Making room for Boston State College

Michael Hogan

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Many of us here at the UMass Boston have never heard of Boston State College, most of us know nothing of the existence of another public university here in the city.

This is likely because many of us weren’t around in 1982 when the two schools were merged into one cohesive university.

Located at 625 Huntington Avenue, now the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston State College served as the place for high education for residents from much of the western half of the city.

In 1982 the decision was made for UMass Boston to absorb Boston State College and leave the city with one public institution of high education.

At the time there was a lot of animosity on the part of Boston State College students, faculty, staff and alumni as they felt their beloved college was being taken away from them.

Over the years much of the bitterness has subsided and recognition of the contributions of Boston State College has grown. Due to the efforts of a dedicated group of alumni the history and traditions of Boston State have begun to gain more acknowledgment.

On Thursday December 6, 2007 the Boston State College Room on the 2nd floor of the Campus Center was officially dedicated in a ceremony attended by BSC alumni and members of the UMass Boston community.

UMass Boston Earth Science professor Jack Looney, himself a Boston State College alum, called the event a time to “recognize what UMass Boston has done since the merger.”

25 years after the merger between the two universities took place, 2007 has been a year of recognition for those who consider themselves members of the Boston State College community.

In January and in April of 2007 BSC was recognized and honored in separate events here at UMB. This dedication of the Boston State College Room is only the latest in a string of events meant to honor the long tradition of public higher education in Boston.

Among the notable BSC alumni in attendance was WBZ radio personality Dan Rea, whose quote beneath one of the memorabilia collages that line the walls of the BSC room sums up the connection between BSC and UMB as good as any other.

“Having gone to Boston State as a first generation college student, I feel a sense of connection with students like those at UMass Boston who are also the first in their families to attend college,” Rea wrote.

Professor John E. Moon, the BSC Teacher’s Union President at the time of the merger with UMB, called the night a “memory feast,” a time for those who shared a “common experience” and who “fought together” to remember those times fondly with one another.

“The Boston State College Room is the first space – that’s right, the very first space – in the Campus Center to showcase the university’s history,” UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley said in his address to those in attendance.

Calling the night a “tribute to the ‘green and gold’,” Motley described the room itself as “more than 80 photos and items of memorabilia that bring to life the spirit of Boston State College.”

The room, next door to the Alumni Lounge, is meant to be used for meetings, seminars, trainings, conferences, and study sessions.

Motley said, “most often it is our students who gather there.” He added “I am especially proud to know that they will be the ones who will have ample opportunities to learn about the great history of the institution they attend.”

During his speech Motley told the story of one prominent piece of memorabilia in the newly dedicated room.

“It is a piece of Boston State College property that I’m told has been missing since after a college concert in the late 1960’s. Magically, nearly four decades later, it has resurfaced intact- and none too worse for wear!”

Motley added, with a hint of sarcasm, that he didn’t know the name of the donor. He stated that he was taking a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on the theft and recovery of the piece and any future artefacts that may turn up.

The piece of memorabilia turned out to be a school banner in the green and gold of BSC, that is now displayed significantly in the back of the room with a quote from Professor John E. Moon below it.

The quote reads, “Boston State College may be gone, but the pursuit of the dream to which is contributed so much, remains alive.”

The room itself is lined with 5 separate collections of photographs and memorabilia from the glory days of BSC. Each compilation highlights a different aspect of life the school.

There is one on campus sports, one of academia, one on the physical buildings themselves, and even one on the turbulent world of the 1970’s college student in Boston.

While the dedication of the room does not bring Boston State College back from the ashes of the past, the words of Class of ’78 Nursing student Lorna Andrade sum up the thoughts of all in attendance.

“I am so happy we have a physical space again.”

Boston State College Steering CommitteeMary R. Barrett ’57, ’61, StaffArthur J. Bowes ’69Gerard F. Burke ’59, FacultyTheresa M. Corcoran ’51, FacultySusan Davis ’83, StaffCarol DeSouza, StaffThomas G. Feenan ’66, ’69Margaret M. Fitzpatrick ’73Maura J. Griffin ’81Mary Hamilton ’71James F. Kelleher ’78Sally Moynihan Kelly ’69Winston Langley, FacultyJeanette Lee ’76Penelope Broderick Lodge ’70John F. Looney ’60, FacultyJoan Moon, FacultyJames V. Morris, StaffTheresa Mortimer, FacultyRaymond S. Murano ’76, ’78Linda O’Brien ’80The Honorable Anne M. Paulsen ’61Jean Phelan ’53, FacultyGladreca Quarles, StaffMartin Quitt, FacultyDaniel Rea ’70Robert P. Reardon ’69Thomas P. Reardon ’68Carole Remick, FacultyMichael Taylor, ’73Luz M. Valverde ’82, ’04Edward Zaleskas ’53, Faculty