#MIHistory – Oct. 19: Western Michigan University’s Roots

On this day in 1903, residents of Kalamazoo voted to fund the construction of the Western State Normal School, which would eventually become Western Michigan University.

Western Michigan 1910

Western State Normal School in 1910

As a teacher training school, the Western State Normal School originally only offered two-year training programs. The first class of 117 students was enrolled in 1904.

The school expanded to include four-year degrees in 1920. Its name changed to the Western State Teachers College in 1927, the Michigan College of Education in 1941, Western Michigan College in 1955, and finally, Western Michigan University in 1957, the same year it became Michigan’s fourth public university.

Over the years, the scope of Western Michigan’s academic offerings has widely expanded. The university now offers 140 undergraduate programs, 67 master’s degree programs, 29 doctoral programs and one specialist degree program in education.

Famous alumni of Western Michigan University include actor and voice of “Pure Michigan” commercials Tim Allen, Stryker Corp. founder Homer Stryker and singer-songwriter Luther Vandross.

Western Michigan University had 23,914 students enrolled in its fall 2014 semester.


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