Lesley University is a private, coeducational university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, well known for its education, expressive therapies, creative writing, counseling, and fine arts programs.
The university is a member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and New England Collegiate Conference.
The modern Lesley University is the result of a merger between two institutions and their subsequent integration into a single institution. History prior to 1998 is of the two formerly independent institutions.
1909â"98: Lesley School/College and the School of Practical Art
The Lesley School (also known as Lesley Normal School) was founded by Edith Lesley in 1909 at her home at 29 Everett Street, Cambridge. The school began as a private women's institution that trained kindergarten teachers. As such, it espoused the work of Friedrich Froebel, who invented the concept of kindergarten as a complement to the care given children by their mothers. Teacher and writer Elizabeth Peabody opened Boston's first Froebel-inspired kindergarten in 1860; more kindergartens followed. Central to the Froeblian philosophy is the idea that individuals are important and unique, a focus that remains today at Lesley University.
Edith Lesley, after having lived in Panama and Maine and studied in Freiburg, Germany, moved to Boston and became involved with public school teaching. She completed kindergarten training, took courses at Radcliffe College, and then began to plan her own kindergarten training school. She wanted a school that would "consider the individual of basic importance; to inculcate the idea of gracious living; and to foster the tradition of American democracy." [quote from "A Century of Innovation," Brown and Forinash, eds.] Now married, Lesley and her husband expanded the school by constructing an addition at the rear of their home, which today is known as Livingston Stebbins Hall.
Around 1913, the Lesley School began training for elementary teachers. In 1941, the Lesley School reorganized under a board of trustees; in 1944, it received authority to award baccalaureate degrees and became known as Lesley College. In 1954, the college began to award graduate degrees; it later added majors in the fields of education, counseling, human services, global studies, art therapy, and management.
The School of Practical Art was founded by Roy Davidson in 1912. The school's early philosophy was based upon John Ruskin's words that it is "in art that the heart, the head, and the hand of a man come together" and Davidson's own belief that "beauty comes from the use." The school increasingly embraced the fine arts and developed a growing liberal arts curriculum; in 1967 the school was renamed the Art Institute of Boston to acknowledge its increased focus upon fine art as well as design, illustration, and photography.
1998â"present: Lesley University
In 1998, the Art Institute of Boston and Lesley College merged, and became Lesley University in 2001.
When university status was gained, the original colleges became the undergraduate units of the university. Lesley College's two graduate schools rounded out the university's four main academic units. In 2005, Lesley College (at that point, an all-female liberal arts college) became coeducational.
In 2006, the university acquired Prospect Hall, a former church listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with the goal of bringing the Art Institute of Boston to Cambridge. In 2008, the university entered into a partnership with Episcopal Divinity School to jointly operate their Brattle Street campus and purchase several buildings. This move added dormitories, a dining hall, and classrooms, as well as an expansion in library services and administrative space.
In 2009, the university embarked on its first major construction since the 1970s. Dormitories at 1 and 3 Wendell street were added to the residential life offerings. Both buildings are LEED Goldâ"certified.
In 2013, construction on the Lunder Arts Center began in Porter Square. It is being built on the former site of Prospect Hall, which was moved slightly to the south. The center is expected to be completed in 2015, and become the new home of the College of Art and Design.
In 2013, Lesley University's constituent colleges, the Art Institute of Boston and Lesley College were renamed College of Art and Design and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, respectively; the change is reflective of the cohesion and growth of the two colleges over the last 15 years.
Academics, colleges, and schools
The university, with its component undergraduate colleges, graduate schools, and centers, offers more than 20 undergraduate majors and over 90 Adult Bachelor's, Master's, Certificates of Advanced Graduate Study, and PhD programs at its Cambridge and Boston campuses, as well as off-campus and online. The Lesley Center for the Adult Learner offers an adult bachelor's degree program, including on- and off-campus courses as well as online and hybrid courses targeted toward adult learners.
The university is made up of the following academic units:
- College of Art and Design
- College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- Center for the Adult Learner
- Graduate School of Education
- Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences
- Threshold Program
- Brattle Campus, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA
- The Brattle Campus is a community of students, faculty, and staff from both Lesley University and Episcopal Divinity School. Though the schools remain separate entities, they work in partnership to care for the campus and operate the Sherrill Library. Brattle Campus is home to four residence halls, a dining hall, classrooms, and the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciencesâ"that building is also the birthplace of Charles Sanders Peirce.
- Doble Campus, Cambridge Common, Cambridge, MA
- The Doble Campus is home to residence halls and a dining hall, classrooms, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as Marran Theater and a variety of administrative offices. It is also home to many student life facilities, such as the Margaret McKenna Student Center, the Information Commons ( a 24-hour computer lab and study space), and the fitness center. The campus is named for Lesley benefactor and former chair of the Lesley Corporation, Frank C. Doble.
- Porter Campus, Porter Square, Cambridge, MA
- The Porter Campus is home to the majority of the university's classroom space and the Graduate School of Education, as well as Student Administrative and Financial Services, the bookstore, and several art galleries. The Lunder Arts Center is currently under construction on Porter Campus.
Residential Life at the university is for undergraduates. The program emphasizes community building, personal growth, and offers many leadership opportunities. Including: Community Advisors (Resident Assistants), Community Council, Residence Life Advisory Board, and Summer Resident Assistants. The university offers a variety of housing options from traditional style dormitories to Victorian homes and suite-style apartments.
Lesley University participates in the NCAA Division III's New England Collegiate Conference. Its athletic teams are called the Lesley Lynx.
- Official website
- Official athletics website