Returning World War II veterans swelled enrollment at Vanderbilt, particularly in the School of Engineering. VUSE’s enrollment went from a wartime low of 158 in 1943-44 to 574 students in 1945-46. It reached a then-record high of 821 undergraduates in 1948-1949.
A report to the Board of Trust stated, “Naturally, classrooms and laboratories have been crowded, and the need for larger quarters has been keenly felt.” The influx prompted the administration to move ahead with construction of a new 72,000 square-foot engineering building (shown right, under construction). Designed by Hart Freeland & Roberts (with two alumni co-founders, F. Eugene Freeland, BE 1906 and Martin Roberts, ME 1905), the building opened in September 1950. For once, all engineering classes were under one roof.
The growth, while challenging, did have other positive results. “There is no doubt the crowded conditions of the last several years have actually enabled us to improve the quality of the students enrolled,” noted Chancellor Harvie Branscomb.