Alumni Association 137 Years

1930s - 1950s

Memorial Hall

As the Alumni Association celebrates 137 years of service to students, alumni and the university, we look back to the extraordinary transformations that took place on campus during and after World War ll.

In the late 1930s, alumni were coming back to campus to celebrate the annual Home-Coming Day in October, which had since replaced the mid-winter Alumni Day. Some three hundred alumni returned each year to visit departments, enjoy a cafeteria luncheon at Draper Hall and head out for an afternoon football game.

To maintain alumni comradery off-campus, 17 alumni clubs were formed around the nation at this time; the largest being in Boston. According to the Associate Alumni Annual Report for 1938, the clubs held two meetings per year, usually a smoker meeting and a mid-winter banquet. Women became an integral part of alumni activities as they regularly planned and attended social events. The report goes on to say that, “The word ‘alumni’ has come to be commonly understood as referring to both men and women graduates of the college. Both alumni and alumnae have attended the meetings mentioned above (except smokers, which are for men) and the younger alumnae have shown a great deal of interest in these events.”

By 1941, Massachusetts State College (the name adopted ten years prior) had both undergraduate and graduate programs and had granted degrees to some 250 men and women each year. Given the strength of its educational programs, the Associate Alumni petitioned to garner university status for the college. An article printed in the February 1941 Alumni Bulletin states, “University status is, very apparently, the natural and logical destiny of the land grant college.”

After gaining approval from the College of Trustees, the Associate Alumni filed a bill with the Massachusetts Legislature to change the name to the University of Massachusetts and in 1947 Governor Robert T. Bradford signed Senate Bill 533 making the University of Massachusetts a reality.

Immediately after World War II, it became apparent that American colleges and universities would soon face an influx of new applicants. The jump in the birth rate and post war boom in living & eduactional standards foretold a demand for a college education like never before.

In the mid 1950s, the university created a master plan to determine how the campus and physical plant were to be converted to meet the expected increase in applicants. The Associate Alumni also launched a strategic plan to increase not only the scope of its programs, but funding to support university initiatives as well.

This new era of the Associate Alumni brought:

  • unrestricted scholarships to students in need
  • a national Alumni Club program to keep graduates better informed of  university developments and to continue college friendships
  • assistance in new building financing through the UMass Building Corporation
  • alumni panels to consult on university development
  • expanded efforts to publicize the university and advocate for state support
  • alumni lecture series
  • university speakers and displays traveling to regional alumni
  • expansion of the Associate Alumni office to improve services to alumni and coordination of all phases of this growing program

The Alumni Association continued to grow and develop as an influential force on campus. Read about the Alumni Association’s beginnings as we celebrate 135 years of service to students, alumni and the university.

1874 - 1920s
1930s - 1950s
1960s – 1970s
1970s - 1980s
1990s - 2000s

Special thanks to the Special Collections & University Archives