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Helping Students Succeed for More Than 150 Years.

Founded in 1865, Dean College creates and cultivates an environment of academic and personal success.

Dean College Mission Statement

Dean College is a private, residential New England college grounded in a culture and tradition that all students deserve the opportunity for academic and personal success. A uniquely supportive community for more than 150 years, Dean has woven together extensive student support and engagement with exceptional teaching and innovative campus activities. Our graduates are lifetime learners who thrive in their careers, embrace social responsibility and demonstrate leadership. This is The Dean Difference.

Dean College History

Timothy G. Senter began a term (1866 – 1871) as first Principal. The cornerstone was laid on May 16, 1867. Dean Hall was completed in 1868 and the first Commencement was held with 13 graduates. The Rev. J.R. Weston served as appointed Principal from 1872 to 1878.

The Academy offered men and women a well-rounded program of academics, athletics, and student activities. In addition, the Academy provided students a personal atmosphere that identified and cultivated the strengths of its students, preparing them for admission to college. An excellent reputation soon resulted, and the standards set during the early years have formed a strong tradition followed by Dean today.

Dean Hall was scarcely four years old when it suffered a devastating loss. During the summer of 1872, the building was destroyed by fire. The founders began rebuilding immediately and dedicated a new Dean Hall on June 7, 1874. During 1878 – 1880, the Academy became "a young ladies" institution for two years with Miss H. M. Parkhurst as Acting Principal.

Lester L. Burrington became principal in 1879 and helped to stabilize curriculum and faculty. Soon, Dean won recognition as a school affording a sound education within the reach of families of moderate means, and its reputation spread to distant states. Mr. Burrington was elected to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1896 and resigned as principal at the end of the winter term.

The "Peirce Era," one of the most significant in Dean's history, began in 1897 with the appointment of Arthur W. Peirce as principal. "Awpie," as his initials caused him to be nicknamed, was a kindly generous man, who was unable to believe ill of any boy or girl. His faith in young people rendered such a respect and loyalty for him that any transgression by any student was regarded disapprovingly as a personal affront to "Awpie." To this day, alumni are eager to recite their fond memories of him.

Several Franklin residents were leadership supporters of Dean. In October of 1901, ground was broken for a science building, the gift of two affluent Franklin alumnae, Miss Lydia P. Ray (1872) and her sister Miss Annie Ray (1874), daughters of then-trustee Joseph G. Ray. Miss Lydia subsequently married "Awpie," and Miss Annie married Adelbert D. Thayer of Franklin.

Dean Academy grew in many ways during Mr. Peirce's administration. Students attracted by its prestige came from nearly all the states and several foreign countries. Enrollment increased until 1931 when the graduating class numbered 146, the largest in the history of the Academy.

The school's athletic director and coach Daniel E. Sullivan '05, came to Dean in 1910 and, for 27 years, led Dean athletic teams in a long succession of victories over both academy schools and colleges. Dean played the freshman teams of Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and Annapolis, as well as many preparatory school teams. Indeed, a season with Dan Sullivan could equip a boy for some of the hardest knocks that adult life could offer.


The beloved "Awpie" died suddenly of a heart attack on December 20, 1934. To succeed him, the trustees appointed Earle Sessions Wallace '05, who came to Dean with progressive ideas and an enthusiasm for a "junior college" institution. This concept was not accepted readily in New England, because it constituted a drastic change from the conventions of the four-year college. Mr. Wallace persisted in his ideals and, almost single-handedly, obtained a charter from the Massachusetts Legislature in May 1941, authorizing the establishment of Dean Junior College.

In 1945, the first associate degrees were awarded and President Wallace resigned due to ill health. William Chadwick Garner was appointed President and Headmaster and faced numerous challenges. The coeducational Academy, in existence since 1865, providing preparation for a four-year college or university, was fully accredited. The Junior College, all women at that time, serving fundamentally as terminal preparation in vocational training, was not accredited.

After careful study, President Garner recommended that the Academy be discontinued and that the emphasis be placed on the junior college program. In June 1957, the last class of Dean Academy, all boys, was graduated. Dean Junior College opened in September of that year to capacity enrollment of men and women students with the mission of preparing students for transfer to four-year colleges. During the same year, Dean was accredited by the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

During the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, a comprehensive building program was completed resulting in the addition of Pieri Gymnasium, Peirce Science Center, the E. Ross Anderson Library, the Garner Student Center, and three residence halls. In addition, the College acquired several Franklin properties that were converted into faculty and staff housing, residence halls, classrooms, and office space.

Following the retirement of President Garner, Donald E. Deyo served as president from 1968-71. In 1972, Richard E. Crockford took over leadership of the College and served for 19 years. During his tenure, many new transfer and career-oriented associate degree programs were developed and several new facilities opened. These included the Children's Center, a laboratory pre-school; the Academic Computer Center; WGAO, the College radio station; and the Telecommunications Center, featuring video broadcast and editing studios. In addition, enrollment in the Division of Continuing Education grew to over 1,200-part time students. Mr. Crockford retired, and Dr. Frank B. Bruno was appointed President and served from 1991 – 1992. John A. Dunn, Jr. was appointed President and served from 1992 – 1995.

Three big changes occurred at Dean in 1994. The school officially changed its name on February 9, 1994, to Dean College, the team mascot was changed from Red Demons to Bulldogs and Dr. Paula M. Rooney was appointed President in July 1995.

Under Dr. Rooney's leadership, the growth of technology on campus accelerated. In 1997, the commuter station near the campus was named the Dean College/Franklin Station and a unique partnership was created with world-renowned Putnam Investments. The Putnam/Dean Pathway work-and-learn program provides students an opportunity to earn income and gain valuable experience in the rapidly growing mutual fund industry. New curriculum, Internet access, campus renovations and becoming a host site for the Intensive English Institute (1999) enhance all Dean College offers.

A new era began at Dean in fall 2000. Dean offered its first four-year degree, a B.A. in Dance. Additionally, Suffolk University and Dean entered into a collaboration to offer several bachelor's degrees at Dean. In January 2001 Dean College began offering Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer computer courses through a partnership with Pinnacle Training Corporation. Beginning in 2007, Dean offered its second four-year degree in Arts and Entertainment Management.

In May 2010, Dean College received approval from the Board of Higher Education to offer three new baccalaureate degree programs in Business, Liberal Arts and Studies and Theatre. In September of 2010, Dean opened its new 28,000-square-foot performance venue and dining center. In 2012, Dean College continued its expansion with the dedication its new $16M campus center. The list of dedications included the Janet and Philip Guidrey Center, Joan and Richard Smith Dining Center, Dr. Frank B. Campanella Board Room, Holly and Jan Kokes Fitness Center, The Robbins Family Center for Advising and Career Planning, Joan and Joseph Mahr Conference Room and the Andres Fernandez and Bill Smith Center for Student Development and Retention. In 2013, Dean unveiled the opening of Dorothy & Glendon Horne '31 Hall and dedicated the Morton Family Learning Center. Additionally, the college opened Berenson Mathematics Center. Made possible through the generosity of Dean Alumni, the new residence hall and state-of-the-art learning center provide an enhanced student experience to a continually growing student population. 

In 2014 the Palladino celebrated 50 years of dance education, and Dean launched four additional bachelor's degree programs in English, History, Psychology and Sociology.

In 2015, Dean College celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary—150 years of rich history and milestones. Dean collaborated with The Kraft Sports Group to establish The Center for Business, Entertainment and Sport Management. Dean added bachelor’s degree programs in Management, Security Management and Sport Management. The College also unveiled the newly renovated Grant Field as a venue for student recreation as well as athletic team practice. 

In 2016, Dean College launched additional bachelor’s degree programs, including Communications, Exercise Science and Coaching and Recreation. Dean held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Rooney Shaw Center for Innovation in Teaching, a center that focuses on developing teaching strategies that encourage active learning, enhanced by technology and delivered through various techniques. 

Dean College transitioned to provisional membership status in the NCAA Division III in September 2017. The College also introduced a bachelor’s degree program in Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Management. 

In 2017, the College was awarded with grant funding for several initiatives. The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) awarded Dean College with a grant for the purchase of lab equipment to improve quality of education and meet existing local life sciences workforce needs. The College was awarded a U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women grant for student educational programming efforts. And, Dean received funding from The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to infuse the humanities into Core Distribution offerings. 

In the fall of 2018 the College introduced a bachelor’s degree program in Marketing and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance.


Dean is an accredited private co-educational college offering both full- (day) and part-time (School of Continuing Studies) programs. The college awards both Associate and Baccalaureate degrees to students while offering unmatched learning support to prepare students for further studies or employment upon graduation.

Dean provides a supportive academic environment that thrives on student engagement and exceptional teaching. The Dean Difference is exemplified through each student's commitment to their professional futures, social responsibility and leadership. Outside of the classroom, students participate in 15 varsity sports and more than 40 on-campus groups and organizations.

Our beautiful 100-acre campus is located only 30 miles from Boston, MA and Providence, RI, and is accessible to Boston by commuter rail. The Dean College/Franklin station is only a five-minute walk from campus.

Today, Dean serves 1,200 full-time students and 400 part-time students, with more than 25,000 alumni. The College's future is based soundly upon its rich history of developing programs that meet the changing individual needs of students.

Today’s students, faculty, and staff thrive in a learning and work environment that is a century-and-a-half in the making. Fittingly, our College motto, inspired by Dr. Dean’s family saying, is Forti et Fideli Nihil Difficile: “To the strong and faithful nothing is difficult.”