A Springfield College History Briefing

Chris Theos
Staff Writer




Now, before I get into the history of the College and its former presidents, I’d just like to clarify that your NSO leaders probably did tell you a good portion of this stuff. If you’re anything like me, however, you were probably too busy thinking “Why the hell are these people screaming at me about a moose?” to really notice.

On Monday, Feb. 16 this year, we recognized our early presidents for shaping the country as it is today: George Washington for taking part of the revolution and becoming the first President of the United States; Thomas Jefferson for writing the Declaration of Independence and engineering the Louisiana Purchase; and Abraham Lincoln for eventually abolishing slavery. And not just the early presidents, but the later ones, too.

Much like the United States as a country, Springfield College, formerly known as the “School for Christian Workers,” was founded without a full-time leader. While Reverend David Allen Reed (1895-1891) founded the SCW in 1885, he did not lead it full-time. Obviously, he worked as a reverend as well. The purpose of the institution was to train students to be Sunday school teachers and administrators of the YMCA. In Reed’s tenure, he saw the campus’ first academic buildings put up, and the first athletic grounds be installed, setting the institution known today as Springfield College on its feet.

The next few years would become very well known for their progress in bringing sport to the campus. In the last year of David Allen Reed’s presidency, 1890, Amos Alonso Stagg introduced the campus to football (or at least the form of football played back in the late 19th Century). Reed also incorporated the school, changing the name to simply “YMCA Training School.” After Henry Lee (1891-1893) took charge in 1891, James Naismith, the man essentially responsible for the National Basketball Hall of Fame being 2 miles down the road, invented basketball at the demand of the head of YMCA Athletics, Luther Gulick. Lee also converted the school to the new title of “International YMCA Training School.”

Under Charles Barrows (1893-1896), the school transferred to the current location, and built Judd (at the time called West) Gymnasium, along with the campus’ first dormitory, which is now the administration building. Former student William G. Morgan invented volleyball in 1895, adding to the illustrious record of Springfield as an innovative creation center of sports. The first full-time president of the International YMCA Training School was Laurence L. Doggett (1896-1936), who to this day holds the record for longest tenure as president of Springfield College (or the International YMCA Training School). In his 40 years, the campus took huge steps into becoming the campus it is today. In 1910, Pratt Field was created. In 1912, Marsh Chapel was dedicated. In 1914, Locklin Hall was finished, just not called Locklin at that time. In 1920, Reed Hall was built, and in 1923, Weiser Hall was finished. In 1927, Alumni Hall, the biggest and most intricate of the dorms today, was built. Most notably, in a Louisiana Purchase-type move, East Campus was purchased in 1928, then-known as the Lake Massasoit campsite.

Yet probably more important than the advances in the architecture and size of campus were the cultural changes that took place during Doggett’s time here. Springfield College is widely known for being very accepting and taking every opportunity to incorporate every aspect of cultural diversity that it can. Doggett started that by having the first African American students in the first class of 4-year graduates (1906). He was alos instrumental in bringing the first women students to campus in summer classes in 1928.

In 1937, Ernest Best (1937-1946) took over, and in his tenure, he was able to set up a blueprint for construction that presidents after him would follow, including Paul Limbert (1946-1952). Limbert’s tenure would oversee the construction of the Field House and Abbey-Appleton Hall, further advancing the campus closer to what it is today. Donald Stone (1953-1957) is to thank for changing the name of the institution to what it is now: Springfield College. Finally, we didn’t sound like a bunch of buff gym trainers in short shorts and muscle shirts wanting to “pump you up” like Hanz and Franz.

After Glenn Olds (1958-1965) took over, over the course of two years (1960-1961) Lakeside and Massasoit dorms were built and the Schoo Center was built for academics. In 1963, SC took another step in a progressive direction by allowing for women’s athletics on campus. Lastly, before Olds gave up the job, he built International Hall in 1964. Wilbur Locklin (1965-1985) then took over in 1965, and ran the college all the way until 1985. Much like Doggett, Locklin’s large period of presidency allowed for multiple changes to be made. Construction included Cheney Hall, Gulick Hall, Babson Library, the Health Center, Blake track, the Fuller Arts Building, and the Physical Education Complex. Locklin left the keys to Frank Falcone (1985-1992), who completed the School of Human Services and the town houses.

After Falcone came Randolph Bromery (1992-1998), followed by Richard Flynn (1998-2013) who built the Campus Union that is so popular today, and now, since 2013, Mary-Beth Cooper, the 13th President of Springfield College. She is the only one half of the students on campus have known.

Much like the United States, or any institution with any sort of history, Springfield College has gone through many names, many leaders, and many constructions to become what it is now. Capturing it all are the archives. The archives sit below one of the first buildings built on this campus: Judd Gymnasia. Down a staircase and behind the doors lies the history of the very place students return to each and every year to better themselves in their future trade, a place where you can learn much more about all of these presidnets. Since 1885, the work of 12 men and one very respected woman have overturned the history of this school.


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