1946 – 1948
GI Bill Increases Enrollment
Three hundred trailers placed on and off campus in 1946 helped house the surge of incoming World War II veterans who enrolled as students at UT. Many were aided by the GI Bill, a nickname for the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, which granted stipends covering tuition and expenses for veterans who attended college or trade schools. UT had such a surge of students—7,300 for fall quarter 1946—that new freshmen and sophomores were barred for a quarter and out-of-state applicants were barred for a longer time. From 1945 – 1949, enrollment at UT more than quadrupled. By 1947, enrollment topped 12,000 students. This influx gave the campus a new appearance. Registration for classes in 1946 was a marathon event, as students stood in line for hours in front of Alumni Gym (later named Alumni Memorial Building). Course sections swelled out of control, putting classroom space at a premium. One freshman English class was scheduled to meet in a room in the biology building that turned out to be an elevator shaft. While UT waited for funds to build new classrooms and hire new faculty members, the board of trustees extended classes from 8 am until 5:50 pm without a noon lunch break. Later that year, UT received nearly $9 million for new building projects and operating funds. Demand for student housing also transformed the campus landscape. Trailer villages were constructed on the Hill, dubbed Hillside Village, and on the agricultural campus, called Kingston Pike Village. UT flung up prefabricated barracks and other temporary structures on campus as well. A prefab building south of Ayres Hall served as a much-needed student center. Off campus, Sutherland Village was also home for veterans and their families. By 1948, the five wave of postwar graduates walked in UT commencement ceremonies.