With the return of peace, enrollments soared dizzyingly. In the fall of 1945, the
school opened with just over two hundred students. The enrollment shot up the next
year to a staggering 552 (nearly double the usual enrollment of the college during
its previous most popular period the 1930s), 589 in the fall of 1947, and 605 in
the fall of 1948. The leap in enrollment owes much to the G.I. Bill. In the first
postwar year, only sixteen students were veterans (as might be expected, since demobilization
would not have been completed so soon after the surrender of japan). In june of
1946, Moreland reported to the trustees that the college planned to accept 351 students,
with 169 veterans, but the school was deluged with demands for entrance. Even as
he wrote, with 351 already accepted, there remained 500 inquiries still on file.
In fact, over 550 students, 439 of them veterans, ultimately enrolled. Almost exactly
half of the total enrollment-226-were former students; the other half were new students.
The exact number of returning students who were also veterans is unknown, but probably
a great number of them were. During the war, 896 alumni served in the armed forces-63
percent of them men who had attended the college in the ten years before 1945. As
of june 1945, eighteen were known to have been killed.
The great flood of postwar students put strains upon a college already struggling
to renovate a physical plant inadequate for 250 students. The period between the
end of the Second World War and the beginning of the Korean conflict saw stress,
privation, and makeshifts. For some who made their first acquaintance with the college
in that period, these conditions seemed normative as well as normal. They were not.
The planning and priorities existed; only the financial resources to bring the plans
to life were lacking.
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Reprinted from Professor James Scanlon's Randolph-Macon College: A Southern History