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College History

Browse our digital collection of archival photographs

Archival picture of a design student beginning a new project
Class picture of Mount Ida Junior College circa 1950s

Our College’s History

History is always in the Making at Mount Ida College Mount Ida College’s journey from a women’s private high school to the premier career focused, co-educational college it is today began in 1899 at Mount Ida Hill in Newton, Massachusetts. In 1939, we moved to our present campus in Newton on the site of the former Robert Gould Shaw II Estate. At that time, there was a demand for advanced studies for women, so we evolved into one of the first junior colleges in New England, awarding our first associate degrees in 1967. The 1980s marked a burst of growth and change at Mount Ida. We opened our doors to men, becoming a co-educational institution, in addition to offering bachelor degree programs. More recently, in 2009, Mount Ida College launched its first master in science in management degree program, designed for busy working professionals interested in advancing their careers. Today, 90 percent of our students are enrolled in bachelor degree programs, and more than 40 signature majors that provide critical thinking skills and strong hands-on experiential learning. The Newton campus has expanded significantly since 1939. In the summer 2013, we undertook a major facility development and improvement plan, including a new student center, state-of-the-art fitness center, as well as significant renovations to Malloy Hall and the dental hygiene center. This building plan will provide our residential and commuter students with the best campus facilities to match our superb majors and program offerings. Mount Ida has a strong sense of pride in our past and a renewed commitment to our future. As we continue to grow, we look for new ways that we can excel academically, culturally and socially. Our bright, passionate students, dedicated faculty, and network of alumni have rich histories that are undeniably tied with ours. Collectively, we make Mount Ida what it is today – a diverse and vibrant campus of learners from all disciplines. Because we hold our college to the highest standards, we honor our history while instilling career focused excellence in the next generation of our Mustangs.

Mount Ida Presidents

  1. George Franklin Jewett: 1899-1926
  2. Abigail Fay Jewett: 1926-1929
  3. C. Frederick MacGill: 1929-1936, Principal
  4. F. William Carlson: 1939-1960
  5. Roy F. Carlson: 1960-1976
  6. Bryan Carlson, Ed.D. : 1976-2000
  7. Carol Matteson, Phd: 2000-2010
  8. Joanne Rooney: 2010-2010
  9. Doctor Lance W. Carluccio: 2011-2012, Interim President
  10. Barry Brown, JD: February 2012-Present

Mount Ida College History: A Timeline

1871: William Sumner Appleton purchases land in the Oak Hill section of Newton, which will eventually consist of Mount Ida’s second campus.
1899: Official listed first date of the Mount Ida School for Girls, founded by George Franklin Jewett and his wife Abigail Fay Jewett on Mount Ida Hill. He named the school after the Corner.
1900: The first class of girls was composed of six students, half of which were the daughters of the Jewetts.
1909: Robert Gould Shaw II acquires the Oak Hill estate from the Appletons in a roundabout way.
June 9, 1910: Mount Ida received its charter as a corporation, named “Mount Ida School for Girls, Inc.”
1911: Earliest mention of a Mount Ida baccalaureate service during Commencement.
1913: Introduction of the elaborate May Day festivities, which included a Queen of the May as well as her attendants and a herald.
1917: Mount Ida begins to offer Junior College courses, against the Massachusetts public high school officials’ wishes.
1920: The Silent Shield is explained in the yearbook as being the school’s crest. “In Mount Ida’s seal of gold, a silent book is open to all—to the girls, the teachers, the whole wide world.”
1926: George Franklin Jewett dies and Abigail Jewett takes over running Mount Ida. After his death, right before the Great Depression, Mount Ida would already begin to struggle financially.
1931: The Depression hits Mount Ida very hard and enrollment drops off.
1935: Mount Ida does not reopen for classes in the fall.
1936: The Mount Ida School for Girls and Jewett family’s private property is sold at auction from the three buildings. The bank threatens to foreclose on the property. Abigail Jewett met with William F. Carlson and F. Roy Carlson to transfer the name and “goodwill” of Mount Ida, but not the property itself. LaSell was getting both students and some of the faculty from Mount Ida from the closure.
1937: The Carlsons find Boulder Farm in Newton Centre for the first time and William Carlson sees its potential as a junior college for women. The buildings of the Mount Ida School for Girls in Newton Corner are condemned; the State Department for Public Safety ruled that no wooden buildings could be used for buildings and no wooden buildings over two stories high were permitted for dormitories.
1939: Upon discovery that back taxes had not been paid to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the previous Mount Ida School for Girls (the charitable corporation end) Treasurer, the Carlsons had to pay the back taxes in order to do business as a corporation. Boulder Farm is bought by the Carlsons. School is reopened by William Carlson, relocated to Newton Centre from Newton Corner on the Shaw estate. It now sits on a plateau instead of the hill from which the school derives its name.
1946: Dr. Carlson urges the Trustees to work towards changing the school’s name. He asks the Clerk of the Corporation to change the name of “Mount Ida, Inc.” to “Mount Ida Junior College” with the necessary paperwork from state officials. The initiative would fail several times over the years.
1960: Dr. William Carlson steps down as President and his son, Dr. Roy Carlson, would be unanimously approved as his successor.
1961: Mount Ida is granted the status of a Junior College.
1965: Mount Ida gymnasts and dancers perform at the New England section of New York City’s World Fair. After their show, the group was escorted to RCA’s soundstage to live record their performance for television.
1967: Mount Ida finally gains the ability to grant Associate Degrees. The class of 1967 were the first to receive degrees.
1968: Mount Ida is fully accredited by the New England Association of Colleges and Schools. The faculty organizes as the Mount Ida Faculty Association with a Faculty Senate and faculty committees.
1969: Dr. William Carlson dies. On October 15, 1969, classes were canceled in support of a “Moratorium” held on the Boston Common as students explored the historical background of US involvement in Vietnam.
1970: Upset by the Kent State murders, students attempted to strike in the middle of finals week in front of Alumnae Hall.
1976: Dr. Roy Carlson steps down as President and his nephew Dr. Bryan E. Carlson takes over. With the rush of male Vietnam veterans applying to school, Mount Ida becomes coeducational. It would still be several years until the college applied for males’ sports with the National Junior College Athletic Association.
1982: Mount Ida is allowed by the Massachusetts Board of Regency to grant three Bachelor degrees. A change of name is filed with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and City of Newton to change the name of the college to Mount Ida College.
1983: Mount Ida’s Liberal Studies program is named one of fifteen important innovations in American higher education by the United States Department of Education
1984: Full accreditation for the first two-year senior degree program in Massachusetts is granted by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
1985: Mount Ida’s first television commercial airs.
1987: Merger with Chamberlayne Junior College, which included Coyne School of Electricity. The first male dormitory opens in the lower floor of Wingate hall, called the Penthouse. Malloy Hall is designated as coed.
1989: The New England Institute joins Mount Ida.
1990: Soccer players Neil Payne of England and Diarmuid Fadden of Ireland are killed in a car crash after celebrating a successful Mount Ida soccer season. A plaque hangs above the entrance of the Student center to honor them and their numbers were retired.
1999: School celebrates Centennial, first Homecoming.
2009: First Graduate-level programs begin.
2012: Barry Brown becomes President.