A half century of change

Monday, April 4, 2005

When members of the class of ‘54 celebrated their 50-year reunion last fall, they came back to a very different campus. In the mid-50s they came to learn teaching, liberal arts or business at St. Cloud State Teachers College. Some of the obvious changes that have taken place on campus over the years:

  • Many more students: In 1950 there were just 1,700 students; now there are more than 15,600 enrolled.
  • More buildings: Stewart Hall was just a year old and Kiehle Visual Arts Center opened when they started here, but 24 other buildings, the library and the new stadium have been added since then.
  • Rules and customs: Back when they were on campus, a young man visiting a “coed’s” dorm could only wait in the front parlor, and if a young lady was brought back after curfew, she was likely to be campused by the dorm mother for her infraction. Now of course there are no curfews and men and women are free to visit all floors.
  • International students: Reunion-goers were reminded that while they were here one of our first students from a foreign country, Razak Danmole, enrolled. The young man from Nigeria arrived at the St. Cloud bus depot with ten cents in his pocket and no overcoat, but faculty and students soon made him feel welcome. Today we have more than 800 students from 85 different countries mingling with students from Minnesota and across the nation.
  • Graduate degrees: During their junior year we won approval to add the school’s first master’s degree program. Currently we offer more than 50 graduate-level programs.
  • Entertainment: Swimming across the icy Mississippi River became a springtime craze for SCSU students in 1952 after Charles Everhard (known as “Great John L”) braved the frigid waters. Each year after the ice melted, a new daredevil greased like a channel swimmer would carry on the tradition A mid-1970s near-drowning ended the practice.
  • Student organizations: The Vets Club and the Married Couples Club were big groups on campus in the post-war years. Now there are more than 200 academic, governmental and social organizations for friendship, leadership andvolunteer opportunities.

Alumni were also reminded that some things about the college experience here haven’t changed. Our students still come here – just as they did – to grow and develop into adults ready to go out on their own. They come to experiment and explore, to discover new ways of thinking, learning, and studying, and to make lifelong friendships.

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