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Academia's Golden AgeUniversities in Massachusetts, 1945-1970$
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Richard M. Freeland

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195054644

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195054644.001.0001

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From State College to University System: The University of Massachusetts,1943-1973

From State College to University System: The University of Massachusetts,1943-1973

(p.298) Chapter Six From State College to University System: The University of Massachusetts,1943-1973
Academia's Golden Age

Richard M. Freeland

Oxford University Press

The conditions of the golden age liberated Massachusetts State College from the forces that had restricted its development since the nineteenth century. In spurts of growth linked to demographic and political cycles, M.S.C. mushroomed from a limited-purpose college into a comprehensive university and from a single campus in Amherst into a multicampus system, with units in Worcester and Boston and a statewide president’s office. By the end of the period, UMass seemed finally to have joined its counterparts in western states as a full-fledged public university in the land grant tradition, with strong programs of graduate education and research built on a large undergraduate base and linked to public service activities of applied research and nondegree instruction. The evolutionary process remained incomplete, however, and Massachusetts was still Massachusetts. The state’s nonelite private institutions watched the public expansion nervously and organized to protect their interests. Other components of the public system, including the state colleges and a new network of community colleges, vied for support from an intensely politicized government still unsure of its role in higher education. Though the effort during the 1930s to transform Massachusetts State College into a full public university had ended in failure when the General Court shelved the enabling legislation, the university movement had gained important ground. In particular, by the end of the prewar decade, the loose coalition of students, alumni/ae, and organized labor that had kept the movement alive had stirred public interest and won support from the college’s trustees as well as its president, Hugh Potter Baker. Baker himself, with his roots in the scientific-technical traditions of land grant education, had been slow to endorse a broadened conception of his institution but once converted had become an eloquent and persistent advocate. Believing, despite his disappointment over the legislature’s inaction, that World War II would foster increased interest in higher education and create new opportunities for M.S.C., Baker used his annual reports during the war to reiterate the central arguments of the university movement: that, in comparison with other states, Massachusetts was not providing adequate support for public higher education; that demand for places at the college far exceeded enrollment capacity; that the region’s private institutions were not prepared to respond to the need; and that large numbers of Massachusetts residents were being forced to attend public universities in other states.

Keywords:   Boston Globe, Boston University: academic personnel policies, Catholics and higher education, City College of New York, Enrollments: Massachusetts patterns, Faculty: academic labor market trends, Georgetown University, Hampshire College, Massachusetts Review

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