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American International College was founded in 1885 by the Reverend Mr. Calvin E. Amaron, who persuaded other enlightened clergy to assist in the establishment of a college that would provide the youth of his ethnic group, French Canadians, with access to higher education. The founders understood that a college education was an effective means toward economic and social success in American society, and wanted to form a college that would provide an excellent educational preparation and enable its graduates to attain lifelong satisfaction and success.
The Reverend Mr. John Morton Greene, the first president of the new college, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, was a leader fully prepared and committed to the foundation on which AIC would be built. It was he who led the efforts for a charter from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the college to “grant such honorary testimonials and confer such honors, degrees and diplomas as are granted or conferred by any university, college or seminary of learning in this Commonwealth.”
It was, however, the second president and visionary founder, the Reverend Mr. Amaron, who asserted that women should be given the same opportunity as men to pursue higher education. Women were admitted to the college for the first time in 1892, making AIC the first coeducational college in the region.
American International College sought to educate newcomers to the United States and their children for citizenship and success. The college was both American and International. Students learned English, U.S. history, mathematics, and science. Prior to World War I, AIC students came from 42 nations, reflecting a richly diverse student body from Europe, Asia, Africa, and North, Central, and South America. Today we hold to that tradition with students from over 40 countries, making us one of the most diverse colleges.
With the onset of World War I and the subsequent adoption by the U.S. of immigration quota laws, there came an inevitable decrease of immigrant students. During the mid-1920s, the chief goal of the college shifted from the education of immigrant students to providing quality education that could transform the lives of a diverse body of students.
AIC has achieved notable growth since the end of World War II. The establishment of the Evening College and the Summer School provided a springboard for what was to be the rapidly escalating enrollment that started in 1946. Returning veterans swelled classes, and the college added many new faculty and staff members.
Over the following two decades, the progressive development of the curriculum required expanded physical facilities that the campus continues to enjoy to this day. The college, with fully developed curricula in the liberal arts and sciences, business administration, and teacher education, reflected the intimacy of a small college with the curriculum of a large university.
AIC led again with the establishment of a Model Congress in 1941, which continues as the longest running such event in the nation.
The early 1950s witnessed educational innovation with the creation of a training program for a group of skilled artisans from Marshall Aid countries in Europe. Part of the special curriculum included a period for the trainees to work in local industries to learn American production methods. More than 100 people, representing eleven nations, were involved in the program.
In 1953, after conferring with business executives in the area, the college began an evening offering known as the Executive Development Program. This graduate study program was designed for people with executive responsibility and for those who anticipated taking positions in management. Accepted candidates were able to earn a Master of Business Administration degree entirely through evening classes. This program was the first of its kind in the region.
The Schools of Business, Arts & Sciences was established in 1960 and the School of Psychology and Education in 1970.
During the 1960s, American International College experienced substantial growth; 11 new buildings were erected. The 1970s witnessed the addition of Curtis Blake Learning Services, improvements to existing facilities, and the acquisition and beautification of a substantial amount of property on the immediate periphery of the main campus.
AIC became the first college to offer an international business major with its own academic department.
The James J. Shea, Sr. Memorial Library was completed in 1980, and The Karen Sprague Cultural Arts Center and The Esther B. Griswold Theatre for the Performing Arts followed in 1984. An 11,958 square foot addition to the existing Schwartz Campus Center was opened in September 1992. This addition houses the campus store, student lounge, meeting rooms for use by student clubs and organizations, seminar rooms for multi-campus use and an elevator to make the entire campus center handicapped accessible. The Tower portion of the building, which houses the clock tower, carillons, and the Great Hall, was formally dedicated on April 22, 1994, and named in honor of Joseph and Anna Sokolowski by their daughter Sylvia Falconer Lissa ’29. The addition of the 30,000 square foot Courniotes Hall that houses the Divisions of Nursing, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy was the last physical addition to the college in the 20th century. A unique feature of the complex is the 1,800 square foot human anatomical laboratory.
The last 30 years of the 20th century were notable for curricular and program development. During this period, the Division of Nursing, the graduate and undergraduate programs in criminal justice and in special education, the graduate programs in business, clinical psychology, public administration, and human resource development, and the undergraduate programs in management information systems, international business, and communications were developed. Additionally, AIC became the first area college to offer a criminal justice major.
A notable highlight was the introduction of the college’s first doctoral degree. The doctoral program in educational psychology with a specialty in learning disabilities has flourished since its inception.
In 1988, the E. Russell Sprague Endowed Chair for International Business and Economics was established to give further impetus to the international business program and aid in the development of global awareness.
Economic education was promoted by the sponsorship of the Earle A. Griswold Endowed Chair of Free Enterprise.
In 1989, on the occasion of Dr. Harry J. Courniotes’ 20th year of service as president, the Board of Trustees authorized the establishment of an Endowed Chair in the School of Business Administration to be named in his honor, in recognition of his prior twenty-three years of outstanding service as professor and dean in the School of Business Administration and vice president for academic affairs.
Other notable programs in this period were developed by the Curtis Blake Child Development Center in the field of learning disabilities, an area in which the college has attained national recognition.
AIC became the only area college to offer a Master of Science in Accounting and Taxation degree.
In 1998, AIC completed the first phase of the American International Communication Center, equipped with the latest digital television, audio, and video equipment.
A new major in undergraduate physical therapy was introduced in February 1993, augmenting the college’s already strong programs in the sciences and in nursing. The graduate professional program in physical therapy, leading to a Master of Physical Therapy degree, began in September 1996.
In 1996, AIC completed a new 36,000 square foot Health Science Complex to support our occupational therapy, physical therapy, and nursing majors.
The opening of the Edgewood Gardens Residence Suites in September 2004 provided students with apartment living.
President Harry Courniotes retired in June 2005 after serving the college for 59 years, 35 as president.
Dr. Vincent M. Maniaci became president on July 1, 2005.
The doctoral program in physical therapy began in 2005. A baccalaureate degree program in occupational therapy was begun in September 1995, and the Master of Occupational Therapy in September 2000.
During the 2005-2006 academic year, AIC celebrated the 120th anniversary of the founding of the college. Celebrations began during the summer of 2005 with a Founder’s Day (July 18) College Community Picnic, and AIC Day at the Big E on Charter Day, September 18, 2005. Celebratory events continued throughout the academic year.
The 2006-2007 academic year saw continued growth under the leadership of Dr. Vincent Maniaci. Enrollment for undergraduate and graduate students increased dramatically and the retention rate among the students increased dramatically as well.
In 2007 AIC’s entire technological infrastructure was rebuilt from scratch, placing AIC among the most technologically advanced colleges in the U.S.
Dr. Maniaci pledged increased public service commitments. To date, AIC students have logged more than 20,000 hours of public service.
In 2007, planning began for new athletic programs, a new stadium, and more improvements for campus life with the additions of student access areas where people can meet and share ideas.
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