Dean College has nearly a century and a half of helping students succeed. Dean began as an Academy founded in 1865. An enthusiastic advocate of the project was Dr. Oliver Dean, a native of South Franklin, who offered approximately nine acres of land in Franklin as the site of the school and $125,000 toward its construction. Upon being incorporated and charter approved by the Massachusetts Legislature, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for Dean Hall in 1866. Classes began on October 1 in the vestry of the Universalist Church with 44 students attending—14 boys and 30 girls.
Timothy G. Senter began a term (1866 - 1871) as first Principal. The cornerstone was laid on May 16, 1867. Dean Hall was completed in 1868 and the first Commencement was held with 13 graduates. The Rev. J.R. Weston served as appointed Principal from 1872 - 1878.
The Academy offered men and women a well-rounded program of academics, athletics, and student activities. In addition, the Academy provided students a personal atmosphere that identified and cultivated the strengths of its students, preparing them for admission to college. An excellent reputation soon resulted, and the standards set during the early years have formed a strong tradition followed by Dean today.
Dean Hall was scarcely four years old when it suffered a devastating loss. During the summer of 1872, the building was totally destroyed by fire. The founders began rebuilding immediately and dedicated a new Dean Hall on June 7, 1874. During 1878 - 1880, the Academy became “a young ladies” institution for two years with Miss H. M. Parkhurst as Acting Principal.
Lester L. Burrington became principal in 1879 and helped to stabilize curriculum and faculty. Soon, Dean won recognition as a school affording a sound education within the reach of families of moderate means, and its reputation spread to distant states. Mr. Burrington was elected to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1896 and resigned as principal at the end of the winter term.
The “Peirce Era,” one of the most significant in Dean’s history, began in 1897 with the appointment of Arthur W. Peirce as principal. “Awpie,” as his initials caused him to be nicknamed, was a kindly generous man, who was unable to believe ill of any boy or girl. His faith in young people rendered such a respect and loyalty for him that any transgression by any student was regarded disapprovingly as a personal affront to “Awpie.” To this day, alumni are eager to recite their fond memories of him.
Several Franklin residents were leadership supporters of Dean. In October of 1901, ground was broken for a science building, the gift of two affluent Franklin alumnae, Miss Lydia P. Ray (1872) and her sister Miss Annie Ray (1874), daughters of then-trustee Joseph G. Ray. Miss Lydia subsequently married “Awpie,” and Miss Annie married Adelbert D. Thayer of Franklin.
Dean Academy grew in many ways during Mr. Peirce’s administration. Students attracted by its prestige came from nearly all the states and several foreign countries. Enrollment increased until 1931 when the graduating class numbered 146, the largest in the history of the Academy.
The school’s athletic director and coach Daniel E. Sullivan ’05, came to Dean in 1910 and, for 27 years, led Dean athletic teams in a long succession of victories over both academy schools and colleges. Dean played the freshman teams of Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Annapolis, as well as many preparatory school teams. Indeed, a season with Dan Sullivan could equip a boy for some of the hardest knocks that adult life could offer.
The beloved “Awpie” died suddenly of a heart attack on December 20, 1934. To succeed him, the trustees appointed Earle Sessions Wallace ’05, who came to Dean with progressive ideas and an enthusiasm for a “junior college” institution. This concept was not accepted readily in New England, because it constituted a drastic change from the conventions of the four-year college. Mr. Wallace persisted in his ideals, and almost single-handed, obtained a charter from the Massachusetts Legislature in May 1941, authorizing the establishment of Dean Junior College.
In 1945, the first associate degrees were awarded and President Wallace resigned due to ill health. William Chadwick Garner was appointed President and Headmaster and faced numerous challenges. The coeducational Academy, in existence since 1865, providing preparation for a four-year college or university, was fully accredited. The Junior College, all women at that time, serving fundamentally as terminal preparation in vocational training, was not accredited.
After careful study, President Garner recommended that the Academy be discontinued and that the emphasis be placed on the junior college program. In June 1957, the last class of Dean Academy, all boys, was graduated. Dean Junior College opened in September of that year to capacity enrollment of men and women students with the mission of preparing students for transfer to four-year colleges. During the same year, Dean was accredited by the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
During the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, a comprehensive building program was completed resulting in the addition of Pieri Gymnasium, Peirce Science Center, the E. Ross Anderson Library, the Garner Student Center, and three residence halls. In addition, the College acquired several Franklin properties that were converted into faculty and staff housing, residence halls, classrooms, and office space.
Following the retirement of President Garner, Donald E. Deyo served as president from 1968-71. In 1972, Richard E. Crockford took over leadership of the College and served for 19 years. During his tenure, many new transfer and career-oriented associate degree programs were developed and several new facilities opened. These included the Children’s Center, a laboratory pre-school; the Academic Computer Center; WGAO, the College radio station; and the Telecommunications Center, featuring video broadcast and editing studios. In addition, enrollment in the Division of Continuing Education grew to over 1,200 part time students. Mr. Crockford retired and Dr. Frank B. Bruno was appointed President and served 1991-92. John A. Dunn, Jr. was appointed President and served from 1992-95.
Dean officially changed its name on February 9, 1994, to Dean College and the team mascot was changed from Red Demons to Bulldogs.
Paula M. Rooney was appointed President in July 1995. Under Dr. Rooney’s leadership, the growth of technology on campus accelerated. In 1997, the commuter station near the campus was named the Dean College/Franklin Station and a unique partnership was created with world-renowned Putnam Investments. The Putnam/Dean Pathway work-and-learn program provides students an opportunity to earn income and gain valuable experience in the rapidly growing mutual fund industry. New curriculum, Internet access, campus renovations and becoming a host site for the Intensive English Institute (1999) enhance all Dean College offers.
A new era began at Dean in fall 2000. Dean offered its first four-year degree, a B.A. in Dance. Additionally, Suffolk University and Dean entered into a collaboration to offer several bachelors degrees at Dean. In January 2001 Dean College began offering Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer computer courses through a partnership with Pinnacle Training Corporation. Beginning in 2007, Dean offered its second four-year degree in Arts and Entertainment Management.
In May, 2010, Dean College received approval from the Board of Higher Education to offer three new baccalaureate degree programs in Business, Liberal Arts and Studies and Theatre. In September of 2010, Dean opened its new 28,000 square foot performance venue and dining center.
Dean is an accredited private co-educational college offering both full- (day) and part-time (School of Professional and Continuing Studies) programs. The college awards Associate in Arts or Associate in Science in 15 different majors and Baccalaureate degrees in Arts and Entertainment Management, Business, Dance, Liberal Arts and Studies and Theatre. Dean offers intercollegiate athletics and provides a full student activities program.
Dean emphasizes individual attention and prepares students for further studies or employment upon graduation. Dean’s beautiful 100-acre campus is located only 30 miles from Boston, Massachusetts and Providence, RI, and is accessible to Boston by commuter rail. The Dean College/Franklin station is only a five-minute walk from campus.
Today, Dean serves more than a thousand full time students and 500 part time students, for a Full Time Equivalent enrollment of 1,248 students, and more than 14,000 alumni. The College’s future is based soundly upon its 145-year history of developing programs that meet the changing individual needs of students.