History of the University
Established in 1894 by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature, the State Normal School in Fitchburg opened in temporary quarters in the old high school building on Academy Street. Principal John G. Thompson, aided by a teaching staff of three, implemented a two-year teacher training program for women that had 46 participants. In December 1896, the school expanded into a new building, known as Thompson Hall, and set up the State School of Observation and Practice in city buildings on Day Street and Highland Avenue.
In the next decade the school was a trendsetter for programs in education. The Edgerly School opened, originally as an eighth-grade model and practice school. In 1910, it became one of the first junior high schools in the United States. The following year the school initiated the first practical arts teacher training course in the country for men.
In 1930, the State Normal School was authorized to offer a bachelor’s degree in practical arts, and in 1932, when it became the State Teachers College at Fitchburg, four-year degrees were offered in all areas of education.
Under the auspices of the State Division of University Extension, summer courses were first offered in 1915, marking the beginning of the university’s commitment to Continuing Education programs. In 1935, the college was also authorized to establish graduate programs and in 1954 the first evening courses were offered.
In 1960, the college changed its name and expanded its mission. The State College at Fitchburg diversified its programs to include degrees in disciplines other than education. In 1965, its name was officially changed to Fitchburg State College. In July, 2010 the governor signed legislation renaming us Fitchburg State University. Today we offer more than 68 undergraduate degrees in 14 academic departments, offering 35 majors, 36 master’s degree programs, two Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study programs, four post Baccalaureate certificate programs, and nine graduate certificate programs. Enrollment is up to 3,750 full-time and 2,990 part-time students which include 1,080 matriculated graduate students. The campus has expanded from a single structure on High Street to 45 buildings on 278 acres of which 113 acres make up the main campus, becoming the educational center for the Montachusett region. The University proudly offers traditional and non-traditional programs to serve the educational needs of its students as undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students.
Mission of the State Universities
There are six comprehensive state universities—Bridgewater State University, Fitchburg State University, Framingham State University, Salem State University, Westfield State University and Worcester State University—and three specialized colleges—Massachusetts College of Art, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The six comprehensive state universities integrate liberal arts and sciences programs with professional education, and the three specialized colleges also focus on academic areas identified in the college’s name.
Each state university places a special emphasis on teaching and lifelong learning and promotes a campus life that fosters intellectual, social and ethical development. Committed to excellence in instruction and to providing responsive, innovative and educational programs of high quality, they seek to develop each student’s critical thinking, quantitative, technological, oral and written communications skills and practical appreciation of the arts, sciences and humanities as they affect good citizenship and an improved quality of life. The state universities provide a campus environment where the ideas, values, perspectives and contributions of all students are respected.
Massachusetts state universities are strategically located to facilitate access to baccalaureate and master’s degree programs for Commonwealth residents who meet their high standards for admission. In recognition of their responsibilities to Massachusetts taxpayers to manage their resources efficiently and to maintain tuition and fees at a level as low as possible, each university has a distinctive academic focus based upon its established strengths and regional and state needs. Each university is a leader and resource for the community and contributes to the region’s cultural, environmental and economic development.
Fitchburg State University Core Values, Mission, Vision
|Offering equitable access to high-quality programs and services to people of varying cultural backgrounds living within and beyond our diverse community of North Central Massachusetts
|Providing opportunities for students of varying socioeconomic backgrounds to pursue an affordable, quality education
|Forging partnerships with businesses and community organizations within the region to enhance quality of life Enrichment Sustaining a supportive campus environment for students, faculty, staff, and alumni in which all members can grow and excel in their personal and professional lives
|Sustaining a supportive campus environment for students, faculty, staff, and alumni in which all members can grow and excel in their personal and professional lives
|Striving for excellence in academic programs and services through innovative teaching and professional practices
Fitchburg State University is committed to excellence in teaching and learning and blends liberal arts and sciences and professional programs within a small college environment. Our comprehensive public university prepares students to lead, serve, and succeed by fostering lifelong learning and civic and global responsibility. A Fitchburg State education extends beyond our classrooms to include residential, professional, and co-curricular opportunities. As a community resource, we provide leadership and support for the economic, environmental, social, and cultural needs of North Central Massachusetts and the Commonwealth.
Fitchburg State University will be nationally recognized for its excellence in teaching and learning in current and emergent fields, for its commitment to transforming lives through education, and for its dedication to public service.
In order to achieve this, we will:
- Prepare students for a global society through curricular innovation and program development;
- Achieve academic excellence by investing in our faculty and librarians in their pursuit of knowledge, professional competency, and scholarship;
- Employ innovative uses of technology in the library and across our campus to maximize student learning;
- Create a culture of diversity to meet the needs of the region and enhance the personal and academic lives of the university community;
- Build partnerships within our community to provide real-world opportunities for our students and collaborative solutions to community issues.