All of us in the Bentley University community were saddened to learn of the passing of Chancellor and President Emeritus Gregory H. Adamian on November 21st, 2015. Mr. Adamian served as Bentley’s fourth president from 1970-1991, and he navigated Bentley through decades of tremendous growth and change. This memorial exhibit highlights some of President Adamian’s formative work at Bentley, and contains a number of photographs and documents that help illuminate his life.
Dr. Gregory H. Adamian was born in Somerville, MA to Sandy and Adam Adamian on September 17th, 1926. He was raised in Brooklyn, NY and attended Midwood High School. He graduated with his B.A. from Harvard University in 1947, after pausing his studies for a year to serve the Navy as a navigation officer in the Pacific Southwest.
In 1951, Dr. Adamian received his juris doctorate from the Boston University School of Law, and then earned an M.P.A. at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. After many years of prestigious education, Dr. Adamian began to practice law in 1952 and soon after began serving as a lecturer at Suffolk University. In 1955 his relationship with Bentley began, as he became a part-time lecturer in economics and business law. He continued to practice law during his professorship, and by 1965 he was chair of Bentley’s Law Department.
He was elected President of Bentley College in 1970 and immediately began the effective, enthusiastic work he would be known for in the ensuing decades. This exhibit focuses on Dr. Adamian’s time at Bentley, but his contributions remained far-reaching throughout his life. He was known particularly for his involvement in the Armenian community, working with local Armenian parishes and organizations, and helping to establish the Committee for the Resettlement of Armenians in the United States. He also worked with organizations involved in higher education; he served as the chairman for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, and as a board member for the Massachusetts Higher Education Assistance Corporation.
Dr. Adamian is survived by his wife Deborah, sons Douglas and Daniel, and five granddaughters.
“…rest assured that I am keenly cognizant of the trust and responsibility you have placed upon me by your vote of confidence electing me as the fourth President of Bentley College.Together we will rise to the challenge of the Seventies and forge ahead to continue the success of Bentley College in even wider horizons.”
Above are photographs and documents from the inauguration. President Adamian assumed leadership of Bentley nine years after its accreditation as a four-year college, and just two years after its historic move to Waltham. A new identity for the school was still in the making, and much of it would be defined by President Adamian’s tenure.
One of Dr. Adamian’s first acts as president was the establishment of a regular President’s Newsletter. The first of these newsletters can be seen in the next photo. Its purpose was to keep all Bentley community members in the know about new developments at the school, and was a valuable resource during a time of great change.
Through all of this development, President Adamian’s focus remained squarely on the Bentley students. He often spoke of wanting to offer them the most comprehensive and valuable education available. As a former professor, he understood the importance of fulfilled, engaged students.
In a 1976 article he speaks about the value of providing business students with a liberal education. He says,
“Our aim is to have persons educated in the business area who are cognizant of life and all its ramifications. We used to tell students ‘after we teach you everything about money, we teach you money isn’t everything.'”
The practical, financial future of Bentley was also very important to President Adamian, who had seen firsthand the educational caliber of the school and wanted to ensure its continued success.
He worked tirelessly to increase Bentley’s endowment and raise funds for the new programs and facilities that would make Bentley even greater. During a particularly successful period in the 1980’s, the Bentley campus saw significant expansion. Athletic facilities were improved and new dorms like Collins Hall, then known as Brook Hall, were built.
Administrative and educational facilities also grew with the addition of the Rauch Administration Center and the Graduate Center. On the occasion of President Adamian’s retirement in 1991, the Graduate Center was renamed the Adamian Academic Center in his honor.
The Bentley President’s House was also built in the early 1980’s. In a photo above, President Adamian and his wife Deborah, the house’s first occupants, celebrate its completion.
In a letter to the Class of 1979, President Adamian speaks to the development that has already occured at Bentley, and the innovations he hopes to see in the future. He says,
“Many of these changes were brought about with significant advice and help from you, the students. As this College has shaped and molded your knowledge and character, so too have you contributed to what is excellent and enduring in this institution today. For years to come students at Bentley will profit and benefit from the changes you helped to create.
I hope that you will always regard yourselves as sons and daughters of Bentley College… I hope that you will always maintain your interest and loyalty to the College, and that what happens to Bentley in the future will always be important to [you].”
In 1991, Dr. Adamian made the decision to retire after 21 years of devoted service as Bentley’s fourth President. When he transitioned into the presidency from his role as a professor in 1970, Bentley had only recently opened its doors in Waltham. As he left, enrollment at the school had doubled, Bentley had a thriving graduate school, and all students had the opportunity to engage with a robust liberal arts curriculum supported by modern technology.
On the left, President Adamian announces his plans to retire in the 1990 Annual Report. He said that he took “tremendous pride in the exciting and gigantic advances” made during his tenure, and that he looked forward to his last year in office “with unconstrained enthusiasm and unflagging commitment.”
Upon his retirement in 1991, President Adamian received honorary degress from both Bentley and Boston University.
The trustees of Bentley asked that President Adamian continue to serve as Chancellor and President Emeritus, and he was a dedicated voice for Bentley as an ambassador and a fundraiser. As the college entered another significant fundraising effort in the early 1990s, President Adamian proved invaluable in continuing to secure the future well-being of Bentley.
He retired from the Board in 2002, and was given the title of Trustee Emeritus. His relationship with Bentley, however, did not end. He was a regular fixture at Bentley Commencement, proudly attending every ceremony from 1955 to 2015. He was also a respected member of the higher education community, continuing to contribute his knowledge and enthusiasm through his later years.
Brilliant professor, visionary president, pioneering chancellor and esteemed trustee, you have contributed enormously to all aspects of Bentley College. Your extraordinary devotion and tireless effort, spanning six decades, established a foundation on which your successors have built, and will continue to build, far into the future. This board, and indeed the entire Bentley community, has benefited in countless ways from your professional wisdom, abiding love for the college and true concern for the people who study, teach and work here.
– Excerpted from Resolution of the Bentley Board of Trustees, 2002
09/17/1926 – 11/21/2015