Bay Path University Celebrates 125 Years of Career-focused Learning

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announced the kickoff of a yearlong celebration, marking its 125th year of providing workforce-aligned, career-focused education. Throughout 2022-23, the university will explore its unique history and share goals for the future through the theme “Reimagine: Possibility,” which will highlight Bay Path’s evolution from a local business institute to an innovative university serving diverse populations of learners across the country.

Founded in 1897 in downtown Springfield as the Bay Path Institute, the college has routinely evolved to keep pace with advancing technologies, workforce shifts, and the rise of career opportunities for women. Today, based in Longmeadow, Bay Path University offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees on campus and online to undergraduate women and graduate men and women.

In 1999, it launched the One Day a Week College, a groundbreaking program designed specifically for adult women returning to school. That revolutionary concept formed the basis for the American Women’s College, the nation’s first online college program created for women.

“Bay Path began teaching business skills to men and women. These skills led to in-demand, well-paying jobs, and for women especially, they provided access to unprecedented professional opportunities,” Bay Path President Sandra Doran said. “Following World War II, we moved to Longmeadow and became a women’s school. As women’s opportunities and ambitions have expanded, our mission and motivation to empower them through a career-focused education has grown to 71 undergraduate majors, 51 master’s and seven doctorate degrees, in fields including cybersecurity, occupational therapy, healthcare management, data science, and genetic counseling.”

Bay Path’s history, ties to the region, and goals for the future will be presented through events, conversations, and exhibits, which will be held on campus, in the community, and in virtual formats. The first official event will be “On the Move.” Scheduled for March 22, this annual gathering is organized by Bay Path Professor Janine Fondon and brings together students, community advocates, local politicians, and professionals to inspire participation in the political process. It will be followed by the Women’s Leadership Conference, Bay Path’s renowned professional-development conference, taking place April 1 in downtown Springfield.

The celebration will continue on April 8 with the formal inauguration of Sandra Doran as Bay Path’s sixth president, followed that evening by the 125th Celebration Ball, a black-tie event to support scholarships and services for Bay Path students.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal will serve as an honorary chair of the 125th Celebration, along with Roger Crandall, chairman, president, and CEO of Mass Mutual; Ruth Carter, Academy Award-winning costume designer (Black Panther) and Springfield native; and Charlene Mazer, the first female and alumna to chair Bay Path’s board of trustees. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is the honorary community chair.

“I am delighted to serve as honorary chair for Bay Path University’s 125th anniversary,” Neal said. “Since Bay Path’s founding in 1897, the university has proven itself to be an educational pillar of the Longmeadow and Greater Springfield communities. Bay Path’s continued dedication to providing relevant, career-focused education in new and exciting ways has allowed the university to reach this fantastic milestone. I have been proud to represent Bay Path University in Congress and advocate for their unique educational needs for decades. As we celebrate the university’s impressive legacy and look ahead to the future, I am confident that Bay Path University will continue to empower students for generations to come.”

Added Crandall, “as a company founded in Springfield and deeply committed to Western Massachusetts, MassMutual has long supported higher education in the region, including Bay Path University. For 125 years, Bay Path has provided opportunities that have transformed the lives of generations of students. We are proud to celebrate this milestone with them.”

In recent years, colleges have sought to accommodate changing demographics and incorporate advancing technology, but the pandemic brought a sense of urgency to addressing the outdated structures and deeply ingrained inequities that persist in higher education. The shift to online learning, the changing needs and expectations of today’s college students, and the career compromises women are forced to make — all matters that inform Bay Path’s distinctive educational model and institutional identity — have been amplified throughout this time.

“This milestone comes at a fortuitous moment,” Doran said. “Our unique story and the role Bay Path has had in preparing women to take on — and thrive in — jobs that lead to personal and professional satisfaction, financial self-determinism, and community impact form the foundation of an ambitious strategic plan. We have led the way in creating and delivering an education that gives women valued skills, but also confidence, camaraderie, and drive. These are the principles that have defined our history and will continue to forge our future.”