Paul Dobbs started working at MassArt in 1978 as an assistant in Continuing Education. He was just 25. He came to the position with several years of experience in journalism, having written for the Salem News, and in communications freelance work. Notably in the 70s he wrote a press release marking the gift of a miniature model radio to an Iranian general to thank the general for his order of American-made radios to operate Iranian air-force jets. That general was killed in the Iranian revolution shortly thereafter.
While working in Continuing Education, Paul was able to make both administrative and curricular improvements. After completing a course with Professor Emeritus John Holland he wrote a program for an Apple2e that the CE office used to automate registration. All transactions had previously been on paper. He employed The Graphic Workshop activists Felice Regan and John Hayes as faculty members. He created a course to take advantage of the tall ships coming to Boston Harbor. Maritime painting at the time was not in style so it was a hard fought course offering.
Paul quickly moved up the ranks. By the time he moved over to become the Registrar of the College in 1985, he had been promoted to Associate Dean of Continuing Education. Paul was eager to face new challenges posed by becoming Registrar. On applying for the position he secured references from Marjorie Hellerstein (Liberal Arts), Meg Hickey (Architecture), and Morton R. Godine (Vice President of Administration and Finance). Paul held the position of Registrar for only four years and used much of that time to clean up data and processes in the department. While in the Registrar’s office he worked with then Graphic Designer Professor Bernie LaCasse to design a more attractive, informative, and professional-looking transcript. This transcript design was used for years. After pulling several all-nighters to get grades out on time (and they always were!), Paul was ready to explore a new area of the College.
In 1989 President Bill O’Neil asked Paul what he would like to do next, and Paul responded that in meeting with other Registrars he had learned about Records Management and thought MassArt should be more proactively managing its own records. Bill agreed to let Paul found a Records Management program for the college on the condition that he would also establish an Archive for the college, for which Diana Korzenik (Chair of Education) had been agitating.
So in 1989 Paul founded the college’s Archives/Records Management Program. During his time as archivist/records manager, he twice served as Circulation Manager of the library. In 1989 during his second stint as Circulation Manager, Paul helped the library migrate away from the physical card catalog and adopt a consortium-wide automated library system.
In 2001 Paul was appointed interim Library Director and in 2005 permanent Library Director. As Library Director, among other accomplishments, Paul initiated library instruction in color theory and intellectual property ethics and curated two very successful exhibitions about the history of the college Gaining Perspective: A Visual History of MassArt and Rebellion and Grace: The Graphic Workshop, 1970-1992. He has served on the boards of Fenway Library Consortium, Fenway Libraries Online, and Massachusetts Council of Chief Librarians of Public Higher Education. At FLO he was board vice president and president during a crucial transition from one director to the next. Paul is leaving the College a significant gift in the form of the TJ Lyons type collection, the second largest collection of type in the United States. Together Professor Emeritus Al Gowan and Paul secured this generous donation for the College, which will be ready for its public unveiling early 2016.
The library staff is extremely grateful to Paul who has been the warmest and most generous Director one could hope for. But we’re pleased to think his retirement will allow him more time to grow organic produce, stop crude oil pipelines, bird watch, hike, and rabble rouse.
Gems from the Archives: