History of the College of Education and Human Development

Special thanks to Greta Rey for pulling together the list of events for this timeline of the College of Education and Human Development at Western Michigan University.


  • In existence are the following: State Normal School at Ypsilanti, Central State Normal School at Mt. Pleasant and Northern State Normal School at Marquette.


  • Governor vetoes bill passed by legislature creating a fourth normal school.


  • May 27. Governor Bliss signs bill providing for establishment of Western State Normal School.
  • June 23. Civic leaders offer State Board of Education incentives to locate new institution in Kalamazoo.
  • Aug. 28. State Board of Education selects Kalamazoo as site for new Normal School. WMU was the last state sponsored teacher-training program in the state of Michigan authorized by the legislature.
  • Oct. 19. Kalamazoo voters authorize city to borrow $70,000 to build and operate the new school.
  • Nov. 27. State Board of Education selects Prospect Hill (an overgrown orchard) as campus site.
  • WMU was originally founded to fulfill a teacher shortage and the lack of training opportunities in West Michigan.


  • The old Vine Street school - 1904

    The old Vine Street school in 1904. The first sessions were held in this building.

    April 1. Dwight Bryant Waldo selected by State Board of Education as "principal" of Western State Normal School.
  • May 16. Work begins on grading land on Prospect Hill.
  • May 19. Waldo announces creation of the Rural School Department. Ernest Burnham heads the department and develops it into a model program that is nationally recognized.
  • June 27. Western’s first session (six weeks summer) enrolls 117 students, who attend classes in the Kalamazoo High School Building.
  • Sept. 26. First fall term begins.
  • September. Training School begins with grades one, two and four. Grades one and two housed in the Methodist Church House, grade four on the third floor of the YMCA.
  • Oct. 10. Men’s Athletic Association created.
  • Oct. 12. Beginning of the Rural Sociology Seminar.


  • The old College building in 1904

    The old College building in 1904. Fall sessions were held in this building.

    Jan. 18. The Rural Sociology Seminar constitution adopted.
  • Jan. 25. Western State Normal Athletic Association’s organization completed. Open to all male students interested in team sports. A girl's basketball team also exists.
  • Feb. Orchestra organized.
  • April 6. Chapter of Young Women’s Christian Association started at Western.
  • Spring 1905-09. Training School’s classes housed in the city’s new Vine Street School.
  • Spring 1905. Training School adds grades three, five and six.
  • June 22. Western’s first commencement. Granting of life teaching certificates to five students and three-year rural teaching certificates to four students.
  • Summer 1905. Extension program initiated. Summer classes for teachers working for extension of life certificates.
  • Sept. 1. Administrative offices moved from Kalamazoo College building into newly constructed administration building (central portion of East Hall).
  • Sept. Department of Art established. Domestic economy and manual training departments absorb the drawing department.
  • Oct. 24. Men students form the Riley Literary Society.
  • Nov. 21. Women students form the Amphictyon (literary) Society.
  • Nov. 23. Administration (and classroom) building dedicated. Department of Manual Training remains housed in a city school building.


  • Department of Expression is spinoff of English department. Renamed speech department in 1908.


  • Seven students complete life certificates for teaching, through extension program.
  • Language department divides into German and Latin departments.
  • Rural education department holds first rural progress day for residents of area rural communities. Conducted continuously until 1940.


  • June 22. Gymnasium and classroom building dedicated (north section of present East Hall).
  • June. Railroad (trolley) dedicated. In use until 1947.
  • September. Model one-room school opens in Kalamazoo district #2 (Oakwood), where rural education students observe a Western-appointed teacher in action.
  • Manual training department renamed manual arts department.
  • State of Michigan appropriates $60,000 for a training school building.


  • Art room in 1910

    The art room in 1910.

    Campus Training School building completed (south section of present East Hall).
  • Training school adds seventh grade.
  • Physical training department divided into physical education for men and physical education for women.
  • Domestic science department and art departments divided.


  • Training school adds eighth grade.


  • East Hall in 1910

    East Hall in 1910.

    Rural education department inaugurates regular conference on campus of county school commissioners (superintendents).
  • Normal High School begins with grade 9 (later named State High School, then University High School).


  • High school students will now be part of the training school and will use their own high school classrooms, separate from college classrooms..


  • Western offers a course in commerce. Three years later in has grown to be the commerce department.
  • The Department of Handwriting is established but offers no college credit. It continues until 1940.
  • Athletics fields developed between Asylum Road (Oakland Drive) and Michigan Central Railroad tracks.


  • The German department is renamed modern language department, as French is introduced. In 1919 it introduces Spanish.


  • State Board of Education authorizes state normal schools to offer third year of work in preparation for life certificates and Western requires it.
  • Terms "major" and "minor" officially introduced into curriculum.
  • September. Rural education uses a model one-room school on Michigan Avenue, replacing the Oakwood school. In use until 1924.


  • State Board of Education grants degree privileges to state’s normal schools and Western begins to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees.
  • October. Completion of U.S. Government barracks for use by Student Army Training Corps.
  • Nov. 11. World War I ends.
  • Dec. 21. Student Army Training Corps disbanded. Government deeds barracks to Western, which uses the building for classrooms until it is razed in June 1953.


  • Two-year course in physical education for men introduced.


  • September. Manual training building completed.
  • Industrial arts department renamed manual arts department.


  • Rural education.