The End of an Era

Oshkosh State College Brochure

Despite its juvenile iconography, this Oshkosh State College promotion was geared toward 17- and 18-year olds.  It highlights a new modern dormitory, student union, and the Liberal Arts program.  This new degree program would prove to be a popular draw from the next wave of veterans. 

Brochure, (n.d.). UW Oshkosh Archives and Area Research Center.

Despite all the services OSTC provided after WWII, many of the veterans who came initially to Oshkosh did not plan on staying to complete their education.  Many had no desire to become teachers and used the college as a way to get general education requirements out of the way, and then transferred to other schools to finish their degrees. The state teachers college system responded by petitioning the Board of Regents to allow them to offer liberal arts degrees, and so began a nearly three-year battle that would transform higher education in Wisconsin. OSTC justified its need for a liberal arts program due to the high number of upperclassmen transferring out, and claimed there were not enough liberal arts colleges and universities to meet the veterans’ needs.

Superior State Teachers College was the first State Teachers College allowed to grant liberal arts degrees when the legislature overrode Governor Goodland’s veto in 1946 of legislation geared specifically for that school. In 1948, the Regents released the Guiles Reports, compiled by Roger E. Guiles (future chancellor of UW Oshkosh), and recommended that a liberal arts program be adopted by all the other State Teachers Colleges.  A year later, the state legislature approved and Goodland signed a bill allowing all of the other colleges the ability to grant liberal arts degrees. It took two more years for the Regents to implement the program in Oshkosh, transforming the Oshkosh State Teachers College into Oshkosh State College. This enormous change in mission put OSC and its sister schools on a trajectory toward full university status, and although this came too late for World War II veterans, another group of returning soldiers would take full advantage of the new liberal arts programs.

Section 2: World War II
The End of an Era