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1940s: World War II

February 8, 2010

On Thursday, Feb. 11, Colorado State will honor the creation of the institution with a Founders Day celebration. After 140 years, the institution now known as Colorado State University, has played an essential role in the development of Colorado and has become one of the nation's leading research universities.

By 1944, the campus looked more like a military base than a college.

Military draft

The 1940s brought about great changes at Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts with the start of the Second World War. Newly appointed President Roy Green began his tenure as the college’s leader in 1940 and attempted to merge the collegiate community with military demands.

Later that fall, the nation’s first peacetime selective service law was enacted, requiring all males between 21-25 years old to register for the draft by Oct. 16. In response, classes were canceled the day of the deadline allowing a campus-wide draft registration to take place.

Training to support war efforts

By 1941, American involvement in the war seemed unavoidable. Colorado A&M responded by offering tuition-free national defense courses through the Department of Engineering along with expanding its ROTC programs. Two years later the campus looked more like a military base than a college.

Colorado A&M served more than 1,500 servicemen during the war through pilot and clerical training and army engineering and veterinarian medicine programs. The influx in students prompted administrators to turn Johnson Hall into barracks and the College Field House into a dining hall.

Training programs offered through the Department of Engineering expanded during the 1940s in response to WWII.

Colorado A&M’s agricultural research knowledge was used throughout the war to help provide war-crops during a farm-labor shortage in 1942.

G.I. Bill of Rights

In 1944, the G.I. Bill of Rights was enacted entitling all veterans to an education paid for by the federal government and as the war ended Colorado A&M saw the greatest surge of applicants in their history. To accommodate the surge of new students the academic calendar was switched from a semester to quarter system.

At the end of the war, Colorado A&M had lost more than 80 former Aggies as well as President Green who passed away in 1948 from heart complications.

Written by Sarah Gianti, CSU Department of Public Relations Intern, Journalism and Technical Communications ‘10.

Contact: Kimberly Sorensen
Phone: (970) 491-0757