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World War II causes a significant drop in students and department budgets. The Towers produced during these years are noticeably smaller than previous editions. President Uel Lamkin’s connections bring Navy V-5 and V-12 programs and enlisted men to campus. President Lamkin retires in 1945 and is replaced by Dr. J.W. Jones. In 1947 a housing complex, Vets Village or College Heights, is added north of the Administration Building to provide housing for veterans and their families. In 1949 Northwest Missouri State Teachers College is renamed Northwest Missouri State College.
The student population expands greatly due to the end of World War II and veterans attending under the G.I. Bill. President Jones oversees a 10-year building plan, which included the following campus additions: the student union, Colbert Hall, Colden Hall, Lamkin Gymnasium, armory, and residence hall renovations. In 1951 four women are injured when a gas tank explosion causes a fire in the residence hall. The hall is later renamed in memory of Roberta Steel, who dies in 1952 from her injuries. The college welcomes several famous visitors, including President Harry S. Truman in 1955 and Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1959.
The student population continues to rise, doubling between 1961 and 1967. President Jones oversees more new construction, adding five new residence halls in 1961 and 1962. Freshmen soon outnumber upperclassmen and resist freshman initiation traditions, like beanie hazing and Walkout Day’s kangaroo court. President Jones retires in 1964 and is replaced by Dr. Robert P. Foster. President Foster continues campus expansion adding Douglas, Cooper, Phillips and Franken residence halls, the Station (Taylor Commons), the Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building, and the Garrett-Strong Science Building. In April 1964 students riot over the quality of food provided in the student union. In December 1964 Louis Armstrong and his band perform at a campus ball. In 1967 a fire consumes the original dairy barn.
Throughout the 50s and 60s the Towers grew with enrollment in order to document more aspects of student life. In 1971 Tower staff decided to omit the traditional photos of student organizations in favor of a more artistic layout. In protest, 200 students marched to the Gaunt House and the Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building, trashing their copies of the book. Traditional group photos returned in the 1972 Tower. Northwest Missouri State College is renamed Northwest Missouri State University in 1972. President Foster presides over the construction of Millikan and Dietrich residence halls, Valk Center, and the Memorial Bell Tower. He retires in 1977, succeeded by a 1959 graduate, Dr. Bob D. Owens. In July 1979 an electrical fire consumes 60 percent of the historic Administration Building.
Much of the 1980 Tower is dedicated to covering the aftermath of the 1979 fire. The fire destroyed classrooms, two theaters, the campus radio station, and administrative offices. Rumors abound that the state will close the university, but President Owens and his administration proposed a plan to rebuild. Over the next four years the university renovates the Administration Building, J.W. Jones Student Union, Wells Hall, and adds a new aquatic center, library, and performing arts center. President Owens resigns in 1984, followed by Dr. Dean Hubbard. Under President Hubbard’s leadership, Northwest becomes a dry campus in 1984 and opens the Electronic Campus in 1987. In 1988 Northwest achieves a record freshman enrollment of 1,405.
President Hubbard and his administration oversee a number of renovations to Colden Pond, Colden Hall, Garrett-Strong, Roberta Hall, and the North and South complexes. The Board of Regents approve a new logo in 1990. In 1991 campus buildings become smoke free. Through legislation from the Missouri General Assembly, Northwest becomes the site of the Missouri Arboretum. In 1995 the EC+ (Electronic Campus Plus) pilot program begins and the university launches its first website. Northwest wins its first Missouri Quality Award in 1997. In 1998 the Northwest Foundation funds construction and dedicates the Joyce and Harvey White International Plaza and the Peace Pavilion. The Bearcat football team wins back-to-back DII National Championships in 1998 and 1999. In 1999 Northwest Online is launched and 57 students enroll in nine courses.
For the first time, spring commencement is divided into two ceremonies to accommodate overflowing crowds in 2002. On-campus residence options expand with the addition of Forest Village Apartments and Tower Suites in 2004. The Safe Ride Home program begins in 2004, allowing students free after-hour transportation. Renovations to Bearcat Stadium are completed and the stadium is rededicated in 2004. The Board of Regents approve the notebook computer program and each on-campus student receives a new laptop in 2005. The Tower celebrates the university’s centennial with a “Living Legacy” theme in 2005. In 2006 the university opens a new classroom facility in Liberty, the Northwest Kansas City Center. President Hubbard announces his retirement and Dr. John Jasinski is chosen to be the university’s tenth president in 2009. The Bearcat football team wins its third NCAA DII National Championship in December 2009.