Many Names, Many Students, 125 Years

By Nicole O’Connell Contributing Writer 

2020 is a momentous year for the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth because it marks the 125th anniversary of the school.  

125 years holds a lot of history, and UMass Dartmouth is prepared to celebrate. 

Shannon Finning, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, is excited for this anniversary.  

“This celebration affords UMass Dartmouth the opportunity to document the transformational impact the University – its students, alumni, faculty and staff – have had on our region, the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world,” she says. In doing so, we will bring together members of our community, past, present, and future, to celebrate what makes UMass Dartmouth distinct and look to our promising future.” 

Because of the anniversary, now is the perfect time to learn a little UMass Dartmouth history. 

While the university can trace its roots back to 1895, UMass Dartmouth has not always been UMass Dartmouth. 

The incorporation of New Bedford Textile School in 1895 is when UMass Dartmouth pinpoints its inception. The textile school eventually became the New Bedford Institute of Technology, where, in 1959, tuition was just $200!  

Meanwhile, Bradford Durfee Textile School was incorporated in nearby Fall River in 1899. This textile school changed its name to Bradford Durfee College of Technology. 

In 1960, these two institutions agreed to merge, forming Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute (SMTI)The location for this new school landed in Dartmouth. 

In 1969, only four years after the formal merger New Bedford Institute of Technology and Bradford Durfee College of Technology was complete, STMI became Southeastern Massachusetts University (SMU). 

Another merger occurred in in 1988, when Swain School of Design, a New Bedford institution, merged with SMU.  

The name for our school we are most familiar with finally arrived in 1991 when SMU became the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. 

Since becoming UMass Dartmouth, the Center for Marine Science and Technology, the Center for Marketing Research, the Star Store, and the School of Law have been established. 

A more detailed history can be found on along with a timeline and 125 interesting facts about the school. The campus archives also hold a great wealth of information about the past days of our institution. Archivist Judy Farrar helped contribute to the online timeline and list of facts. 


Considering these fascinating tidbits of information, you have probably heard that Paul Rudolph designed this campus in the brutalist style, but did you know he designed the inner campus to keep “dehumanizing” automobiles separated from the pedestrians? 

This publication, The Torch, even gets included in the facts. In 1965, the Willis-Harrington Report proposed to limit the school to technical majors, thus eliminating arts and humanities. In opposition to the report, students held a torch relay from campus to the Massachusetts State House in Boston. After this impressive run, the “SMTI Torch” debuted as the student newspaper 

Another “torch” run to the state house occurred in 1982 stirred by efforts to “Save SMU” from a reduction in state funding. Professor Richard Hogan ran the whole 62 miles! 

And speaking of student newspapers, after Bradford Durfee College of Technology and New Bedford Institute of Technology merged, a student newspaper called “Hexagon” was published. However, this publication only lasted one issue. 

Take some time to learn about the place you are learning, and perhaps living, in. Impress your friends by knowing about the Eisteddfod folk festival held yearly from 1972 to 1996. Break the ice with a new teammate by sharing that the school adopted the Corsair as a symbol in 1967 while Arnie the mascot only came about in 2010. Wonder with your roommates about the “The Great Tricycle Race” in 1970. 

Keep your eyes peeled for information on upcoming anniversary events to celebrate accomplishments of UMass Dartmouth. 

Finning encourages students to get involved in these festivities. 

“I believe students should not only take note of the 125th anniversary but also participate in the celebrations!” she says. “Celebrations will afford current students rich opportunities to connect and network with influential alumni and thought leaders and to help chart the course for the future of UMass Dartmouth. The benefits to the individual and the collective are immeasurable. The sky is the limit!” 


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