Timeline of events

in the History of UMass Amherst



  • Wilder elected first President of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture.


  • On July 2, Abraham Lincoln signs the Morrill Land-Grant Act which allows states to use revenues from sale of public lands to establish colleges “for the agricultural and industrial classes“


  • Governor John A. Andrew signs charter of Massachusetts Agricultural College on April 29; the trustees of MAC are created. MIT is designated as the Commonwealth's “mechanical” land grant college.


  • Town of Amherst holds special town meeting and votes to raise $50,000 by taxation and $25,000 by subscription. The Trustees vote to locate the college in Amherst; campus 310 acres and existing buildings, $34,999.50.
  • First president, Henry Flagg French, elected by the Board of Trustees on November 29; serves till September 29, 1866.


  • Construction on new buildings begins in the Spring.



  • October 2, four buildings receive first class of 56 students and faculty of four with William Smith Clark as first seated president; serving from August 7, 1867 till May 1, 1874.
  • Tuition is $36.00.
  • Old South College built; burns down in 1885.
  • First college to provide a glass plant house of commercial quality, $12,000.


  • Twenty-four scholarships provided by agricultural societies.


  • Faculty increases to 10.
  • Major Henry E. Alvord, an officer in the U.S. Army, assigned to Campus by the War Department. The first officer ever detailed to give instruction in an agricultural college.
  • First yearbook, The Index.
  • Washington Irving Literary Society established.


  • Tuition rises to $54.
  • An orchestra.
  • “The M.A.C. Weekly” column appears in The Amherst Record (1870-1872).
  • Edward Everett Literary Society (1870-1876).


  • Twenty-seven students receive B.S. degrees at first commencement.
  • Trustees empowered to fill their won vacancies.
  • On July 21st M.A.C. defeated Brown and Harvard at the Intercollegiate regatta at Springfield.
  • Social Union (society & library).
  • The Senior Register (1871-1976).


  • Enrollment at 171 students.


  • Tuition rises to $75.


  • Congressional investigation of land grant colleges.
  • Associate Alumni.
  • Southwick’s glee club sings in Barre.


  • Louise Mellicent Thurston is first female to study at MAC.
  • College drops the professorship of veterinary science as an economy move.


  • William S. Clark invited by the Imperial Government of Japan to assist in the establishment of an agricultural college and experimental farm in the province of Hokkaido.
  • Levi Stockbridge, acting president.


  • President Clark returns from founding Sapporo Agricultural College in Japan.
  • Each Massachusetts Congressman distributes a free-tuition scholarship for four years; and in addition each of the one hundred and fifty alumni of the college is given the same privilege.


  • Experiment Station established.


  • College Shakespearean Club established.
  • Charles L. Flint appointed President and leads the college till March 24, 1880.
  • Tuition falls to $36.
  • The D.G.K. Cycle, an annual (1879-1907).



  • President Levi Stockbridge succeeds in bringing together the Governor and Council, the Board of Agriculture and the College Board of Trustees to consider the issue of aid to students.


  • Legislature makes its first appropriation for an experiment station (State Station, 1882-95).
  • Paul Chadbourne appointed president for the second time, serves January 1, 1882-February 23, 1883.
  • Funds made available for new construction and scholarships; curriculum now includes liberal arts (1882-1884).


  • Granted 80 scholarships for each of 4 years.
  • Henry Hill Goodell serves four months as acting president.
  • Greenough elected president and serves from July 6, 1883 till June 21, 1886.
  • Plant house burns.
  • Drill Hall constructed.


  • Tuition climbs to $80.
  • Class prayer meeting instituted by class of 1887.
  • Stone Chapel and Library Building (Old Chapel) built for $31,000 (1884-1886).




  • College leases 50 acres to Experiment Station.
  • First college to offer a formal course of study in Forestry.


  • Experiment Station established; called Hatch Experiment Station, 1888-1906.
  • Out of 278 living graduates, 123 are in agricultural pursuits.


  • The first bulletin on Household Insects and their control, ever issued, published here.


  • Entrance standards raised from 50% to 65%.
  • The 2nd Morrill Act: $20,000 annually for M.A.C.
  • Aggie Life, a fortnightly newspaper, appears.



  • First woman undergraduate, Florence May Vallentine, enrolls at MAC
  • Campus pond created.
  • Electric lights installed in Drill Hall.
  • Weekly band concerts in campus bandstand.
  • President Goodell introduces a two-year, non-degree course in practical agriculture.


  • The College grants 21 bachelor's degrees.


  • Ridge Barn burns.


  • Winter Short Courses started.
  • Hatch & State Experiment Stations consolidated.


  • First class at M.A.C. to wear cap and gown at commencement.
  • First two master’s degrees awarded.


  • Running water in North College.


  • Class (1899) honor system.
  • Interfraternity conference.


  • There are now 20,000 books in library.
  • Admission by certificate.
  • Free tuition for U.S. citizens.


  • Grant: $8,000 to cover depreciation in stocks.

—- 1901

  • State dairy law.
  • A recorded pond party.
  • Terms replaced by semesters.
  • Aggie Life (1890-1901) becomes College Signal (1901-14).
  • Legislative grant of $400 for Band.
  • Alla Frances Young enrolls in the Short Winter Course, becomes the first woman to complete her program at MAC.
  • Esther Cowles Cushman of Northampton and Monica Lillian Sanborn of Salem enter MAC with the class of 1905 and become the first women to graduate with BS degrees.
  • MAC's first woman graduate student, Elizabeth Hight Smith, enrolls.


  • First Ph.D degree awarded to Warren E. Hinds (Entomology).
  • Varsity basketball introduced
  • Charles H. Fernald relinquishes $1,500 of his salary to permit a new position in his department.


  • Draper Hall erected as a dormitory for women and a dining facility (1903-1905).
  • Change in curriculum requirements-the elective feature was introduced into the program for Junior year.
  • Majors first introduced for students: Agriculture, Horticulture, Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Landscape Gardening.


  • Grand Prix for exhibit at St. Louis Fair.
  • Phi Kappa Phi.
  • Matthew Washington Bullock, a graduate of Dartmouth, is hired as football coach, becoming the first African American to coach at a predominantly white college. Bullock also coached in 1907-1908.



  • Kenyon L. Butterfield starts a long stay as president, beginning January 2, 1906 and continuing till August 31, 1924.
  • Dairy building burns.
  • Station becomes “Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station”.
  • A rope-pull across the pond.
  • Cranberry Substation established in Wareham.
  • Asparagus Substation established in Concord.


  • Clark Hall constructed for science teaching and research, particularly Botany.
  • M.A.C. first college to organize a separate Department of Pomology.
  • Dairy Barn rebuilt at a cost of $41,000.
  • Summer School.
  • Divisions of Humanities, Horticulture, & Agriculture established.
  • Department of Agricultural Education.
  • French Hall erected for instruction particularly in Floriculture, and Market Gardening (1907-1908).


  • Graduate School established as a separate unit.
  • Rifle Range purchased, 20 acres for $500.
  • First college to organize a separate Department of Floriculture.
  • First college to organize a separate Department of Landscape Gardening.


  • The College Signal becomes weekly.
  • Entrance requirements raised to prevailing collegiate standards.
  • Dickinson stage-manages The Toastmaster, first dramatic production.
  • Fernald Hall originally built (1909-1910) for Zoology and Entomology; named after Professor Henry T. Fernald.
  • Theta Nu Epsilon (1909-1913).
  • Kappa Gamma Phi (1909-1928).


  • First varsity debating team.
  • Alumni Field, $5,868.
  • Farming Special (trolley).
  • Roister Doisters.
  • M.A.C. Literary Monthly.
  • Experiment Station at Wareham established.


  • Theta Chi.
  • Curry Hicks comes to campus as Assistant Professor of Physical Education and also as Health Officer.
  • Polish farmers’ day.


  • Edward M. Lewis acting president.
  • Library has 40,000 books.
  • Free tuition restricted to Massachusetts students.
  • Sigma Phi Epsilon.
  • Lambda Chi Alpha
  • Watts’ college songbook.


  • Trustee recognition of Athletic Board.
  • Scarlet Fever epidemic on campus, 25 cases, 4 of which are fatal.
  • Alpha Sigma Phi.
  • Hampden County Improvement League.
  • Zabriskie’s Roister Doisters in New Jersey.


  • The College Signal (1901-14) becomes The Massachusetts Collegian (1914-67).
  • Smith-Lever Act ($10,000 increasing to larger sums, for extension)
  • Adelphia.
  • President Sato (Sapporo Agricultural College, Japan) visits M.A.C.


  • Academics Board.
  • Two buildings ready for use as an Infirmary, $15,000.
  • M.A.C. has more federal entomologists than any other college.
  • Non-Athletic Activities Board formed.
  • The Squib (comic, 1915-1924).


  • Three term plan (by intention four).
  • Mt. Toby, 755 acres, $30,000.
  • Market Garden Sub-station at Lexington.
  • Worthley’s joint concert with Amherst College.


  • The discovery of the presence in this country of the Gypsy Moth and the European Corn-Borer first made by members of college staff.
  • Caswell’s Brief History of the Massachusetts Agricultural College published.
  • Library’s Bibliography of the College.
  • Thirty women attend campus for fall term.
  • F. K. Baker’s design for our seal.


  • Station building in Lexington.
  • Power Plant renovated, $54,500.
  • The Corps, established at M.A.C. on October 1, with 351 enrolled, has a short existence here. War ends on November 11th and The Corps disbands by December 21, 1918.
  • First award of medals for academics.


  • World Aggie Night.
  • Women’s Student Council.


  • College Honor System.
  • First award of gold medals for academics.
  • First women’s dormitory, Abigail Adams House, opens.


  • John Epps-anniversary play.
  • The Alumni erects Memorial Hall, a center for student activities, with offices for the Alumni Association for a cost of $117,500.
  • Alumni committee investigates College.
  • In the fall 194 disabled veterans enroll.
  • Joint concert with Mount Holyoke College.


  • Old Chemistry building burns.
  • Goessmann Chemical Laboratory constructed.
  • Inter-church student secretary.


  • Waltham land, 55 acres, $21,000 (gift).
  • Maroon Key.
  • U.S. Forestry Experiment Station locates in French Hall (1923-1932)
  • College catalog mentions curriculum credit for campus activities.



  • Evelyn Davis Kennedy’s first coed glee club.
  • Joint concert with Smith College.
  • Cavalry Barn burns and is rebuilt.
  • College buys “Revelation,” second to grand champion at International Live Stock Exposition.
  • Purnell Act ($20,000, with increasing annuities, for economic research).


  • Edward M. Lewis becomes president on June 14, 1926 after serving two prior years as acting president. Serves as president until April 24, 1927.
  • First interfraternity sing.
  • Tuition $60 (Mass residents).
  • Wareham Substation burns & rebuilt, $9,000.
  • The Ynkhorne (1926-1928)


  • Dad’s Day.
  • Short Course for Greenskeepers, the first in the nation.
  • President Roscoe Thatcher inaugurated; serves from June 9, 1927 through April 8, 1932.


  • Capper-Ketcham Act ($20,000 for extension).
  • Outing Club.
  • The name “Stockbridge School of Agriculture”
  • Alumni Club awards first honorary medal to Griggs (Class of 1913).


  • Girls’ Glee Club has 35 voices and 10 concerts.
  • Volunteer group of students start the Agitation Committee, because they want a broader curriculum to permit the granting of an Arts degree.
  • Depression starts; larger student body, but no physical growth. budget is reduced.
  • Five year course in Landscape Architecture.
  • Seniors’ honor course given by Ray Ethan Torrey. Departmental honor work.


  • Horticultural Manufacturers Laboratory, $70,000.
  • Extension Service sends 163,000 bulletins to 37,000 people in response to requests.
  • Tercentenary Celebration exhibit in Boston & Springfield.


  • On March 26th Governor Ely signs a bill into law changing the official college name to Massachusetts State College.
  • Curry Hicks Physical Education Building constructed for $287,500.
  • Sigma Beta Chi, Lambda Delta Mu, and Alpha Lambda Mu.
  • Twelve performances of “The Americans Come.”


  • Hugh Potter Baker assumes presidency on May 20, 1932 and leads the college through difficult years until June 8, 1946.
  • Total volume of books in Library at 90,000.
  • Over 7,000 people at Horticultural Show.
  • Holstein herd wins U.S. Production Contest, with average of 16,059 lbs. milk & 564 lbs. butter fat.


  • Farley 4-H Clubhouse, $2,500.
  • Power Plant enlargement, $100,000.
  • Tuition at $100 for Massachusetts residents.
  • Hugh P. Baker formally inaugurated as 12th president, holds office for almost the entire period the institution is called Massachusetts State College (1933-1947).
  • Return to semesters.


  • Student committee formed to study improvement of teaching and modernize curriculum, but it is not very successful in making changes.
  • Gaie Whitton’s coed debating team beats Boston University and Middlebury College, loses to Columbia.


  • Snow’s band in new uniforms.
  • Goodell Library opens.


  • Dedication, October 23rd, of Women’s Athletic Field, formulated under the direction of Adeline (Mrs. Curry) Hicks.
  • Othello with alternating leads.


  • Debating trip to South Carolina.
  • Collegian Literary Supplement.
  • On May 1, Bernard Smith (Class of 1899) presents to the College a chime of bells in memory of his classmate Dr. Warren Elmer Hinds.


  • Massachusetts State College Building Association incorporated.


  • The trustees approve plans of the education department to consolidate its teacher-training program into one semester.


  • The first Campus Community Chest organized and raises funds for local and national organizations.
  • Male enrollment plummets during World War II (1941-1945). Facilities used for military training programs.


  • Degrees granted: bachelors: 273, masters: 37, & doctorate: 6.


  • Trainees of the 58th College Training Detachment (CTD) of the Army Air Force arrive on campus March 1st.
  • Fall enrollment drops to 738 from the previous year’s 1,410.
  • Congress provides for the rehabilitation of disabled veterans through higher education in an act approved March 24, 1943; and for aid to all who had been in their country’s service by a second law on June 22, 1944.


  • Total enrollment at 787.


  • Enrollment jumps to 1,002.


  • New construction starts as WW II veterans return.
  • Fort Devens (Ayer) branch of the college established to accommodate veterans; 2-year school.


  • On May 6th Governor Bradford signs bill making the college the University of Massachusetts.
  • Engineering School started.
  • Ralph Van Meter serves as acting President till 1948.


  • Berkshire House, Hampshire House, Middlesex House, and Mills House (New Africa House) constructed.
  • Skinner Hall built to house the School of Home Economics
  • On Jan.10th the newly erected Engineering Annex is destroyed by fire.
  • President Van Meter becomes 13th president of UMass; serves from April 29, 1948 till May 10, 1954.
  • School of Business administration founded.
  • WMUA student radio station begins broadcasting


  • Fort Devens, branch campus closes.


  • Dean William L. Machmer brings in a report favoring the establishment of a five- year nursing program at the University.


  • FM radio station established
  • Massachusetts Quarterly starts.



  • Buildings constructed: Crabtree House, Leach House, and Worcester Dining Hall.
  • In October Mary Maher appointed as Director of the Division of Nursing with the responsibility for developing the curriculum, selecting the field agencies and selecting a nursing faculty.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt addresses 89th opening convocation.
  • Omicron Nu Sorority initiated.
  • Senior Class gives $1500 for History Room in Goodell Library.


  • On May 5th [people:m:mather_jean_paul|[Jean Paul Mather]] starts as president and serves till March 21, 1960.


  • North College, built in 1867, razed to make room for Machmer Hall.


  • “Freedom Bill” improves salary incentives for faculty.
  • Student Union Building constructed (1956-1957).
  • Major construction program results in some 110 instructional and dormitory facilities, many self-liquidating (1956-1963).


  • Engineering Journal begins.


  • Lincoln Apartments and Wheeler House constructed.
  • School of Nursing graduates its first class.
  • Student Union – Games Area: 177,000 students participate in the games; of this number, 72,446 participate in bowling; 59,803 in billiards; 17,945 in ping pong; and 27,574 check out miscellaneous games available.
  • The Health Service enjoys a relatively quiet year as compared to 1957 with its Asiatic influenza epidemic. The staff remains the same: 2 doctors, 5 nurses, 3 cooks, 1 housekeeper and 1 clerk, all full time.
  • Ground breaking for the new addition to Goodell Library building.


  • Public Health Center constructed with classrooms, research laboratories and an auditorium.
  • Bartlett Hall built on the site of the Old Drill Hall, named for former Trustee Joseph W. Bartlett (1959-1960).


  • UMass Building Authority established and the Building Association discontinues its building program.
  • With the installation of John W. Lederle on Sept. 25, as the 15th President, the University’s greatest decade of development and expansion begin. He leaves office June 30, 1970.
  • Enrollment at 6,331.
  • Massachusetts Assembly-Annual Lecture Series established by the students.


  • An electronic computer center is established in Goessmann Chemistry Laboratory building.
  • WFCR, an educational FM radio station, officially begins operations on May 8th.


  • Fiscal Autonomy law gives University greater self-management of funds; fiscal authority to trustees.
  • Morrill Science Center completed.
  • The University of Massachusetts Medical Center at Worcester is founded.


  • April 29th, celebration of 100th anniversary. University enrollment at an all-time high of 7,600.
  • Harold Cary's The University of Massachusetts: A History of One-Hundred Years, the official history of the University, is published.
  • Dedication of Holdsworth Hall, named for Professor Emeritus Robert P. Holdsworth.
  • In the School of Engineering, the first Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree is awarded in June.
  • In January, the University’s Master of Business Administration program is accredited by the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business. The University is the only state University in New England to receive accreditation in this program.
  • November 16, Gorman House dedicated as a memorial to Edwin Daniel Gorman (1912-1961) who made outstanding contributions to the development of education in the Commonwealth as a Representative from Holyoke in the Massachusetts General Court.
  • Brett House dedicated December 9, 1962, as a tribute to Alden Chase Brett (Class of 1912), long time member of the University’s trustees and one of his alma mater’s most loyal, energetic and devoted sons.



  • The University’s second campus opens in Boston (UMass Boston).
  • Franklin Dining Hall constructed.



  • Undergraduate tuition is at $200.00 for in-state students.


  • Astronomy Building, Berkshire Dining Hall, Cance House, Herter Hall, Moore House, Pierpont House and Thompson Hall are built.
  • Johnny Carson makes one of his rare college performances as the Saturday night highlight of Winter Carnival .
  • The School of Engineering awards its first doctoral degrees.
  • Dick Gregory criticizes “Our Insane Democracy;” addresses a capacity size crowd at the Cage.


  • UMass Worcester Medical School enrolls its first class.
  • Enrollment stands at 23,389.
  • Robert C. Wood serves as President July 1, 1970-December 31, 1977, leading the expansion of the UMass system
  • To be more effective, the Office of the President is relocated to Boston from Amherst where it had been located since the founding of the institution.
  • The Office of Chancellor is established as the primary administrative position at each campus.


  • Total enrollment stands at 22,500 students.
  • University Library constructed, 28 stories tall (1971-1973).


  • In-state tuition, undergraduate at $250.00.


  • Total enrollment all programs stands at 24,138.


  • UMass Boston Campus expanded to Harbor Campus.


  • Enrollment reaches 25,884.


  • Holdings in University Libraries total 1,453,314 volumes.
  • Tuition in-state, undergraduate is $345.00.


  • Franklin Patterson Acting President.
  • David C. Knapp President from Sept. 1, 1978 till March 16, 1990.


  • In-state undergraduate tuition is $625.00.


  • Enrollment at 24,737.


  • In-state tuition at $952.00


  • Full-time instructional faculty at 1,211.


  • Enrollment at 25,838.


  • In-state undergraduate tuition, $1,208.


  • Enrollment reaches 26,472.


  • University Libraries total number of volumes is 2,129,588.


  • In-state undergraduate tuition is $1,296.


  • In-state undergraduate tuition is $1,404.00.


  • The Board of Trustees commissions a blue ribbon panel (Saxon Commission) to examine “the future role of the University of Massachusetts in the Commonwealth, its governance and financing.”


  • Joseph D. Duffey serves as president from March 17, 1990 till June 30, 1991.
  • Enrollment dips to 24,474.
  • In-state undergraduate tuition at $1,935.00


  • E. K. Fretwell, Jr. serves as Interim President from July 1, 1991 till August 31, 1992.
  • Governor William F. Weld signs legislation creating a new five campus University of Massachusetts with a single President and Board of Trustees.
  • UMass Dartmouth and UMass Lowell added to University system.


  • Michael K. Hooker serves as President Sept. 1, 1992 through May 31, 1995.
  • Enrollment drops to 23,028 students.


  • In-state undergraduate tuition at $2,220.00.
  • Number of Library books: 2,575,292.


  • Library books in University Libraries climbs to 2,634,277.


  • Sherry Penney serves as Interim President, June 1, 1995-Jan. 3, 1996.
  • Enrollment climbs to 24,125.


  • William M. Bulger comes aboard as President, University of Massachusetts, on January 4th.
  • In-state undergraduate tuition at $2,109.00


  • Total enrollment is at 23,932.
timeline.txt · Last modified: 2021/09/03 12:47 by
UMass Amherst seal
Special Collections & University Archives :: UMass Amherst Libraries
154 Hicks Way :: UMass Amherst :: Amherst, MA 01003 | Ph.: 413.545.2780 | Contact SCUA