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The Spectrum (Buffalo, N.Y.) 1955-current, December 11, 1978, Image 5

Image and text provided by University at Buffalo

Persistent link: http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/np00130006/1978-12-11/ed-1/seq-5/


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Singing and marching to class 2 o 3 & < WWII cadets on campus by Kurt Rothenburger Looking through the splintering, double-hung windows of Hayes, Crosby or Foster Hall, today’s student senses that this University must have once existed in a world having nothing to do with busses, state bureaucracies and Ellicott Complexes. But how many can imagine rows of army cadets, marching in double file from class to class, singing in unison and saluting passers-by . . . With the draft age lowered to 18. UB faced a huge deficit as almost half the undergraduate male population was inducted into the Armed Forces. Fortunately, Unde Sam jumped in and saved UB by assigning the 23rd College Training Detachment here. The Cadets were taught according to a strict syllabus prepared by the Pentagon. Not drafted immediately, however, were students studying 'critical occupations,\ such as engineering, medicine, physics and dentistry. The newly-built Norton Union, now Harriman Library, was a military barracks, and the basement of Foster Hall was a toxic chemical detection laboratory for the civil defense program? But by far the most colorful part of the University's history were the Cadets, members of the 23rd Collegiate Training Detachment whose presence saved the nearly 100 year old school from possible financial disaster. The 1942 Selective Service Act, enacted shortly after United States entry into the war, lowered the draft age to eighteen. The University population, predominantly male, was very much within the scope of the draft, with the exception of students studying certain “critical occupations” designated by the Selective Service System, such as engineering, physics, medical and dental students. The first 200 Cadets arrived in February 1943, with subsequent additions bringing the total to 500 by April. An individual Cadet was only at the University for a five -- housing and messing of the 23rd Collegiate Training Detachment, the University still had the responsibility for doing so, month duration, after which he would move to flight training and then to active duty. Each month a group of Cadets would leave and a new group would be assigned to, take their place. It was decided that the newly built Norton Hall, now Harriman Library, would be converted from the student union to an army barracks that could house 250 Cadets and feed 500. The remaining 250 were housed in the Club House at Grover Cleveland Park, across Bailey Avenue from the campus. The atmosphere at the University was understandably subdued during the war years, recalls Harriet Montague. Although the student newspaper, The Bee, still ran its usual headlines about dances, football games, homecoming queens and proms, student activities were at a low ebb. With Norton Hall being used as a barracks, the student union was moved to cramped quarters on the second floor of Hayes Hall. But the most outstanding part of the University atmosphere was still the Cadets. Montague described the vigor they brought to the University. \They always sang as they marched. It was quite an exciting place as well as a sad place because we knew what they Though the individual Cadets remained on campus for only a short time, their presence was appreciated. Capen wrote “Most of the faculty reports that they have never dealt with more earnest and interested students.” Chemistry Professor Emeritus Howard Post, who taught a Active duty call In 1942 it was announced that students studying for other than the critical occupations would be called to active duty, and therefore, would be unable to complete the academic year. The then University Chancellor Samuel P. Capen wrote “It seemed probable that by the middle of the (1942-3) year at least half the student population would be gone.\ Bracing themselves for a gaping budget deficit, the University Council called for contributions from alumni and friends of the University. This campaign, plus the postponements of active service that many students managed to obtain for the balance of the academic year eased the bjidget outlook, but alone, would probably not have prevented a large deficit. Enter the United States Government. Washington contracted with the University to place the 23rd College Training Detachment (Air Crew) here. Under the agreement, the University educated 500 Army-Air Force Cadets, according to a syllabus prepared by the Army. The program was a narrow and concentrated one, primarily stressing mathmatics, physics, basic English skills, history, and geography. But many faculty members either enlisted, were drafted or received commissions. In fact, the most extensive faculty losses, wrote Capen, “occurred in exactly those departments which form the core of the Army and Navy training programs. were in for.” Explosion in Foster The 23rd Collegiate Training Detachment was gradually phased out of the University during the 1944 school year. But their presence, along with the extra work put in by the faculty, turned an unexpected budget deficit into a surplus and also added a curious chapter to those versed only in recent University history. For a quarter of a century later, in a different time, a different place and a much different war, students would march past the same buildings against the military and all it then stood for. Students in uniform line up in front of the atmosphere on campus,\ marching to class old Medical School building. During their and saluting the professors, stay, the cadets injected \a unique An important war geography course agrees. “They were really interesting,\ he noted, “and always raring to go.\ The Cadets brought a unique atmosphere to the campus. “They were always in uniform,” remembers Harriet Montague, professor of Mathmatics at the University from 1929-73. “They would march back and forth to class and we would get a big kick out of it! When we started class they would all stand on command and salute and we would salute back.” The remaining faculty were called upon to teach the Army program in addition to their regular duties. Many of the faculty had to teach the Cadets courses unrelated to their own department. Olive Lester, former Chairman of the Psychology Department and Psychology professor during the war remembers the experience. \It was a terrific load on the faculty,” she emphasized, “but we thought we were playing a role in a very important war.\ Lester herself taught a history course in addition to her psychology schedule. “I had to study the book all the time. I wasn't too far ahead of the class,” she laughed. - * - - - - The University was home to some other interesting goings-on during the war years. Chemistry Professor Emeritus Howard Post, who taught at the school from 1927-67 was a recognized expert in chemical and gas warfare defense and detection. ln_addition to University duties and position in the Civilian Defense Program, Post worked on the preparation of a waf-related product for a Buffalo chemical firm. One of the ingredients used in i -continued on page 6- The housing and feeding of 500 Army-Air Force Cadets presented another problem to the University, which at that time had no dormitories or orv-campus housing of any type. Although the military was to assume all cost for

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