UMass Dartmouth's beginnings

UMass Dartmouth traces its roots to 1895, when the state legislature chartered two textile schools: New Bedford Textile School and the Bradford Durfee Textile School in Fall River.

Interior of the Bradford Durfee Textile School in Fall River, Massachusetts Machine Shop 1914

Interior of the Bradford Durfee Textile School in Fall River, Massachusetts Machine Shop, 1914

A diversified curricula for changing times

As the region’s economic base shifted from textiles to more diverse manufacturing and service industries, the colleges changed, too. They diversified their curricula, responding to the needs of new generations of students.

By the middle of the 20th century, the colleges were growing rapidly, spurred by such forces as the GI Bill and the clear economic and social advantages of a well-educated citizenry. They had become multipurpose institutions, preparing engineers, health care workers, teachers, and business leaders—and had forged new identities: New Bedford Institute of Technology and Bradford Durfee College of Technology.

UMass Dartmouth  slide original of campus 1970's

Slide of original campus, 1970's

Dramatic new campus

In 1960, the state legislature created Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute (SMTI) by merging the New Bedford Institute of Technology and the Bradford Durfee College of Technology. The 710 acre campus in North Dartmouth, part way between New Bedford and Fall River, was established in 1964. The dramatic campus design was the work of architect Paul Rudolph, then dean of Yale’s school of Art and Architecture.

Growth as a university

There was a clear public demand for a comprehensive university, and in 1969 SMTI became Southeastern Massachusetts University (SMU). The university continued to grow through the 1970s, when its first residence halls were finished and through the ’80s, as research and studio facilities came into being.

Cedar Dell townhouse, opened 1988

Cedar Dell townhouse, opened 1988

New strengths in science, engineering & art

In 1988, the Dion Science and Engineering Building was opened, as was the Cedar Dell Townhouse Complex.

Also in 1988, the Swain School of Design in New Bedford merged with the university’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, strengthening programs in art and artisanry. The Swain merger brought additional art facilities in New Bedford to the university.

UMass logo, 1991

UMass logo, 1991

Membership in the UMass system

In 1991, a new University of Massachusetts structure combined the Amherst, Boston, and Worcester campuses with Southeastern Massachusetts University and the University of Lowell (now UMass Lowell). Thus Southeastern Massachusetts University became the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

School for Marine Science and Technology, opened 1997

School for Marine Science and Technology, opened 1997

Expanded academics, innovative research

In 1994, UMass Dartmouth received approval to offer its first PhD degree, in Electrical Engineering, and began to offer a number of joint doctoral programs with other UMass campuses.

In 1997, construction was completed for the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), located on 2.6 acres in New Bedford near Buzzards Bay. A full program of research and development is now supported in this new facility.

Beginning in 1997, student/faculty teams began to engage in landscaping beautification projects across campus.

Star Store campus, opened 2001

Star Store campus, opened 2001

A vibrant center for the arts

In 2001, the university opened the Star Store campus in downtown New Bedford, a structure transformed from a landmark department store into a vibrant arts center located in the city’s historic district.

Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center, opened 2001

Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center, opened 2001

New technology, manufacturing & start-ups

The university opened a new $14 million Advanced Technology & Manufacturing Center (now the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship) in Fall River, also in 2001. The 60,000 square foot research and development center features conference space, specialty labs in acoustics, optics, telecommunications, materials, textiles and environmental engineering, as well as incubator space for start-up companies.

Commitment to continuing education

In 2002, the university opened the Professional and Continuing Education Center in Fall River in the fully renovated Cherry and Webb building. A second centrally located Center for Professional and Continuing Education opened in New Bedford in 2004.

Two new student residence buildings, Oak Glen Hall and Pine Dale Hall, were also completed in 2002.

Charlton College of Business building, opened 2004

Charlton College of Business building, opened 2004

New building for the Charlton College of Business 

In fall 2004, the university opened a new building for the Charlton College of Business on the Dartmouth campus.

It also broke ground for another two new student residence buildings, to meet the increasing demand for on-campus housing.

Woodlands Community, opened 2005

Woodlands Community, opened 2005

Woodlands Community

Six new residence halls, part of the Woodlands Community, opened its doors in 2005, offering fully furnished, apartment-style living for upper-level students. Located near the Tripp Athletic Center, Woodlands Community also has a commons building that offers a 3,000 square foot function room that can seat up to 300 people, six smaller meeting rooms and a café.

Research Building, opened 2007

Research Building, opened 2007

Focus on science, research & innovation

In 2007, the university opened a 22,000-square-foot Research Building, the first at UMass Dartmouth devoted entirely to research, strengthening the "Innovation Triangle" in southeastern Massachusetts that includes major research and development centers in New Bedford and Fall River.