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Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is the public liberal arts college of Massachusetts. As one of the nine state colleges within the Massachusetts Public Higher Education System, it is a small and primarily residential college of approximtely 1,500 undergraduate students and a full-time faculty of 80. Its distinctive purpose is to provide a high quality alternative to private liberal arts institutions at a lower cost.
Surrounded by the beautiful mountains and valleys of Berkshire County, the College is located in North Adams, a city of about 15,500 in the northwest corner of Massachusetts close to Vermont and New York state. North Adams is readily accessible by automobile from all parts of the Commonwealth (Boston is three hours away), eastern New York and southern Vermont, and by regular bus service from Boston, Springfield, New York City, Troy and Albany.
The College was founded in 1894 and was initially known as North Adams Normal School. The campus consisted of two buildings, now known as Murdock Hall and Smith House. In 1932, the Normal School became the State Teachers College at North Adams and was authorized to offer a four-year program leading to the Bachelor of Science in Education. In 1937, graduate courses leading to the degree Master of Education were added to the curriculum. In 1960, the name of the College was changed to North Adams State College, signaling its newly-acquired authorization to also grant degrees in the liberal arts and professional fields. A period of rapid expansion began in 1968 after the establishment of the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts State College System. By 1976, the student body had grown from 800 to over 2,000. As academic programs expanded, the physical plant was enlarged to now comprise 20 buidlings, including a nearby and extensive athletic facility.
Throughout its history, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has stressed the dual importance of liberal education and professional preparation. In 1992, the College reaffirmed this emphasis on a strong liberal arts foundation for its professional programs. In recognition of its commitment to the liberal arts, it was officially named Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts on August 14, 1997.
Special features include selective admission, small classes, individualized attention and academic excellence in an attractive college setting. A challenging curriculum provides flexibility for motivated students to shape their own course of study and encourages them to combine traditional coursework with experiential learning, such as internships, study abroad and other field experiences. Working with a diverse student body in an intellectually challenging environment, MCLA faculty and staff develop liberally educated citizens with the knowledge, perspectives, critical thinking abilities and values necessary to become active members of their communities and leaders in their chosen professions.
To accomplish this mission, we seek to develop curricula that integrate liberal arts and professional studies; affirm the value of excellent teaching and reward scholarly and creative activity; expand opportunities for experiential learning to include field experiences, community service, international programs and independent studies; create a campus community that fosters intellectual, cultural, social and recreational activities that enrich education and where the value and worth of all people are affirmed and celebrated; achieve greater diversity within our faculty, administration, staff and student body; challenge students to succeed and support them in their efforts; and extend our cultural and educational resources to enhance the quality of life in the Berkshires.