Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1880 by Charles Wesley Emerson as a "school of oratory," Emerson is "the only comprehensive college or university in America dedicated exclusively to communication and the arts in a liberal arts context." Offering more than three dozen degree programs in the area of Arts and Communication, the college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Located in Boston's Washington Street Theatre District on the edge of the Boston Common, the school also maintains buildings in Los Angeles and the town of Well, The Netherlands.
Emerson College has been named the winner of the Environmental Protection Agency’s College and University Green Power Challenge for the Great Northeast Athletic Conference for 2012–13.
OriginsCharles Wesley Emerson founded the Boston Conservatory of Elocution, Oratory, and Dramatic Art in 1880, a year after Boston University closed its School of Oratory. Classes were held at Pemberton Square in Boston. Ten students enrolled in the conservatory's first class. The following year, the conservatory changed its name to the "Monroe Conservatory of Oratory," in honor of Charles Emerson's teacher at Boston University's School of Oratory, Professor Lewis B. Monroe. In 1890, the name changed again to "Emerson College of Oratory" and was later shortened to Emerson College in 1939.
Early expansion and growthThe college expanded and rented space at 36 Bromfield Street, and moved to Odd Fellows Hall on Berkeley and Tremont Streets in the South End of Boston. With the new location, the college's first library was established in 1892. Henry Southwick, a faculty member and graduate, became a financial partner for the college with Emerson. This financial partnership led to the purchase of the Boston School of Oratory from Moses T. Brown in 1894.
At the turn of the century, faculty members Henry and Jessie Southwick and William H. Kenney purchased the college from Dr. Emerson. Soon after, the college rented a new location in Chickering Hall.
Dr. Emerson retired in 1903 and William J. Rolfe, a Shakespearean scholar and actor, was named the second President of Emerson College of Oratory. His service as president lasted until his retirement in 1908.
As the Student Government Association of the college held its first meeting in 1908, the third president of the college, Henry Lawrence Southwick, was inaugurated. He introduced the study of acting and stagecraft into the college curriculum.
During his tenure, the college rented a new building at 30 Huntington Avenue. The college was also granted the right to award Bachelor of Literary Interpretation (B.L.I.) degrees. In addition, Emerson became the first school with a collegiate-level program in Children's theater in 1919. The school offered its first course in Journalism in 1924.
The college purchased its first piece of real estate with a new women's dormitory building at 373 Commonwealth Ave. and started intramural sports in 1931 with the organization of volleyball games.
Administrative restructuringIn 1930, full charge and control of the college was transferred to the Board of Trustees by William H. Kenney, Henry Lawrence Southwick, and Jessie Southwick.
When Harry Seymour Ross was appointed the fourth president of Emerson College in 1931, the first course in radio broadcasting was taught by the program director of WEEI, a Boston AM radio station.
The purchase of buildings at 130 Beacon Street and 128 Beacon Street a year later began the presence of Emerson College in Boston's Back Bay. Emerson kept ownership of these buildings until summer 2003.
In the following years, a professional training program in Speech Pathology (1935) and the first undergraduate program in broadcasting and broadcast journalism (1937) were offered for the first time in the United States. Also, construction of a theater behind 128–130 Beacon began, and the institution was granted the right to award master of arts degrees.
Post-war eraIn the post-war era, the G.I. Bill of Rights and the Broadcasting curriculum contributed to the rebalancing of the student body from a primarily-female population to an equally-balanced population of men and women. Boylston Green, the first president to have no prior association with the college, used his background as a dean of students to enhance extracurricular activities, including the establishment of a student activities fee. These efforts led to the first publication of Emerson's student newspaper, The Berkeley Beacon, in 1947. It is still in production today.
Emerson also saw major development in its broadcasting program. A one-year Certificate of Broadcasting was offered via evening classes. The FCC awarded the college a 10-watt license in 1949, and WERS, the first educational FM radio station in New England, was born. The station's power was increased to 300 watts three years later, and 18,000 watts by 1953.
At the start of the decade, In 1950  Emerson College became a member of the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, an accreditation association for schools and colleges in New England.
President Green left the college in 1949 after being selected as president of the University of the South, and Godfrey Dewey served as Acting President until 1951. At that time, Jonathon French was appointed as Acting President, and he became President in December of that year, despite never being formally inaugurated.
Financial crisis of 1952 and recoveryThe college suffered from a severe financial crisis in 1952, and sought $50,000 in emergency funding. At the time, the Chairman of the Corporation stated that without these funds, the college had three alternatives: go broke, sell out, or join up with another institution. Led by the National Alumni Council, a grassroots campaign was launched to improve the financial situation of the college. The efforts led to the resignation of the Council of Trustees, which was then replaced mostly by alumni. The new board elected a former Emerson history professor, S. Justus McKinley, as the fifth President of Emerson College.
Pulling out of its financial crisis, the college started to develop its programs with new facilities. In 1953, Emerson opened the Robbins Speech and Hearing Clinic at 145 Beacon Street, furthering the Communication Sciences and Disorders program. A television studio was dedicated at 130 Beacon in 1954, with its first closed-circuit TV program the following year as WERS-TV. The first annual spring musical, Lady in the Dark by Moss Hart, was presented.[when?]
The school was authorized  to grant Bachelors and Masters of Science in Speech, honorary degrees, and Bachelor of Music in conjunction with the Longy School of Music.
Back Bay as Emerson's campusAs the 1960s started, the building at 373 Commonwealth Avenue was sold to purchase a dormitory at 100 Beacon Street to accommodate an enrollment of 609 undergraduate and 29 graduate students. A year later, a building at 150 Beacon Street was obtained for dorms, dining hall, and administrative offices. With major gifts from Elisabeth Abbot Smith and J.F. Buzzard, the college Library moved from the fourth floor of 130 Beacon Street into its own building at 303 Berkeley Street. In 1964, two buildings were purchased: 96 Beacon Street, which became the student union building, and 132–134 Beacon Street, which became a dormitory. The campus remained primarily in Back Bay until the late 1990s.
In 1967, Richard Chapin, former Dean of the Harvard Business School was inaugurated as the seventh president of Emerson College.
Shortly afterward, an academic planning committee approved a new course of study for general education requirements. The first level of this program replaced the college-wide requirements with a two-year interdisciplinary course of study and electives.[further explanation needed] In order to accommodate this new program, the building at 67–69 Brimmer Street was purchased. The Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies was born. A year later (1972), the college gained authorization[by whom?] to grant BFA, and MFA degrees.
Attempted relocationThough Emerson College has moved to various locations within the city of Boston, the appointment of Allen E. Koenig (the ninth president of Emerson College) almost took the college completely outside of Boston. As soon as he was inaugurated in 1979, Koenig initiated talks with Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts to relocate Emerson and merge the two schools. However, an agreement was never reached and the plan was dropped entirely.
At the start of the 1980s, Koenig made a proposal to the Board of Trustees for a major renovation of the college's facilities. The plan allowed for new performance spaces, classrooms, and faculty offices at Brimmer Street; remodeling the Library and Learning Resources Center at 150 Beacon; remodeling the 303 Berkeley building for the Humanities and Social Sciences Division; a new radio/audio complex at 126 Beacon; and construction of two new television studios behind 130 Beacon.
In 1984, 335 Commonwealth Avenue was purchased for Administration and the Communication Studies department. The college also received the authorization to grant MFA degrees in Creative Writing.
Despite the newly purchased Commonwealth Avenue buildings, Lawrence, Massachusetts was soon being discussed as a new location for Emerson College, about 44.5 km (27.7 mi) away from Boston. The mayor of Lawrence announced that the necessary land would be taken by eminent domain and sold to Emerson for a token payment of $100. However, the five affected private landowners disagreed with this arrangement and fought the city in court. Three years later in 1988, Judge John Forte ruled in favor of the City of Lawrence. The river-front site in Lawrence was proposed as the new campus for the College. However, as real estate values in Boston dropped and the costs of constructing a new campus increased, the plans were put on hold and eventually abandoned when Koenig resigned as president in 1989. In 1988, the college bought a building at Zero Marlborough Street (also known as 6 Arlington Street) for dormitories and a dining hall.
In an unrelated move, Kasteel Well in the Netherlands was purchased and became the home of Emerson's overseas program (now called External Programs).
Rebirth in the Theater District
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During Zacharis's leave, Jacqueline Weis Liebergott was appointed as Acting President and, a year later, inaugurated to become the first female president of the college. Shortly after, she submitted a 10-year master plan to the Boston Redevelopment Authority which involved moving the college to the Washington Street Theatre District (also known at that time as the Combat Zone).
In the mid-1990s, a planning document of the college's future plans was drafted and public hearings were held. The college also extended health care benefits to domestic partners of gay and lesbian faculty, administration and staff. Under the plan, dental coverage and tuition waivers were also available.
1994 was also the year the college started to go online with a $100,000 gift from Mrs. Mary E. Tufte. Financed by the contribution, The Tufte Lab was placed on the fourth floor of the Ansin Building and dedicated in Mrs. Tufte's honor. The lab was the catalyst for a telecommunications / fiber optic network installation, which was completed in October 1995.
In addition, the college announced the purchase and restoration of The Little Building (Boston) (1994) across the street from the Ansin Building and next to Emerson's Majestic Theatre. Restoration was completed on the façades of the college's buildings at 126, 128, 130, 132–134, 168 Beacon Street, and 21 Commonwealth Avenue.
In 1998, Emerson purchased the Walker Building (Boston) at 120 Boylston. The building currently hosts the school's Department of Television, Radio, Film Production, the Institutional Advancement (Alumni and Development) department, and the Government and Community Relations department. It also contains the school's Library and many of its classrooms.
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In 2004, it was announced that the buildings at 96, 100, and 132 Beacon had been sold and would be vacated by the Fall 2006 semester.
Construction of a new 14-story residence hall at 150 Boylston Street began in March 2004, and was completed in September 2006 in time for the new school year. It is the first entirely-new residence hall in Emerson's history. The facility includes residential suites, athletic facilities, offices and meeting rooms for student organizations, informal gathering places for off-campus students, spaces for small-group rehearsals and performances, and dining facilities.
Paramount Theatre (Boston) on Washington Street, with plans to build a new complex at the site including a 565-seat main stage theater inside the existing Paramount Theater and a 125-seat black box theater in an adjacent new building. Plans also included a 200-seat film screening room, eight rehearsal studios ranging from 700 to 1,900 square feet (65 to 177 m2), six smaller rehearsal spaces, a sound stage for film students, a new scene shop, and a dormitory for 260 students.
On April 3, 2006, a 3-short-ton (2.7 t) scaffolding platform on the east side of the 150 Boylston construction project fell to the street below, killing two construction workers and one passing motorist. The scaffolding had been attached to the east side of the building and was in the process of being removed. Investigators found that the construction workers did not properly secure the scaffolding to a crane while dismantling the apparatus, causing the platform to be unstable and resulting in the collapse. Construction was stopped for over a week to allow investigators to determine the cause of the accident, but was resumed in time to meet the project's August 2006 deadline.
In May 2006, the Campus Center in the Piano Row building was named the Max Mutchnick Campus Center after a major gift from the 1987 graduate and co-creator of the television sitcom Will & Grace. In the same year, the school exercised its purchase option on the Colonial Theatre adjacent to the Little Building, and then converted the upper floors of the building to a 372-bed dormitory. With the addition of dorm space here and at the Paramount Theatre, the school hopes to accommodate up to 75% of its students in on-campus housing by the year 2010.
In September 2006 a long-running labor dispute between the administrators and faculty union was resolved. The administration limited the union's role in promotion and tenure, and brought department chairs into administrative roles, where they were not covered by the union. In response, the college agreed not to dismantle the union.
On December 2, 2009, President Liebergott announced she would step down in June 2011. On September 8, 2010, the college announced she would be succeeded by M. Lee Pelton of Willamette University.
On March 18, 2010, the newly renovated Paramount Center officially opened, with Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino illuminating the Paramount's original art deco marquee, which Emerson had restored. In addition to the 590-seat Paramount Theatre, the Paramount Center also houses an experimental black box theater, the Bright Family Screening Room (for films), a sound stage, a scene/prop production shop, nine rehearsal studios, six practice rooms, four classrooms, 20 faculty offices, and a student gathering area. A commercial restaurant will be located on the street level.
Presidents of the college
- Charles Wesley Emerson (1880–1903)
- William James Rolphe (1903–08)
- Henry Lawrence Southwick (1908–32)
- Harry S. Ross (1932–45)
- Boylston Green (1945–49)
- Samuel Justus McKinley (1949–67)
- Richard Chapin (1967–75)
- Gus Turbeville (1975–77)
- presidency empty (1977–79)
- Allen E. Koenig (1979–89)
- John Zacharis (1989–92)
- Jacqueline Liebergott (1992–2011)
- M. Lee Pelton (2011–present)
Emerson campus todayEmerson College has completed its move[when?] from Boston's Back Bay neighborhood to the historic Washington Street Theatre District, abutting the southeast corner of Boston Common. The main campus is served by Boylston station on the MBTA Green Line and Chinatown station on the MBTA Orange Line.
The College also owns a fourteenth-century castle in The Netherlands (the base for its European programs), and as of 2013 is constructing a major academic center on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood to house its long-standing Los Angeles programs.
Academic and theater buildings
Ansin Building (180 Tremont Street)Once owned by the Boston Edison Company, the Ansin Building was purchased by Emerson in 1992. The building stands 14 stories high and contains all Visual & Media Arts (VMA) labs and facilities, offices for all VMA and Writing, Literature & Publishing (WLP) departments, and is the home of WERS, WECB, and ETIN (Emerson's Talk and Information Network, an online radio service). It also contains the Tufte and 3D computer labs, Digital Production labs, and the Media Services center.
Computer Labs: 3D Lab (3DL), Tufte Lab, Writing & Publishing Lab (WPL), XML (Opened Fall 2006)
Production Labs/Facilities: Digital Production Labs 1 & 2 (DPL1, DPL2), Video Editing Lab (VEL), Steenbeck Lab
216 Tremont StreetThe former Union Bank building at 216 Tremont Street houses the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and its clinic for hearing-impaired children. Also located here are the offices of the Registrar, Student Financial Services, Health Services, Career Services, the Counseling Center and the International Student Center. The Bill Bordy Theater and Auditorium on the ground floor is used for lectures, performances, performance classes and special events.
Computer Labs: Communication Sciences and Disorders Lab (CSD)
Walker Building (120 Boylston Street)Home to classrooms, offices to various non-academic and academic departments, and five computer labs, and the Iwasaki Library. The fifth and sixth floors connect to the Tufte building.
Computer Labs: Advanced Projects Lab (APL), Advanced Teaching Lab (ATL), Communication & Marketing Labs (CML) 1, 2, and Journalism Lab (JRL)
Production Facilities: Newsroom TV Studio, Newsroom Editing Labs
Academic Facilities: Iwasaki Library, Emerson College Archives and Special Collections
During the summer of 2008, the Walker building underwent construction to be completed before fall of 2008 to fill in the light-well that provided natural light to floors 2 through 6 to insert the set of popular NBC television show Will & Grace, donated by Emerson alumnus Max Mutchnick, in the Iwasaki Library. The project also provides new study rooms for students on the other floors.