A Look Back Through Time


1873 The College of Liberal Arts is founded, with Rev. John W. Lindsay appointed first dean. It is located at 20 Beacon Street.
187379 The School of Oratory, a department of CAS and housed in the same building, includes faculty member Alexander Graham Bell, who teaches “Culture of the Speaking Voice.” A paid year’s leave allows him to perfect a medium for transmission of speech over wires. The first public transmission is from that building to the Atheneum Reading Room.
1874 The School of All Sciences (later, graduate school) opens. John W. Lindsay is appointed acting dean.
1877 Helen Magill, who was the only female in her class at Boston Public Latin school, earns her PhD in Greek, the first woman to earn a doctorate in the United States.


1881 Alice Stone Blackwell, daughter of famous suffragist Lucy Stone, graduates from CAS with honors and as class president (she received an honorary degree from BU in 1945).
1886 Founding of Klatsch Kollegium, an annual CAS festival involving students and, often, faculty. Continued until 1954.


1891 CAS Class of 1891 creates a yell: “B.U. Boom la la! / Nonaginta Una! / Ya! Ya! Ya!”
1896 The Men’s Club of 1896 was founded “on account of the comparative weakness in numbers of the male contingent of the College of Liberal Arts.”


1903 A Bostonia report states that although study in France would be good for students, most prefer to go to Germany because it is beneficial for their careers.
1907 Initiation of the system of having majors and minors.


1910 The School of All Sciences is renamed the graduate school. The matriculation fee is $10 for the MA and $25 for the PhD.
1914 After discussion of a need for a dean of women, Agnes Black, professor of elocution in CAS, is appointed Advisor of Women.
191719 World War I: CAS is very involved in war work. It provides training for women to become sick room assistants, has groups of students working with faculty volunteers to study issues related to the war; offers a course on Red Cross work; collects books for soldiers; women students knit sweaters for soldiers. CAS student council passes resolutions condemning Germany and support President Wilson.


1923 CAS holds world fellowship week with speakers to discuss “the race question.”
1924 Admissions pressure on CAS is so great that it has to turn away 100 students hoping for admission.
1924 Hazing of CAS students requires that freshmen have to wear red caps, girls wear braids with green ribbons.
1924 Lucy Jenkins Franklin (CAS 1883, MA, PhD) is inducted as the first dean of women.


1934 CAS (unusually) has more male than female students.
1936 Founding of the Department of Psychology, drawing together other separate departments.


194145 World War II: Only three of 11 men’s dorms at BU are occupied; students participate in war work; regular activities such as orchestras and bands stop because of lack of male students. Thirty one members of the Class of 1946 died; they received their degree posthumously.
1944 CAS begins to plan for a post-war curriculum including, especially, a better foreign area and language curriculum and higher standards and more intense courses. We should expect two hours of preparation for each hour of lecture.


1951 Enrollment in Russian language has increased by 100% since the start of the Korean War.
1955 Martin Luther King, Jr. receives his PhD in systematic theology.


1965 Representative Adam Clayton Powell (D-NY) speaks in CAS on “the legislative politics of desegregation.”
1965 Numerous discussions and teach-ins on the Vietnam War, often with the participation and leadership of Professor Howard Zinn.
1968 Howard Zinn travels to North Vietnam to arrange for the release of captured pilots. He says that North Vietnam will negotiate when the bombing stops.


1970 CAS and BU students join in the national unrest over the war in Vietnam. The student union calls a two-day strike in February; and 5080% of students skip classes.
1975 Elie Wiesel accepts a permanent appointment as the Andrew W. Mellow Professor in the humanities with his base in the University Professors and the Department of Religion.


1982 Founding of the Department of Archaeology, the only stand-alone archaeology department in the United States.
1984 CAS achieves the $100 million mark in grants.


1996 The College of Liberal Arts is renamed the College of Arts & Sciences.
1997 Professor of English and Creative Writing Robert Pinsky is named US Poet Laureate.


2006 In his Strategic Plan, President Robert A. Brown commits to “strengthening the College of Arts and Sciences as central to the quality of our academic programs,” and looks forward to growth in the size of the faculty by as many as 100 positions in ten years.
2007 Virginia Sapiro is appointed the 12th dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and dean of the graduate school—the first woman to occupy those positions.
2009 A CAS Task Force on the First Year Experience submits a report that provides a blueprint for future development of a first year experience to support student integration and success.


2011 BU signs an “in perpetuity agreement” and makes a $10 million investment to become a partner in the 4.3 meter Discovery Channel Telescope in Arizona, extending its partnership with the Lowell Observatory for the benefit of BU astronomy researchers and students.
2013 Bombs explode at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Among the witnesses, injured, and helpers are many BU student, faculty, and staff. Statistics graduate student Lingzi Lu is killed by the explosion, and a fellowship fund is established in her name.
2014 Founding of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies within the College of Arts & Sciences, incorporating the former Department of International Relations and the many BU area studies programs. Adil Najam is appointed the first dean.
2015 Ann Cudd is appointed the 13th dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and dean of the graduate school.
2019 Stan Sclaroff is appointed the 14th dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and dean of the graduate school.
Compiled by Virginia Sapiro, Daniel Plucinsky (CAS’13), and Rachel Klepper (CAS’13)