Students at Mary Randall Preschool participate in Pledge of Allegiance

Mary Proctor Randall Preschool

Hillsdale College

An educational “model for the nation” for nearly 100 years.

Founded in 1929, originally under the name of Hillsdale College Nursery School, the school was requested by one of the College’s psychology professors with the aid of the Women Commissioners. It was created to be a lab school where college students could observe child development in a natural setting. After several years of being located in the basement of Mauck Hall, in 1967 the school moved to its current building on Hillsdale Street. The preschool was renamed Mary Randall Preschool after 1906 alumna Mary Proctor Randall. The building is unique with its circular structure and domed roof. The preschool has playrooms, a kitchen, an observation balcony, and an outdoor playhouse named after beloved Elizabeth Dickinson, “Miss D,” who led the preschool for nearly 40 years. Children are taught by members of the College’s Education Department. Qualified students can obtain course credit for supervised instruction at the preschool.

Teacher reading to Mary Randall Preschool students


The Hillsdale College Nursery School was established in 1929 by the Women Commissioners and Psychology Professor Dr. David Trout and originally located in the basement of Mauck Hall.

The pioneering program, the first of its kind at a Michigan college, not only provided a place of learning for the very young, but also served as a situation in which College students interested in education, psychology, sociology, and home economics could observe small children. Hillsdale’s program was the only one chosen among Michigan colleges for affiliation with the Merrill-Palmer School in Detroit, known for its groundbreaking research in child development.

Elizabeth Dickinson, fondly known to generations of youngsters as “Miss D,” led the nursery school for nearly forty years, starting in 1946. In 1999 the Women Commissioners dedicated a playhouse on the grounds of Mary Proctor Randall Preschool to the memory of “Miss D” for her kind influence on hundreds of young children.


Mary Proctor Randall Preschool is operated by Hillsdale College through its education department. The preschool’s director as well as the head teachers of the preschool’s morning and afternoon sessions teach early childhood education courses. College students enrolled in these courses meet course requirements by working with preschool children under the immediate supervision of their college instructors.