RES 1000

 

 

The following are excerpts from 

College For Sale: the Fall and Rise of A Closed College Campus

 

From Chapter One

            Nasson College ended educational activities on May 1, 1983. But while classes had ended, there was still corporate activity at Nasson. The Board of Trustees continued to meet, the office of the Registrar remained open on an “as needed” basis to handle students’ transcript requests and other business. Remaining on the payroll were one dean, one principal business officer, and three other members of the school’s staff.  However, once the students left in May and all known options for a partnership were exhausted, the driver of all events soon became the lawyers (Verrill & Dana and Pierce Atwood).  In a very real sense, operational control and the fate of the college from that point on was in the hands of the attorneys.

            Allen Mapes was Treasurer of the Board when the school closed. He recalls that they did not expect the closing to be forever. Just as Morris did, Mapes believed that another school would be interested in the facility, because he felt they had a gem there. Perhaps a school would want to grab the place, or a research and development branch of a major corporation might be interested. They even talked about moving the state prison there and building a wall around the main part of the campus. They were just looking for some way of bringing life back to the campus. Mapes said he never dreamed it would be closed forever.

            ....

            Curiously, a year after Nasson closed, the word had not gotten around to everyone. That second summer after closing, 600 high school students actually applied for admission to the school for the fall of 1984.  (Of course, experience showed that even if they all could have been accepted, the students’ actual registration rate would have been only a small fraction of the 600.)

            In the midst of all this, in the fall of 1984, Nasson alumni set up a tent on the quad, and about twenty alumni gathered to celebrate Homecoming, as they had always done, and as they would (hopefully) continue to do.

 

From Chapter Two

            Why did Mattar succeed where so many others had failed?  The big difference between Mattar’s plan and all the others was that Mattar put down a cash deposit, which no one else could do, according to creditors’ attorney Hillman. A big component of that was that Mattar needed no third party money, no UDAG grants, no job training funds, no guaranteed tenants. As a result, everyone he needed to talk to was able to assemble in one room; it would not take months to make a deal. Also, since he recognized he did not need the entire campus – no need to obtain the upper campus dorms, Pryor-Hussey, etc. – those properties could be auctioned off and provide additional money for the creditors.  Mattar also made it clear that Nasson was not unique. He said there were other schools that had closed, so he could take his business elsewhere. Also, the creditors, and everyone else, recognized that this really was the last chance to preserve any hope of reopening a college there. And of course, the creditors knew there was no guarantee of who would actually show up to bid, or what they might receive if everything went to auction. Also playing into his success was the eagerness of just about everyone to see him succeed. Certainly, Mattar was seen as the last hope of any chance of saving, or resurrecting, the college. A thorough check into his background might have made some people pause, because his background in saving Central New England College was not quite the great success it appeared to be.  Certain character traits visible at CNEC would come to haunt Nasson.

 

Also From Chapter Two

            All the public efforts were for the sort of educational program described above.  It never was seen to be the kind of college program most people hoped for – full-time boarding students, dorms and meals, sports, clubs, arts organizations, and the like.

            And yet at one point that kind of program was actually considered, at least in part, at least by someone.  A draft of a regular college catalog was produced for the 1985-87 period.  This 74 page document seemed to pick up where the 1983 Nasson catalog left off.  In fact, it identified itself as Volume XXXVIII. (The 1982 catalog was the XXXVII.)  In the section on the history of the college, the current program was described:  “In 1985, in a remarkable resurgence, Nasson College was released from the control of the Bankruptcy Court and had all of its previous powers, rights, authority, licenses, and privileges restored by order of the Federal Courts.  In July of 1985, students were admitted to new Master Degree Programs and excitingly relevant and timely undergraduate programs.”  Undergraduate classes were to be twelve weeks long, and classes were only given 8:00 am to 10:55 am, and 6:00 pm to 9:55 pm.  There was still some recognition of the liberal arts.  “All degree students will participate in the mind-stretching which results from intensive study of the great works of literature, the arts and the social sciences. Success in management requires the ability to think, reason and communicate effectively, as well as a philosophical grounding in ethics and values.”  Required courses for a Bachelor degree included, among various business classes, English Composition, Philosophy (Ethics), American History, Fine Arts, and more.  The course description for Comparative Government was taken almost word-for-word from the 1982-83 catalog.

Whoever was drafting the catalog copied a little too much. “Nasson College is a 10.4 acre campus which includes four dormitories (Marland Hall, Allen Hall, Folsom I & II), athletic facilities, classrooms, offices, computer lab, Shaw Playing Field, Holdsworth Lakeside Park, Little Theatre etc.”  In fact, after the reopening, Shaw Field and Holdsworth Park were no longer part of the school.

            There were academic recognitions contemplated as well.  Dean’s List, George Nasson Scholars, and the Bertha C. Miltmore Alumni award, given each year to a freshman or sophomore student.  There were scholarships available too, such as the Mary Lord Bailey, the Grossman, the Saul Shalit Memorial Scholarship Fund, and others, right out of the 1982 catalog.  Was there really money set aside for these awards?  It seems unlikely, given everything else that described the new school.  Full-time students were to pay $2,600 per term, almost exactly the same as the final year of old Nasson.

            So what happened to all this?  Someone obviously did a lot of work, basically designing a whole new college.  One can only speculate. Most likely, this expansive organization may have been what the town and the Nasson community wanted, but it was not what Mattar wanted. The draft catalog never saw the light of day.

 

       1996:    

        At this point what was left of Nasson College was minimal. There were rumors, there were facts, and there was no way to tell them apart. There was little hope that Nasson alumni would ever be able to establish any kind of permanent home. The Little Theatre was about to be demolished, but it wasn’t. Allen Hall was rumored to have been used by federal agents for live fire training, but it wasn’t. The Dining Commons was about to be torn down, and eventually it would be, but not then. At one alumni gathering on campus, alumni were told that what remained of Nasson College’s records were stored – piled, thrown – in the Dining Commons. With the DC about to be torn down, they had to get out anything and everything they could, or it would all end up in a dumpster, in the trash, in a landfill. Everyone grabbed yearbooks and anything that looked like it might have any historical or sentimental value. There was no place to leave it. Take it home. Take as much as you can. All that was left was trashed. And then there was nothing.

        And things were about to get worse.