Salem State University

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Salem State University
Salem State University logo.svg
Former names
Salem Normal School, Salem Teachers College, Salem State College
Established1854; 167 years ago (1854)
Endowment$18,203,193 (2014)[1]
PresidentJohn Keenan
ProvostDavid Silva
Academic staff
756 (full- and part-time)
Undergraduates6,273 (2019)[2]
Postgraduates1,433 (2019)[3]
Location, ,
United States

42°30′11″N 70°53′34″W / 42.503113°N 70.892643°W / 42.503113; -70.892643Coordinates: 42°30′11″N 70°53′34″W / 42.503113°N 70.892643°W / 42.503113; -70.892643
Campussuburban, 115 acres
ColorsBlue and Orange    
View of North Campus from Meier Hall, with the library on the left, library quad and Ellison Campus Center in the foreground, and Bowditch Hall in the back

Salem State University is a public university in Salem, Massachusetts. It was established in 1854 as Salem Normal School. As of 2013, Salem State enrolled 7,664 undergraduate and 1,637 graduate, full- and part-time students, from 27 states and 57 foreign countries. The university offers bachelor's and master's degrees in the arts and sciences, Master of Business Administration, and Post Masters Certificates in more than 40 academic disciplines. In addition, the university also offers continuing education courses for credit and non-credit.


Salem State University was founded in 1854 as the Salem Normal School under the guidance of Horace Mann. The Salem Normal School is the fourth normal school to open in Massachusetts, and only the tenth to open in the United States. Initially, the school was a 2-year, post-secondary educational institution reserved for women. In 1898, the school became co-educational by enrolling its first group of male students that September.

In 1896 the school relocated to its current location in South Salem (to the building known today as the Sullivan Building). A few years later the Horace Mann Laboratory School was opened. With the construction of a more formal campus, the school was able to lengthen its curriculum to a 4-year study program in 1921. The first bachelor's degree program was in commercial education. In 1932, the school was renamed Salem Teachers College and kept that name until 1960.

In 1960, the school was again renamed, to Salem State College. Salem State's physical campus, restricted to North Campus at the time, developed quite rapidly during the 1960s under the leadership of President Frederick Meier. Peabody and Bowditch Halls were built on North Campus in 1965. Bowditch hall reflected the trends of multiple-story building construction during the first half of the Cold War, with a fallout shelter being built under the building with a capacity of 985 people. Meier Hall was also constructed in 1965, and the Ellison Campus Center shortly thereafter in 1966. Throughout the 1970s, the school continued to expand its physical campus by constructing a new library, the O’Keefe Athletic Center, and by purchasing the land for what is today known as South Campus.

In the mid-1990s, the college moved forward with purchasing a 37.5-acre industrial site on Loring Avenue. The site was formerly home to a lightbulb plant owned by the General Telephone & Electronics Corporation, formerly Sylvania Electric Products. When GTE decided to exit the electrical equipment market, they sold off their former factory to Salem State. That site, is today known as Central Campus. It houses the Bertolon School of Business and three residence complexes: Viking Hall, Marsh Hall and Atlantic Hall.

On July 26, 2010, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that changed the name of institution to Salem State University. The name change became official on October 26, 2010.


Salem State University comprises six academic sub-units:[5]

  • Bertolon School of Business (3 departments)
  • College of Arts and Sciences (20 departments)
  • Maguire Meservey College of Health and Human Services (3 departments, 2 schools: School of Nursing, School of Social Work)
  • School of Education (2 departments)
  • School of Continuing and Professional Studies
  • School of Graduate Studies

The university is also home to the Salem State University Honors Program, an approved constituent of the statewide Massachusetts Commonwealth Honors Program.[6]

Honor societies[edit]

In addition to hosting chapters of various disciplinary honor societies, e.g. Delta Mu Delta for business students, the university hosts chapters of two national cross-disciplinary honor societies:

Global partnerships[edit]

Salem State University has partnered with several universities in the People’s Republic of China through a consortium overseen by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, AASCU,[7] including a cohort-based program in English with students from Nanjing Normal University.[8] The university has also entered into partnership with four other international institutions: [9]


Edward Sullivan Building at the intersection of Lafayette Street and Loring Avenue.

Salem State University is divided into six unique campuses totaling a land-mass of 115 acres with approximately thirty-three buildings.[10] The main campus (North Campus) is located about a mile south of downtown Salem at the intersection of Lafayette Street and Loring Avenue. Within short walking distance from north campus is central campus, south campus, the School of Social Work, and the Richard O'Keefe Athletic Center. The university also operates a maritime facility at Cat Cove on the Salem harbor; located a mile north of the main campus.

North Campus

Walkway in front of Bowditch Hall in springtime.

North campus is the largest of the five campuses. The majority of the university's arts and science programs are housed within the two academic buildings on north campus; the Edward Sullivan Building and Frederick Meier Hall. A focal point of North campus is the George H. Ellison Campus Center which houses the career and counseling centers as well as a number of student organizations.[11] Freshman resident students are housed on north campus in two identical residence halls, Peabody and Bowditch. Other facilities on North campus include the Frederick E. Berry Library & Learning Commons, North Dining Commons and Sophia Gordon Performing Arts Center. The Horace Mann Laboratory School stood on North Campus until 2018, when it was moved to the site of the former Nathaniel Bowditch Elementary School in Salem.

Central Campus

Central Campus Looking Northwest from Marsh Hall.

Central campus is the second largest of the five campuses. The Bertolon School of Business, the music department, and the communications department are all housed in the one academic building on central campus, the Classroom Building. Three residence halls, Marsh, Viking and Atlantic house residents, with all residents having a choice of where they want to live. A focal point of central campus is the university's Enterprise Center (small business center). Other facilities on central campus include the campus bookstore, admissions center, campus police station, recital hall, and the university's baseball field and tennis courts.

South Campus

Alumni Hall on Upper South Campus.

South campus houses the university's College of Health and Human Services. The School of Nursing and the criminal justice department are housed in the two academic buildings on south campus; the Kevin B. Harrington Building and the Academic Building. Junior and senior resident students are housed on south campus in the Bates Residence Complex. Other facilities on south campus included the Alumni House and the Center for International Education.

School of Social Work

The Salem State School of Social Work is located at 297 Lafayette St., just a short walk from North Campus. It is a former synagogue purchased by the University in 2014, and houses many of the classes for the School of Social Work.

Richard O'Keefe Athletic Center

The O'Keefe Center houses the Sport and Movement Science department and the university's athletic department. Facilities include Twohig Gymnasium, Rockett Ice Arena, Alumni Field, the Gassett Fitness Center, and the swimming pool.

Cat Cove Maritime Facility

Salem State operates a maritime facility at Cat Cove on the Salem harbor. The facility is used to provide interactive, hands-on educational experience for students majoring in marine biology. In the past, Cat Cove has been used to study local shellfish.


Salem State University athletic teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Vikings are a member of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC).

Student life[edit]

There are more than seventy student organizations on campus, which are divided into categories: academic affiliated groups, interest groups, performance groups, programming oriented groups, religiously affiliated groups, social and cultural groups, student governing groups, and student media groups. Student organizations are financially supported through a mandatory student fee of $30.00 per semester overseen by the Student Government Association. Undergraduate students are elected to the Student Government Association for one-year terms through an election process during the spring semester. The majority of student organizations are housed in the George H. Ellison Campus Center on North campus.


The university is led by an eleven-member board of trustees. The governor appoints nine trustees to five-year terms, renewable once. The Alumni Association elects one trustee for a single five-year term and the student body elects one student trustee for a one-year term.[12] In 2017, the university's trustees selected John D. Keenan as the 14th president of the university. He began in this position in August 2017, with a formal inauguration in January 2018.[13]

The university's annual operating budget for fiscal year 2010 was approximately $130 million; 40% of this coming from state appropriations. The Salem State University Foundation's endowment market value is in excess of $16 million at the end of fiscal year 2010.[10] The university has an important economic impact on the city of Salem, being its second largest employer. The college generated more than $376 million in economic spending in Massachusetts in fiscal year 2006. Salem State University creates jobs for 3,459 Massachusetts residents, including 593 in Salem and 1,978 throughout Essex County.[10]

Speaker series[edit]

The Salem State University Speaker Series was established in 1982 with former President of the United States Gerald Ford as the series' first guest.[14] Since the conception of the Speaker Series, the university has hosted political leaders, activists, and celebrities to share their stories with Salem residents and the surrounding North Shore community. Past speakers have included former Presidents of the United States Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush; Congressman John F. Tierney; television host and comedian, Jay Leno; head coach of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick; quarterback of the New England Patriots, Tom Brady; baseball legend, Cal Ripken Jr.; award-winning actor and director, Robert Redford; and poet, Maya Angelou.

Notable alumni[edit]

Creative and performing arts[edit]


  • Charlotte Forten Grimké (1856) – anti-slavery activist, educator, first African-American teacher to travel south during the American Civil War
  • Ida M. Eliot (1867) – educator, philosopher, writer

Government and politics[edit]




  1. ^ "Salem State University". U.S. News & World Report.
  2. ^
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  10. ^ a b c "Facts & Figures". Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  11. ^ "Campus Center". Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  12. ^ "Board of Trustees". Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  13. ^ John Laidler, Keenan to be inaugurated as Salem State president, The Boston Globe, January 11, 2018.
  14. ^ UPI Archives Nov. 5, 1982

External links[edit]