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GI Bill sends students to Clarion

Despite all of the consequences of World War II, its aftermath was characterized by a period of progress unprecedented in the annals of American higher education. Clarion was to have more than its share of such prosperity.

A large backlog of potential college students which had built up during the war periods plus the Servicemen's Readjustment Act (June 1944), better known as the "G.I. Bill" brought scores of students to the small teachers college in rural northwestern Pennsylvania. Enrollment mushroomed expanding from 127 in 1944 to 723 in 1949. During 1948 and 1949 over three hundred of these students were veterans. The Pennsylvania State University also suffered from enrollment pressures and formulated an agreement whereby some of their freshmen were "farmed out" to the state teachers colleges. Clarion's quota averaged about one hundred such students per year (1946-1947 to 1950-1951) over and above the regular enrollment figures.

The agreement, made possible by Act 150 of the 1945 Legislative Session, was cited by Andress as follows:

The Pennsylvania State College would:

  • Admit students to their Freshman classes;
  • Assign them to the various State Teachers Colleges;
  • Accept them as sophomores on the successful completion of the freshman curricula offerings prescribed by Pennsylvania State College.

The State Teachers Colleges agreed to:

  • Accept such students as assigned by Pennsylvania State College if they were able to meet also the entrance requirements of State Teachers Colleges;
  • Offer instruction within the limits of plant and personnel which would be comparable to that offered on the campus of Pennsylvania State College;
  • Administer the cooperative program so that Freshman assigned students would be in all ways regular students in the State Teachers Colleges.

Andress and Bonder, in their respective dissertations, noted that this cooperative arrangement was without parallel in the history of American higher education. Bonder stated that "It marked a period of new development for the State Teachers College and proved that the future uses of these institutions were unlimited." Andress characterized the period as one in which they were "...in the process of changing through addition to the original function of teacher education."

The success of the program led the State Teachers College presidents to request state authorization to grant the liberal arts degree. Dr. Chandler had called for such a change in the law in his report to the Board of Trustees dated April 20, 1948.

In the period of post war boom (1946-1951) Clarion ranked eleventh among the State Teachers Colleges in student enrollment. As the flow of veterans to American colleges and universities abated, enrollment at Clarion receded to 412 (1953) then rebounded with the coming of the Korean veteran.