With the start of World War II in Europe, military preparedness became important on the national and local levels. In 1940, the college began a program for training civilian pilots in conjunction with the local airport, a program that made Bloomsburg an ideal location for hosting the Navy V-5 program for flight instructors beginning in 1942. The following year, a V-12 program for training officers was started and both programs are credited with keeping the college open during the war. Enrollment reached record numbers at the war’s conclusion, swelled by returning veterans, and after a brief decline in the early 1950s the number of students once again increased.
To meet the growing demand for higher education, a separate dining facility was opened in 1957 and construction started the following year on a classroom building, Sutliff Hall, and a residence hall, New North Hall, now known as Northumberland. Two years later, legislation was approved to expand the curriculum at the state teachers colleges and introduce graduate programs. On Jan. 8, 1960, the word “Teachers” was dropped and the school officially became Bloomsburg State College.
An expanded curriculum to prepare students for careers in education and other professions prompted tremendous growth in the size of the student population. A school with an enrollment of 1,600 students in 1959 surpassed 4,000 a decade later and 10,000 in fall 2011. Although Bloomsburg University is a much different institution than it was 85 years ago when it grew from normal school to teachers college, its core of providing education to its students and training the teachers of tomorrow has not changed. •