Nicholas Tillinghast (1804-1856) was the first principal of the State Normal School at Bridgewater, serving from the school’s opening in September 1840 until failing health compelled his resignation in July 1853. His term saw the successful transition from the experimental status of the state normal schools in Massachusetts to their status as permanent State institutions. This was exemplified by the dedication in 1846 of the first State Normal School Building in America. The school, under Tillinghast, was based upon the “fine art of teaching,” not the “lecture-examination” or “recitation-examination” model common at the time.
Marshall Conant (1801-1873) had achieved success as a teacher, scientist and architect before succeeding Tillinghast in 1853. Under his leadership, the curriculum expanded to include new science courses and the course of study was lengthened to one and one-half years. Conant resigned the principalship in 1860 and later served as Assistant to George Boutwell, Director of the Internal Revenue Service in Washington, D.C.
Albert Gardner Boyden (1827-1915) was a member of the 26th class of the State Normal School at Bridgewater. After serving as an assistant to both Nicholas Tillinghast and Marshall Conant, A.G. Boyden was appointed principal in August of 1860. For the next forty-six years A.G. Boyden strove to assure the school’s reputation for academic excellence and the quality preparation of teachers for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During his tenure the enrollment more than quadrupled and his far-sighted building program resulted in the construction of five major buildings. After resigning as principal in 1906, Boyden actively continued his association with the school, serving as principal emeritus and teaching classes until his death in 1915.
Arthur Clarke Boyden (1852-1933) succeeded his father as Principal of Bridgewater State Normal School in 1906. When the school was renamed Bridgewater State Teachers College in 1932, Boyden officially became the school’s first president. An 1871 graduate of the Normal School, A.C. Boyden taught briefly in Boston before returning to Bridgewater as a teacher, becoming assistant principal in 1896. After the December 1924 fire, which destroyed a number of school buildings, A.C. Boyden led the campaign to rebuild the campus. Boyden’s death in 1933 ended the connection between the Boydens and Bridgewater that had lasted for over seventy years.
Zenos E. Scott (1877-1965) became the second president of the Bridgewater State Teachers College after the death of A.C. Boyden in 1933. Scott had received his academic and professional training in large, progressive, and influential institutions, and his first ambition was to maintain and win respect for the “college” status of the school. Scott resigned in 1937 to become superintendent of schools at Louisville, Kentucky.
John J. Kelly (1883-1951), a faculty member since 1918, followed Scott as president in 1937 and served until his death in 1951. During the Kelly administration the general education program of the college was strengthened, making the first two years almost exclusively liberal arts. The full-time graduate program, continuing studies program and the summer school program were all instituted during Kelly’s term.
Dr. Clement C. Maxwell (1898-1969), the former chairman of the English Department and Dean of the graduate school was appointed temporary president upon Kelly’s death. He was formally appointed president the following year. During his years as president, Maxwell oversaw campus expansion: the student body doubled in size during his tenure, the number of faculty members tripled, two new dormitories and a gymnasium were constructed. More importantly, Maxwell was pivotal in the planning and development for the Bachelor of Arts degree program.
Adrian Rondileau (1912-2002) came to the presidency of BSC after spending a decade as president of Yankton College in South Dakota. Rondileau advanced a philosophy of “college as community” and focused much of his attention on “town-gown” relations, hoping to ease the burden of the college’s expansion into the Bridgewater community. Undergraduate enrollment quadrupled during his presidency and the number of undergraduate majors almost doubled in number. Rondileau was credited with maintaining order over the campus during the anti-war protests of the late ‘60s by encouraging communication through organized forums and community meetings. He retired in 1986, but returned for another year after the resignation of Gerald Indelicato.
Dr. Gerard T. Indelicato returned to his alma mater to assume the presidency of Bridgewater State College in 1986. His tenure was cut short by criminal proceedings arising from his previous position as Special Assistant for Education Affairs in the administration of then-Governor Michael Dukakis and from criminal charges arising from his actions during his presidency of the college.
Dr. Adrian Tinsley, like her predecessors, oversaw tremendous growth at BSC during her tenure as president. Three new schools were created: the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education and Allied Studies, and the School of Management and Aviation Science. Tinsley launched an endowment campaign that increased the college endowment from less than one-half million to over ten million dollars. Most importantly, she led the college into the age of technology. In 1991 BSC was awarded a ten million dollar grant – at that time the largest amount ever awarded to any state college in the U.S. – to build what became the John Joseph Moakley Center for Technological Applications.
Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria assumed the challenges of the presidency of Bridgewater State in 2002, after having served for eleven years as the college’s vice president for administration and finance. Mohler-Faria’s accomplishments to date include expanding the number of full-time, tenure-track faculty; founding Connect, a Southeastern Massachusetts partnership dedicated to advancing the regional mission of public higher education; presiding over an extensive review of the undergraduate curriculum; modernizing the college’s general education requirements; initiating an institution-wide assessment of diversity opportunities and programming; establishing the Presidential Fellowship program to promote faculty scholarly and creative work; and overseeing the conversion of the college to Bridgewater State University.
Images in this exhibit are held by the Clement C. Maxwell Library Special Collections and Archives. Reproduction in whole or part in any form or medium of the content of this exhibit without the express written permission of the Clement C. Maxwell Library is prohibited.