Happy birthday, Southeastern


File Photo

The university celebrates its 93rd birthday this year. The institution began as Hammond Junior College in 1925 and has grown through the years to its current state.

Prakriti Adhikari, Staff Reporter

Since its establishment as Hammond Junior College in 1925, the university has undergone numerous evolutions. 

The two-year co-educational system that offered undergraduate degrees in arts and sciences became Southeastern Louisiana College in 1928. The university that now has 14,308 students enrolled in fall 2017 with 247 students representing 50 different countries went through many levels of improvement to be what it is now.

After a few years of being a college, the State Board of Education authorized a four-year curriculum in 1937 in liberal arts, teacher education, business administration, music, social sciences and physical education and provided its first baccalaureate degrees in 1939. Master’s degrees have been offered since 1960.

To better suit these new milestones, the infrastructure of the university began to grow as well. McGehee Hall was constructed after the state bond issue provided for the construction. After the end of World War II, the school had to construct more classrooms, a student union, a cafeteria, a health center, dormitories, apartments for married students and many surplus temporary buildings donated by the federal government.

Some buildings on campus have quite the history. While McGehee was constructed in 1934, D Vickers Hall came into existence in the early 1970s, and Fayard Hall was completed in 2001. Several changes were made throughout all these years to make the campus what it is today.

Different parts of the campus have their own stories. The friendship circle carries one. It is believed that any couples that kiss beneath the tree will one day get married. Erin Cowser, executive director of public and governmental affairs, shared how the story about the Friendship Oak came to be.

“It’s my understanding that Campbell Hall was originally the female dormitory on campus,” said Cowser. “When gentleman suitors would drop off their dates. They would often linger under the branches of the tree across the way as they said their goodbyes. It’s legend that any couples who kiss beneath the boughs of Friendship Oak will one day marry. So, be careful who you kiss there.”

The university has had a steady growth, recovering after a disaster occurred in 2005. Hurricane Katrina hit southeast Louisiana on Aug. 29, six days after the semester began. Although the university did not face many structural damages, many student sand staffs were displaced, and the university played a significant role to provide them shelter. However, in spite of Katrina, the university had again enrolled a record number of 16,068 students.

Regardless of the holdups, the university continues to become a source of education for thousands of students from various parts of the country and the world. The university has an area of 363 acres and over 68,000 alumni.

Cowser shared what makes the university unique.

“We are devoted to academic excellence within a caring environment,” said Cowser. “Student success is central to every decision made on this campus so that once they graduate, our students can contribute to the success of our region, state and society as a whole.”