History from 1930-49


  • Psycho-Educational Clinic, the first of its kind in Michigan outside Detroit, is established.


Jr. High Club members photo from the 1932 yearbook.

Junior High Club members photo from the 1932 yearbook.

  • Psycho-Educational Clinic begins to administer psychological and scholastic aptitude tests to all students entering Western.
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation begins sending southwest Michigan children and adults to Psycho-Educational Clinic for psychological and academic assessment and treatment.


  • One result of the depression is that dropping enrollment and a great reduction of state revenues makes the dismissal of some Western teachers necessary.
  • Feb. President Waldo makes an auto trip to Lansing to pick up the money to pay the teachers.
  • Spring. Newly elected democratic governor tries to oust President Waldo, whom he has accused of hiring only republicans. The charge is proven untrue and Waldo is retained.


An aerial view of campus in 1933.

An aerial view of campus in 1933.

  • State Board of Education authorizes teachers colleges to grant general degrees of bachelor of arts and bachelor of science to those students not preparing to teach.
  • When the Michigan governor, who is not sympathetic to higher education, announces he favors closing Western, President Waldo and his assistant, Paul V. Sangren, devise a successful six-part campaign to convince the governor to keep Western open.
  • Western Michigan University develops a two-year non-teaching degree in the Division of Vocational and Practical Arts.


  • Jan. 30. The state Senate votes to keep Western open.
  • Western requires four-year course for life certificate in teaching.


  • Speech Correction Clinic started.
  • Western adopts occupational therapy curriculum, but not as part of the education department.
  • Western offers its first special four-year non-teaching course.
  • Sept. 1. All life certificate teachers now compelled to have four years of college.
  • Sept. 1. Paul V. Sangren becomes Western’s second president, a post he holds until June 30, 1960.


  • State study finds its secondary school curriculum in need of vocational training and student guidance.
  • Division of Student Personnel and Guidance established.
  • Spring. First annual conference on guidance (for high school teachers) held on campus.
  • Summer. Western offers first course in guidance.
  • Manual arts department renamed industrial arts department.
  • Western is first Michigan college to offer a course in audio-visual education.


  • Summer. Faculty series of conferences to discuss curriculum revision and reorganization in accordance with John Dewey’s Progressive Education Movement.
  • Sept. Western changes from terms to semesters.
  • Speech correction added to special education.
  • Nov. 9. State Board of Education approves building of Health and Personnel building.


East Hall at night, pre-1948.

East Hall at night, pre-1948.

  • Western changes its nickname from the Hilltoppers to the Broncos.
  • Feb. Western forms its graduate division and in cooperation with the University of Michigan, begins its first graduate program, in teacher education. One of the first courses offered is to train teachers to become guidance workers.
  • 1939-42. Western is one of seven American teachers colleges to participate in a major national study of teacher education. The study eventually leads to important changes in Western’s offerings and organization.
  • Curriculum Bureau renamed Textbook Library and becomes available for use by college students.
  • The 1939-40 Bulletin lists two religious education courses in the Department of Education.
  • Western initiates the vocational aviation mechanical department, stating "A modest beginning necessitated sharing the general shop equipment with the industrial arts department."


  • Mechanical Trades building constructed.
  • Junior high and senior high curricula combined as secondary curriculum.
  • The education and psychology department is separated into the education department and the psychology department.
  • The handwriting department is discontinued.
  • Vocational aviation mechanics separates from industrial arts.
  • Faculty Committee on Defense formed to consider the institutional problems caused by the international situation.


  • Director of Summer School named (had previously been conducted by a committee).
  • Dec. 7. Committee on Defense renamed the War Council.
  • With the advent of World War II, most on-campus housing is soon occupied, for the rest of the war, by 900 Navy men and Marines stationed at Western for training.


  • The teacher training department becomes part of the education department.
  • The commerce department is renamed business education.
  • All-day faculty conference on the war and its relation to higher education.
  • Psycho-Educational Clinic begins testing and interviewing all prospective nursing students for Bronson Methodist Hospital.
  • Early and later elementary curricula combined as elementary curriculum.
  • The Theatre, a music and dramatic arts building, is constructed for The Players.
  • 1942-46. Western acquires five residential houses (on Walwood Place between Walwood Hall and East Hall), which are used during the war to house freshman women. Later, home economics uses one as a “practice house” for in-residence requirement for students in its home management semester .
  • Trimester plan (sixteen-week terms) introduced, because Navy makes no provision for long furloughs.


  • Western adopts a new motto: "That all may learn."
  • Psycho-Educational Clinic opens a reading laboratory to give individualized assistance to Western students.


  • Western groups its academic departments into academic divisions. Those that will continue in some form into the twenty-first century’s College of Education are the divisions of teacher education, physical education and vocational education.
  • Rural education department renamed rural life and education.
  • Western establishes a Veterans Counseling and Guidance Center in anticipation of WWII veterans entering college under the G.I. Bill of Rights.
  • Nov. 1. Teacher Education Division assumes control of veterans’ vocational school at Pine Lake—for rehabilitation of disabled veterans.


  • Librarianship becomes a department entirely separate from the library department. Its function is to prepare librarians for small rural and local libraries.
  • Department of Industrial Arts renamed Department of Industrial Arts Education.


Elementary school students in 1947.

Elementary school students in 1947.

  • New master's degree (in cooperation with University of Michigan) curriculum introduced in Pupil Personnel and Guidance.
  • The 1947-48 Bulletin of Western Michigan Teachers College lists the following divisions: Fine Arts; Languages and Literature; Physical Education and Health (Physical Education for Women, Physical Education for Men); Science and Mathematics; Social Sciences; Teacher Education (includes the departments of Education, Librarianship and Rural Life and Education); Vocational Education (consists of departments of Business Education, Home Economics, Industrial Arts and Education).


  • New curriculum in librarianship prepares elementary and secondary teacher-librarians for state provisional certificates.
  • 1948-49 Bulletin lists all academic divisions as now having permanent chairmen and two with name changes: Division of Physical Education, Health and Recreation; and Division of Vocational and Practical Arts Education.
  • Surplus national government war materials obtained to erect temporary building known as the Physical Education Annex.
  • Graduation in 1948.

    Graduation in 1948.

    Training school addition completed, which links the training school (south section of present East Hall) with the administration building (center section of East Hall), where the high school classes had been housed.
  • High school and training school combined and renamed Campus School.
  • Campus School cafeteria opens.
  • Department of Industrial Arts Education absorbs trade and industrial education and renamed Department of Industrial Arts Education.
  • Manual arts renamed vocational industrial arts.


  • 1949-71. Psycho-Educational Clinic conducts reading demonstrations for teachers and reading therapy students.