Date of Completion


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Linda Eisenmann


On June 18, 1964, Governor Endicott Peabody signed the bill to create the University of Massachusetts at Boston. Just fifteen months later, in the fall of 1965, the University of Massachusetts Boston opened its doors for its first class of students. Joining the more than 1200 students were 75 faculty and 10 staff people. They were pioneers in creating an institution which held enormous hope and promise of serving its urban community at a time of major change in higher education, specifically and in society, generally.

Today, the University of Massachusetts Boston is one of five campuses that make up the University of Massachusetts system. Located on 175 acres set on Columbia Point in the Dorchester section of Boston, the campus is adjacent to the Massachusetts Archives and John F. Kennedy Library. The current student enrollment is over 13,000 and the institution offers over 100 undergraduate programs, nearly 61 graduate programs and 14 doctoral programs.

In this paper, I will explore the impetus for the founding of UMass Boston within the context of the changing higher education landscape, both nationally and locally. This paper focuses heavily on the origins and planning of UMass Boston. To a lesser extent, this study also comments on the competing visions of UMass Boston‘s urban mission, which emerged in the first five years of the institution‘s history. While I make some speculations and interpretations in this area, further research is strongly recommended for this rich and complex subject. Also, it should be noted that this paper should not be construed as a total and comprehensive history of UMass Boston. For example, this paper does not discuss the permanent site selection process for the institution as that has been previously documented (see Whittaker dissertation, 1990). In fact, each section of this paper could perhaps become a further research topic. Others have previously written about aspects of UMass Boston‘s history and this paper should be considered one more contribution to understanding the institution‘s early growth and development.



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