As the world entered the roaring twenties, so did Southeast. Some of biggest events in school history kicked off the 1920s and continued to form the University we know and love today.

What did campus life look like in the 1920s?

When Joseph Serena became Southeast's eighth president in June of 1921, he banned dancing on campus and also required students to attend chapel three times a week and an assembly once a week.

It was a different time to be a female student. If a woman wanted to go to the movies or ride in an automobile after 5 p.m., it was required that she went with a group of four or have a chaperone. A chaperone was also required if a woman was to go to dinner with a male student. The dean of women declared smoking undesirable for women at the Teachers College in 1921.

By the end of this decade, $40 was all it took to pay student fees for the entire year. 

Welcome back, alumni!

In 1920, Southeast held the first of one of the most well-known campus events: homecoming. The school welcomed back former students and faculty members to remember their time on campus and relish in the many changes that continued to happen. 

President Joseph Serena announced a contest in 1924 to boost school spirit even more. The contest was for original words for a school song. First place in the contest received $5, second place got $3, and third place was awarded $2.          

New buildings on campus

What is now Rosemary Berkel Crisp Hall of Nursing was introduced to campus in May of 1923. The education building featured 450 tons of native stone from a quarry owned by Louis Houck. Also in 1923, the renovation of Wildwood was completed, and the family of President Joseph Serena moved in. The wife of President W.W. Parker is credited with naming the building “Wildwood”.

The school purchased the college farm in February of 1922. 

The original Houck Field House was completed in 1927, which was the original home of Southeast’s basketball teams. The rock quarry where Houck was built was purchased in 1925 for the sum of $11,000, which is equivalent to just under $200,000 today. The Board of Regents voted to name the new atheltic field and gym after Louis Houck in 1926. 

Tragedy in the community

In March of 1927, southeast Missouri and southern Illinois were affected by one of the worst floods in modern history, and the newly completed Houck Field House was used as a shelter for homeless people from Illinois.

When the stock market crashed in 1929, many Americans lost everything they owned, and the Great Depression began. Faculty salaries were cut by 15-20%, and enrollment dropped because fewer families could afford to send their children to college. Summer commencement was abolished to save money.

What's Happening 1920-1929?

  • 1920 - Prohibition begins in the United States
  • 1921 - Warren Harding is inaugurated as president of the United States
  • 1923 - Time Magazine is published for the first time
  • 1923 - Walt Disney Company is founded 
  • 1924 - The first Winter Olympics are held in France
  • 1927 - Charles Lindbergh makes the first nonstop solo flight from New York City to Paris over the Atlantic Ocean
  • 1927 - Construction of Mt. Rushmore begins
  • 1928 - Penicillin in discovered
  • 1928 - Bubble gum is invented 
  • 1929 - Herbert Hoover is inaugurated as president of the United States
  • 1929 - The stock market crashes and the Great Depression begins


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