Swain School of Design

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The Swain School of Design was a non-profit educational institution that is now part of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth College of Visual and Performing Arts.


Swain began as the "Swain Free School" of New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1881 through the provisions of the will of New Bedford philanthropist William W. Swain. The following year, the school began offering courses in languages, literature, history, education, art, and chemistry free of charge to area residents who could not otherwise afford an education beyond public school. The residents were required to put down a deposit of $10 per semester as a measure of good faith. As the textile industry was increasingly important to the area, the school concentrated on instruction in textile design.

In 1902, the trustees redefined the school mission as a School of Design.

In the 1970s, there were only 100 students enrolled at any time

The May 1970 commencement was a milestone for the school when twelve students earned their Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, the first in Swain's history.

In 1978 Jean Lozinski Became President of Swain School of design. She had a PhD from Yale and is the first woman to be president of an Art University. She ran the college in the black and it was profitable under her tenure. She also taught at the University. She came to Swain School of Design from Boston College where she had been in charge of the art history department. In her tenure the University became fully accredited. She won a board battle run by dissidents who wanted to destroy the University. She retired at 55 years old and went on to Manage Westport's Council on aging for 15 years. She wrote many of the laws that now protect elders whose children steal their property and homes by force! The president who followed her almost bankrupted Swain which is why it was taken over by UMass Dartmouth.

Notable faculty included: David Loeffler Smith, John Osbourne, Severin Haines, Dick Dougherty, Russell Daly, Alphonse Mattia, Jacqueline Block, Benjamin Martinez, Jim Bobrick, Tom Corey, Nicolas Kilmer, Robin Taffler, Leo Kelly, and Marc St. Pierre.

Merger with Southeastern Massachusetts University[edit]

In 1988, the Swain School in New Bedford merged with Southeastern Massachusetts University's College of Visual and Performing Arts. The campus at 1213 Purchase Street was leased by the University from the City of New Bedford until 2001; all other Swain buildings were sold.

In 1991, a new University of Massachusetts structure combined the Amherst, Boston, and Worcester campuses with the Southeastern Massachusetts University and the University of Lowell to form the University of Massachusetts system. Southeastern Massachusetts University (SMU) was renamed UMass at Dartmouth.


  • "Swain School of Design". PantherProUSA. Archived from the original on 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2007-03-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  • "Swain School of Design Alumni Group".
  • "UMass Dartmouth Swain School of Design".