College of Special Studies, 1958-2018

The College of Special Studies was the administrative home for academic programs that serve populations outside the traditional undergraduate and graduate communities. This included a continuing education division, study abroad programs, and specialized training schools affiliated with the university. From the 1940s to the 1960s (as the Division of Univrsity Extension and the Division of Special Studies), students of the predominantly female affiliates were taught by Tufts faculty but were never fully integrated into the college's social life. After the demise of the affiliates program, the CSS administered the liaison with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and various graduate continuing education programs.

History of College of Special Studies

The College of Special Studies, originally known as The Division of University Extension, was the administrative home for academic programs that serve populations outside of the traditional Tufts undergraduate and graduate communities. This included a continuing education division, study abroad and summer school programs, and specialized training schools affiliated with the university.

During the late 1930s, a committee of the Arts and Sciences faculty was appointed to consider the feasibility of extension work at Tufts. Their report of May 3, 1939, strongly recommended an extension division, in part as a benefit for the surrounding community. They suggested naming it the Division of Community Service. In their opinion, it should be run on campus by a separately delegated authority and provide "a respectable diversity of courses" at the college level. With the fees it received, it should be self-sustaining.

The Division of University Extension first appeared in the 1939-1940 Bulletin of Tufts College with the statement that it offered "courses of undergraduate and graduate grade in the major liberal arts fields of knowledge and in the engineering sciences" that were "designed to give qualified adults the opportunity to pursue college and graduate work in part-time attendance." The Division was largely an offshoot of the Department of Education, designed to allow working teachers to take professional development classes during the late afternoon, evenings and weekends. Classes were taught by members of the Tufts faculty. A Bachelor of Science in Education degree, offered to extension school students, was authorized in 1940. The Division became a member of the Commission on Extension Courses, which was founded in 1910 and based at Harvard.

The Division was headed by John P. Tilton, who was also Director of Graduate Studies. Its faculty included the heads of major departments in the School of Arts and Sciences and deans of all divisions. Courses were available on a part-time basis to high school graduates not seeking a degree. Members of the college staff, faculty, and their spouses could take classes at half-tuition. Graduate students could also take advantage of the Division's offerings to supplement courses in the regular curriculum.

A number of other entities came under the umbrella of the Division of University Extension in its early years. These include the evening University Lectures, which were open to the general public; the Institute for Educational Guidance (a program for teens and their parents); the Vacation School of French; and the Tufts College Nursery School (the responsibility for which later shifted to the Nursery Training School). It also was the liaison within Tufts for the Lowell Institute of Broadcasting Council, the precursor to Boston public radio and television station WGBH. For several years Tufts participated in educational broadcasts for which college credit could be earned.

During the war years, Tufts entered into affiliations with a number of teacher-training schools via the Division of University Extension. The student bodies of these affiliates were predominantly or solely made up of women; consequently, these enrollees were not subject to the draft. The Bouvé -Boston School of Physical Therapy and Physical Education became an affiliate in 1942, and the Boston School of Occupational Therapy and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts became affiliates in 1945. After the war, the roster expanded to include the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists in 1948 and the Nursery Training School of Boston (which would become the Eliot-Pearson School) in 1951.

These Boston-based schools retained their own independent administrations and procedures. The liberal arts and basic science courses taken by students of the affiliates were taught by Tufts faculty, but in general were not the same classes taken by students of Tufts and Jackson. Part of the Division's value to the college community was that it offered Tufts faculty the opportunity to supplement their salaries by teaching classes for the affiliate schools.

On October 28, 1949, the Division of Extension became the Division of Special Studies. In 1952, Richard A. Kelley succeeded Tilton as director. With Tufts' change in status from college to university in 1955, the Division became the College of Special Studies (CSS), and Kelley became its dean, rather than director. Kelley served in this capacity until 1977.

In 1954, the CSS launched the General Electric Apprentice Program. Designed to give students who would not otherwise be able to attend college a chance at earning a degree in engineering, the program combined daytime work at G.E.'s plant in Lynn with four years of evening classes on the Tufts campus. It was financed by G.E. Completion resulted in an Associate of Science degree in engineering, and qualified the graduate to enroll as a junior in the bachelor's degree program at Tufts. Professor Percy Hill of the Department of Engineering was coordinator of the program for its duration. According to a 1962 Tufts press release, one thousand men were screened by G.E. and Hill annually before the final acceptance of thirty men into the program, and the rate of completion was about fifty percent. The program was phased out beginning in 1963, with the final group graduating in 1967.

Russell Miller, in volume two of his history Light on the Hill, states that during the 1950s and 1960s, the CSS was "the most rapidly growing segment of the university." During this period, there were occasional proposals to bring more affiliate schools into the fold. One such school was Lasell Junior College, the entry of which into Special Studies would have established a nursing school with degree-granting privileges. Another potential candidate was the Garland School, which taught homemaking skills. However, no affiliates were added after 1951.

Although students of the affiliates were told in their various school publications that they were full members of the Tufts community, in reality they were not considered so. An increasing number of women from Bouvé, the Boston School of Occupational Therapy, and Eliot-Pearson moved into housing on or adjacent to the Medford campus during the 1950s, but many of their classes were in Boston, necessitating a commute. When on campus, their social activities often took place apart from those of the Tufts and Jackson students. Controversy arose when Dewick Hall, a new dining hall for Jackson women, was built in 1961. The Tufts administration decided that Special Studies students should eat in a separate hall to be built next to Dewick. A petition was circulated with the following statement: "We the undersigned protest the recent decision to segregate Special Studies girls from Jackson girls by setting up separate dining facilities. Segregating the two Colleges will only widen the gap already existent between us." Another struggle took place within Tufts' Alumni Council; for the first time, a representative from Special Studies was included on the council as of July 1, 1960.

In response to the Tufts-Carnegie Self-Study completed in 1959, which expressed concern over the lack of consistency in standards among the components of the CSS, an Advisory Council was formed. With Dean Kelley as its chairman, it was made up of representatives from Bouvé, BSOT, Eliot-Pearson, Forsyth, SMFA, the G.E. program, and the faculty of the CSS. Also in 1959, a name change to College of Professional Arts and Sciences was proposed, but was met with disapproval from the university administration and members of the faculty.

By 1962, Tufts President Nils Y. Wessell decided that the university should re-evaluate its practice of granting such strictly professional degrees as were given to CSS graduates. A firm believer in liberal arts education, he stated in a February 1963 memorandum entitled "The Academic Aims of Tufts University as They Relate to the College of Special Studies" that students of the affiliates should meet the Bachelor's degree requirements met by students at Jackson College, the College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Engineering. A concentration in a professional area would take place in the fifth year, and lead to a Master's degree. The affiliates were given the choice to merge with Tufts or disaffiliate.

As a result, Bouvé; and Forsyth disaffiliated from Tufts. Eliot-Pearson became the Department of Child Study (later, Department of Child Development) in 1964. The BSOT had merged with the university in 1960 to become the Tufts-Boston School of Occupational Therapy (and would later become Tufts' Department of Occupational Therapy), but its program was offered through the CSS as late as 1977. The SMFA was able to continue on as an affiliate, and in 1979 instituted a five-year dual degree program with Tufts.

During the 1960s and 1970s, as the number of evening classes in the continuing education program dwindled, the CSS took on the administration of the university's study abroad programs. Kelley made frequent trips overseas to meet with administrators of local universities, seek out faculty, make arrangements for housing and classroom space, and coordinate transportation.

When Kelley left Special Studies to become Special Assistant to the President in 1977, the CSS was in a state of flux. Responsibility for the TU-BSOT had gone to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and overseas programs were under review. The SMFA programs for B.F.A. and B.S. in Education degrees remained, as did the B.S. in Education for part-time students. The continuing education program was overseen by the assistant dean of Jackson.

Continuing education saw a resurgence during the 1980s under CSS director Bonnie Newman. In 1984 and 1985, the CSS published a newsletter aimed at Tufts faculty called Outlook on Continuing Education. It touted the advantages of teaching continuing education courses, and encouraged faculty members to come on board. Perhaps as a result of this effort, the CSS section of the annual Tufts Bulletin (which had barely mentioned continuing education for most of the decade) by 1987-1988 contained the statement that the CSS "sponsors a wide variety of continuing education programs focusing on both liberal arts and engineering."

In the spring of 1984, the CSS assumed responsibility for the Special Students Program, a non-matriculating, post-baccalaureate program for adult learners. Students could enroll in Tufts to prepare for further study or expand their knowledge of a particular field or discipline. By the 1991-1992 academic year it was called the Graduate Special Students and came under the heading of the Division of Professional and Continuing Studies (later, Office of Professional and Continuing Studies, then Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, and then Office of Graduate Studies). Graduate Special Students could earn advanced professional certificates in a variety of fields. The CSS also administered a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program for students with little or no science work in their undergraduate curriculum who are interested in pursuing graduate study in the health sciences.

In 2011, the CSS administered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts affiliation, and its Office of Graduate Studies offered certificate programs and oversaw the Graduate Career Advancement Program (GCAP), through which part-time students attended undergraduate or graduate courses. In November 2018, the CSS was replaced by University College, which took on responsibility for Summer Session, Courses at Tufts, Winter Term, Tufts Pre-College Programs, and Lifelong Learning and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Tufts.

  • College of Special Studies, records
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  • Dean of Special Studies (1949-2008)