It was founded in 1912 as Nasson Institute and changed its name twenty-three years later, in 1935 . It closed in 1983, after which its in-town campus sat vacant well into the 1990s.
As the Nasson Institute, the college operated as a two-year Women's program. It became a four-year college in 1935, turning co-ed in 1952.
After turning co-ed, Nasson quickly grew into a well-respected, four-year accredited liberal arts college, reaching a student enrollment of over 900 in the late 1960s. Nasson offered majors in such fields as Biology, English, Environmental Science, Government, History, Mathematics, Medical Technology, and many more subjects.
On a 280-acre (1.13 km2) campus in the village of Springvale, ME, the campus included a learning resources center housing the library (115,000 volumes, and 950 current periodicals), audio-visual services, and more; a science center equipped with a rooftop greenhouse, radiation laboratory and laboratories for the sciences, a gymnasium, little theatre, dining commons, classroom buildings, health clinic, and student center. Nasson also had a total of 11 living units ranging from small frame houses to large dormitories.
The New Division
In 1963, President Roger C. Gay proposed the possibility of having one or more colleges, under the control of Nasson College. The planning and preparation began, and in the fall of 1966 the New Division, an experimental college became a reality. The aim was to provide a liberal education involving extensive student participation in social, academic and discipline policy; independent study in provinces of knowledge, not in individual courses. The New Division operated from a separate, newly constructed building located west of the original campus, containing both housing and community facilities.
The realities of operating two substantially different educational models (the old and new divisions) under the same college umbrella resulted in substantial internal conflict at Nasson, primarily voiced by faculty members at the old division. As a result, the New Division's autonomy was rescinded in 1969. Most New Division faculty and students left for other alternative institutions, and the program was formally ended the following year. The shakeup also saw Gay's removal as college president.
Many students arrived in the Fall of 1970 expecting to be joining the New Division, only to find that it was gone, and they were at a rather old fashioned college. Most left quickly, helping to lead to the end of Nasson.
Faced with declining enrollment (due to the close of the New Division) and financial pressures, Nasson College eventually closed in 1983. Most of the buildings on the original campus are now being adaptively reused for other purposes. The three buildings located on the west campus (including the New Division building) were obtained in the 1990s by a group hoping to establish a preparatory school on the site; building renovations were only partially completed, however, and in 2008 the property was for sale.