Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Dean, Oliver, 1783-1871
|Oliver Dean (1783-1871) was the first president of the Board of Trustees of Tufts College and a great benefactor of the institution during its infancy.|
Dean was born in South Franklin, Massachusetts, on February 18, 1783.After completing the equivalent of elementary school, Dean worked briefly in a lumber yard in Dedham and as a woodsman in Machias, Maine, where he also taught in a country school for one winter. He then returned to Massachusetts to study for two terms at Framingham Academy and completed his general education under the Reverend Doctor Crane, studying Greek.
Choosing medicine as his career, Dean studied under two prominent Boston doctors before receiving his medical degree from the Curators of the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1809.He then practiced medicine in Boston and Medway from 1812 to 1817, during which time he married Caroline Francoeur, who died in 1866.
From 1817 to 1826, Dean relinquished his medical practice, becoming the superintendent of the Medway Cotton Manufactory. He then moved on to industrial endeavors in Manchester, New Hampshire, taking charge of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company. His development of the mill directly affected the surrounding community, encouraging the population's growth from a few hundred to several thousand people. He continued to serve as president of the corporation until his death almost fifty years later.
In 1834, Dean returned to Framingham, serving as presidentof the Framingham Bank and becoming active in community affairs, including the Universalist Church. From 1844 to 1851, Dean had permanent residences in Boston and then Franklin. In 1868, he married Louisa C. Hawes, a widow from Wrentham.
Dean's interest in higher education prompted him to offer his estate in Franklin in 1851 as a possible site for the Universalist Church's first institution of higher learning, which was chartered as Tufts College the following year. Although the school was eventually located on land donated by Charles Tufts in Somerville and Medford, Dean continued his affiliation with the endeavor, serving as one of the original provisional trustees elected in 1851. From 1852 until his death on December 5, 1871, Dean served as the president of the Tufts Board of Trustees.
In 1865, a coeducational preparatory school was also chartered under the Universalist Church in Franklin, intended to be a "feeder" school for Tufts. Dean Academy, built on land again offered by Dean, later became Dean Junior College, now known as Dean College. He also was a benefactor of the Universalist Church of Franklin, and the public libraries of Medway, Franklin, and Manchester, New Hampshire.
In 1886, Dean Hall, a men's dormitory on the Medford campus was built and named in his honor. It was razed in 1963 to make way for additional facilities for the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.