school the coat of arms' moto, "I had perished had I
not persisted." Edith believed her ancestry was connected to Lord
Newark, David Leslie, who received his title in August 1660 for valor
during a battle against the invasion of Scotland by Oliver Cromwell.
The elf, another of Edith Lesley Wolfard's collection, was adopted as Lesley's mascot, and his lantern lit for celebrations.
1932 - Requirements for admission to the Lesley School were as follows:
1. Graduation from a four-year high school or from an accredited three-year high school on the junior plan.
2. Transcript of High school credits.
3. Doctor's certificate of good health.
4. Letter of recommendation from a teacher.
5. A business reference.
6. A "glossy" 4 X 6 head shot without a hat.
7. Ability to sing and play piano (for the Kindergarten-primary training program only).
1934 - The Depression took its toll on enrollment
with only 63 students taking classes. Tuition was as follows: $220 per
year for the Teacher Training Program and $390 per year for the Domestic
Science Program, plus a $325 fee per year for use of the dormitories.
1938 - Gertrude Malloch was appointed chief administrator as Edith Lesley Wolfard's health began to decline.
1939 - The Lesley School began a four-year teacher training program.
The Department of Domestic Science was renamed the Department of Home Economics.
After 30 years of private ownership, the Lesley School was incorporated as a non-profit institution.
The 40s: Becoming a College
1940 - According to the Alumnae Association, there
were over 2,000 Lesley School graduates scattered all over the United
States and the world.
1941 - The first Board of Trustees was established to make Lesley a school of "collegiate caliber."
1943 - The Lesley School became a four-year,
not-for-profit educational institution and was authorized by the state
of Massachusetts to be renamed Lesley College and given the right to
confer the degree of Bachelor of Science in Education.
Marguerite Franklin was hired as President to transition the Lesley School to Lesley College.
1944 - Trentwell Mason White became President.
Clara Thurber became the first Dean of Lesley College.
The first annual Edith Lesley Wolfard award, presented at
commencement to honor a student for outstanding scholarship, was given
to Mildred Goss.
President White wrote the school song, "Loyal Lesley Daughters."
Lesley College's purpose was reaffirmed as the following: "The aim of
Lesley is simple but far-reaching: the preparation of good teachers and
homemakers through the personal development of young women who can
serve civilization and at the same time earn an independent living."
Lesley College Statistics:
Buildings = 4
Value of Real Estate = $28,300
Endowments = $32,300
Enrollment = 86 (low due to WWII)
Employees = 28
1945 - The first bachelor's degrees were conferred in June; 5 out of the 23 graduating students received a B.S. in Education.
The Home Economics Department was abolished.
1947 - Summer Session and Afternoon, Evening, and Saturday courses were added to traditional daytime courses.
1948 - The Lesley College Alumnae Association
created its first annual semester tuition scholarship for degree
candidates above the freshman class who had high academic standing.
1949 - Three private elementary schools - the
Lesley-Ellis, Dearborn and Carroll-Hall - were acquired to provide
students a "Laboratory for Learning."
The 50s: The Semi-Centennial and the Loss of Lesley's Founder
1950 - Stebbins Hall was built, adding two floors above Alumni Hall, including a library.
1953 - Edith Lesley Wolfard died. During a tribute
held in her honor on May 21, 1953, President Trentwell Mason White
recalled Edith's advice to him: "The girls at Lesley will give their
best when the best is expected from them. Insist these standards. Demand
the top not the second-rate."
1955 - The first five students of the Graduate School received their degree.
The Undergraduate School was accredited by the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
1958 - The newly built Trentwell Mason White Hall, a dormitory and dining room, opened.
1959 - President Trentwell Mason White died
unexpectedly and Sam Wonders, President of the Board of Trustees, served
as Acting President.
Lesley College celebrated its semi-centennial with a week of events
during May 5 through May 10, 1959 that included a May Day Celebration;
several musical and dramatic productions; and an Alumnae Day.
Owen B. Kiernan, Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, gave the
keynote address at the Semi-Centennial Convocation, whose guests
included Massachusetts Governor John Foster Furcolo, the presidents of
Lesley's four neighboring Cambridge institutions of higher education,
Cambridge city and school officials, and the head of seven independent
private schools of Cambridge.
Lesley College Statistics: Buildings = 10
Value of Real Estate = $1,065,614
Endowments = $159,165 / $94,049 (Ford Foundation)
Enrollment = 380 Undergraduate School; 52 Graduate School
Employees = 79
The 60s: Planning for a New Campus
1960 - Don Orton was appointed as the new President of Lesley College.
Graduate training for special education teachers was offered in response to a growing interest in learning disabilities.
1962 - The New England Kindergarten Conference was started by the Lesley Graduate School.
1964 - Lesley's graduate programs were accredited by the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
The graduate programs were organized as the Lesley College Graduate School of Education.
1965 - Lesley College initiated a new building plan
that eventually renovated the campus, creating a quadrangle, with a new
library, dorm space, faculty and administrative offices, and classrooms.
1967 - Gertrude Malloch died, leaving her house to the College to be used "as a home for the president of Lesley College."
The City of Cambridge gave Lesley College permission to close off and
incorporate the portion of Mellen Street that bisects the campus.
The School of Practical Art was renamed the Art Institute of Boston
(AIB), establishing itself as a non-profit institution of higher
education and preparing for future expansion and development.
A Graduate Center was opened in 9 Mellon Street, creating the Graduate School's first building on campus.
Lesley College Statistics:
Buildings = 28
Enrollment = 550 Undergraduate School; 25 Graduate School
Employees = 225
The 70s: Innovation in the Graduate School
1970 - Lesley students went on strike to demand more
rights. The administration responded with changes in curriculum,
curfew, scheduling, and living arrangements.
The Art Institute of Boston (AIB) moved to its location in Kenmore Square.
1970 - The Independent Study Program of the Graduate
School began, under the auspices of Professor Cynthia Cole, with five
students who designed their own course of study.
1973 - The new campus, or urban academic village,
was completed after eight years of planning and construction. The new
campus created a quadrangle with a library, dorm space, academic
offices, and classrooms.
1974 - Institute for Arts and Human Development was
created by Professor Shaun McNiff with an Expressive Therapies track and
an Arts Education track.
1975 - The Expressive Therapies Graduate Program
began under the direction of Shaun McNiff as an expansion of the
Institute of Arts and Human Development. The Master's program was the
first of its kind in the United States that integrated all the arts,
dance, theater, psychodrama, music, poetry, and the visual arts with the
practice of psychotherapy.
The Counseling and Psychology Program began with 21 students,
blending instruction in theory with field experience and a focus on
creating a self-awareness in the counselor-in-training.
1976 - The Creative Arts in Learning Program began
under the direction of Nancy Langstaff as the only interdisciplinary
arts-based education program in the United States.
Program Evaluation and Research Group (PERG) started by professors George Hein
and Brenda Engel initiated emphasizing naturalistic, in depth methods
for program evaluation.
The Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) was by professor
George Hein introduced as an interdisciplinary program for professionals
to expand skills beyond the Master's level.
1978 - The Lesley Graduate School included five
areas (Education, Management, Counseling Psychology, Institute for Arts
and Human Development, Outreach and Alternative Education) and offered
18 different programs.
The Art Institute of Boston (AIB) received accreditation from the National Association of Trade Schools.
1979 - Lesley College launched the Technology in Education Graduate Program, the first of its kind in the United States.
The 80s: The Ph.D. Program Begins
1980 - Audubon Expedition Institute (AEI) launched,
enabling students to earn their Bachelor and Master's degrees by
traveling across the country on a bus and learning about the environment
by living in it.
Expressive Therapies training program was offered to professionals in Israel.
Adult Baccalaureate Program began for older students trying to balance
full time work while returning to school to earn an undergraduate
1981 - Programs in Management for Business and Industry (PMBI), an accelerated program for working adults, was established.
Off-campus programs expanded and Lesley College Graduate School of Education became the Lesley Graduate School.
1982 - The Threshold Program, a non-degree
campus-based program for young adults with diverse learning disabilities
and other special needs, began under the auspices of Professor Arlyn
The Art Institute of Boston (AIB) received NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design) accreditation.
1984 - Lesley College launched its National Outreach
Program in Denver, Colorado with a Counseling Psychology Certificate,
which initiated the first off-campus program to be delivered outside New
Lesley College celebrated its 75th anniversary.
Lesley College statistics:
Buildings = 40
Value of Real Estate = $13,070,271
Market Value = $20,000,000
Endowment = $1,265,54 / $254,473 (Scholarships)
Enrollments = 475 Undergraduate School
1,259 Graduate School on-campus
1,675 Graduate School off-campus
Employees = 476
1985 - Margaret A. McKenna was inaugurated as Lesley College's President.
1986 - The Intercultural Relations Program, the
first of its kind, was established with a focus on the interpersonal
aspects of communication and understanding across cultures.
A third major, management, was added to the undergraduate program.1987 - The Ph.D. program was approved by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
The Center for Mathematics, Science and Technology in Education was established.
Affirmative Action policy was approved by Lesley's Board of Trustees.
Lesley College Off-Campus Programs were located in Colorado,
Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nebraska, Wisconsin,
Lesley College International Sites included
Brazil, Greece, Israel, Mexico, Sweden, Switzerland, and West Germany.
1988 - The Art Institute of Boston granted its first class of BFA degrees.
The 90s: The Art Institute of Boston Merges with Lesley
1990 - The first Ph.D. students in education were admitted.
80th Anniversary of Lesley College was celebrated.
1991 - The Reading Recovery Center opened at Lesley College as the New England regional site for teacher training.
"Say Yes to Education," a Lesley College administered free college education program began.
1992 - The library was renovated and dedicated as the Eleanor DeWolfe Ludcke Library.
Lesley College awarded its first Ph.D. in Education.
1993 - Reggio Emilia Inspired Institute was founded.
Lesley College hosted "Making Schools Safe for gay and lesbian youth" conference.
1994 - Porter Exchange, the former Sears building, was purchased by Lesley College.
The Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences (GSASS) was created.
1995 - Lesley College became a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division III.
1996 - The Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism and Practice, a Lesley faculty juried online journal, debuted.
The first on-line courses were offered.
1997 - Center for Special Education was created.
First on-line degree program, the 11-course Technology in Education master's, began.
1998 - The Art Institute of Boston (AIB) became Lesley's sixth school.
1999 - The Institute for Mind, Body and Spirituality
was established to promote inquiry, train professionals, conduct
research, develop new programs, and provide leadership in the area of
mind-body health and education.
Lesley College received award from Victorian Society of America for preserving the Victorian character in Cambridge.
The New Century: Becoming a University
2000 - Lesley College became Lesley University and the Women's College was renamed Lesley College.
A Ph.D. in Expressive Therapies was introduced.
2001 - U.S. News and World Report ranked Lesley University as one of the "best regional Universities."
Oregon became the 17th state to join Lesley University's national program.
2002- The Radcliffe Seminars in Creative Arts were taken over by Lesley University.
M.F.A. in Creative Writing Program began.
2003- The School of Management formerly called Programs in Management for Business and Industry (PMBI) closed.
Princeton Review selected Lesley University as among "The Best Northeastern Colleges."
2004 - Lesley College became co-ed, admitting men in the undergraduate school for the first time in its history.
Lesley University launched its first comprehensive brand marketing campaign, "Let's Wake Up the World."
The Art Institute of Boston established a B.F. A. in Animation.
2005 - Lesley University launched its third Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership.
The first male undergraduate students began classes.
2006 - The Ph.D. in Expressive Therapies program graduated its first students.
2007 - The School of Education moved to its new location in University Hall, the former Porter Exchange building.
Joseph B. Moore was appointed as Lesley University's new President after Margaret McKenna stepped down from her 22-year tenure.
2009 - On September 17, 2009, Lesley University
celebrated its centennial convocation at Harvard University's Sander's
Theater with Marian Wright Edelman as the keynote speaker.
The Art Institute of Boston, Course Catalog - circa late 1960s, published by the Art Institute of Boston, Boston, Mass.
Baig, Barbara. Lesley College Graduate School: The First Thirty Years, In Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Lesley College. Cambridge, Mass.: Lesley College, 1984.The Current, March-April 1973, published by Lesley College's Office of Public Relations, Cambridge, Mass.The Current, Winter 1984/Spring 1985, v. 11, n. 2, published by Lesley College's Office of Institutional Relations, Cambridge, Mass.Lesley Alumnae Review, Winter 1968, v. 6, n. 2, published by Lesley College, Cambridge, Mass.
The Lesley Camp brochure, ca. 1921, published by Edith Lesley Wolfard, Cambridge, Mass.
Lesley Normal School, Academic Catalog, 1913-1914, published by Edith Lesley Wolfard
Lesley School, Academic Catalog, 1922-1923, published by the Lesley School, Cambridge, Mass.
Lesley School, Academic Catalog, 1926-1927, published by the Lesley School, Cambridge, Mass.
Lesley School, Academic Catalog, 1927-1928, published by the Lesley School, Cambridge, Mass.
Lesley School, Academic Catalog, 1929-1930, published by the Lesley School, Cambridge, Mass.
Lesley School, Academic Catalog, 1931-1932, published by the Lesley School, Cambridge, Mass.
Lesley School, Academic Catalog, 1933-1934, published by the Lesley School, Cambridge, Mass.
Lesley School, Academic Catalog, 1937-1938, published by the Lesley School, Cambridge, Mass.
Lesley School, Academic Catalog, 1939-1940, published by the Lesley School, Cambridge, Mass.
Lesley College, Academic Catalog, 1944-1945, published by Lesley College, Cambridge, Mass.
Lesley College, Academic Catalog, 1947-1948, published by Lesley College, Cambridge, Mass.
Lesley College, Academic Catalog, 1948-1919, published by Lesley College, Cambridge, Mass.
The School of Practical Art, Course Catalog
Waring, Nancy. A Brief History of the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences. Cambridge, Mass.: Lesley College Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, June 2004.
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