The 1940s featured continued stress across the globe as World War II raged on, and changed the pace of things on campus and in Cape Girardeau. Meanwhile, the school on top of the hill kept moving forward.


Life at Southeast Missouri State Teachers College

Students continued to make memories as the college kept progressing. At this time, students were required to take three full years of physical education.  In 1942, summa cum laude and magna cum laude honors were established and given to students graduating within the grade point parameters. 

The school just gave out bachelor's degrees, although that would change later in this decade. 

The student body started forming its own personality as this decade moved on. In May of 1946, students formed their own government, a tradition that continues today. Later on in the decade, Delta Kappa fraternity held its first meeting. Today, there are over 200 student organizations on campus. 

War Changes

The school did its part as World War II continued. The school participated in drives to collect materials for the war efforts, including aluminum, paper, and iron. 

The college also established the Civilian Pilot Training program. They helped build model airplanes for the Bureau of Aeronautics and participated in the Navy's V-1, V-5, and V-12 training programs. 

War efforts continued on campus until the end of the war in Asia in 1945.

A New Name

In 1943, the brand new library was officially named "Kent Library" after librarian Sadie Kent. Kent had helped dedicate the new library in 1939 when it was finished, but the building officially got its name a few years later. The Univeristy decided it would be named after Kent for her long service to the school. The library housed 150,000 books, a museum, a theatre room, and plenty of other workspace for campus. Kent had dedicated the library by placing a Bible on a shelf in the reading room. 

On September 21, 1946 the Missouri General Assembly granted permission to officially rename the school. The institution was now named Southeast Missouri State College, and was allowed to grant master's degrees.

Just two years after the new name, the college celebrated its 75th (diamond) anniversary. They did this with class reunions, dinners, a parade, a ball, and a football game against Maryville. 


Campus experienced its share of disaster in the 1940s. On Feb 18, 1948, Houck Field House was destroyed by a fire.

Just over a year after Houck burned, a tornado ripped across campus. This natural disaster took the north wall of Wildwood. 

Approval for a new field house would come three years later. 

Now, campus is getting ready to celebrate the brand new Houck Stadium in fall of 2023. 

What was happening in the 1940s?

  • 1940 - McDonald's is founded in California
  • 1941 - Wonder Woman first appears in All Star Comics #8
  • 1941 - Attack on Pearl Harbor
  • 1942 - Disney releases Bambi
  • 1943 - ABC is founded
  • 1944 - First electric computer is created
  • 1944 - D-Day landings in Normanday, France
  • 1945 - Death of Anne Frank
  • 1945 - World War II ends in Europe
  • 1945 - The United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 
  • 1945 - World War II ends in Asia
  • 1946 - The first images of earth are taken from space
  • 1947 - The sound barrier is broken
  • 1948 - The World Heatlh Organization is founded
  • 1948 - North and South Korea are divided
  • 1949 - George Orwell's novel "Nineteen eighty-four" is publishes
  • 1949 - NATO is created

Spread the Word