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Northwest Missouri State University


Violet Pauline Smith Biffle, on the right, with Mary Summers in front of the Administration Building.  Pauline was one of many young women to receive a teaching certificate from Northwest in 1929.Track meets were held near the Administration Building to large crowds of attendees.  (Donated by David Duvall.)The 1931-1932 MIAA Champion Basketball Team poses outside the first gymnasium (now Martindale Hall) with their coach Henry Iba.The Northwest PEP Club poses for a group picture.  Phil Colbert, son of the Dean of Faculty George Colbert, was the head cheerleader.Students enjoy a Walk-Out Day picnic.  The First Walk-Out Day took place on Oct. 22, 1914 and became an annual tradition.The Hickory Stick game between Northwest's State Teachers College and Truman State University began in 1931 with a Bearcat 7-0 victory against the Bulldogs. The Old Hickory Stick game between Northwest and Truman has the distinction of being the oldest continuing trophy game in Division II college football.Charles Curtis, vice-president under Herbert Hoover visited Northwest to lecture about farm problems on October 4, 1932. Born January 25, 1860, in North Topeka, Kansas, Curtis was the first Native American Kansan to serve as vice-president.The 1939 graduating class of the Teachers College wanted to present the school with a painting by renowned artist, Thomas Hart Benton.  Due to the depression, the class was unable to acquire the financing to purchase his work.  In a generous act of kindness, Thomas H. Benton arrived a Northwest to gift the school with a lithograph titled "Cradling Wheat."The famous Von Trapp Family depicted in the classic Disney musical "The Sound of Music" performed at the Missouri State Teacher's College in 1942.  The family decided to leave Nazi-occupied Austria for America in 1938.The "Flying Bearcats" or "Bearcat Squadron Boys" were part of a World War II Civilian Pilot Training program at Northwest.  The program was headed by an Army officer named Captain Schulz, who later transferred to active duty and was killed in Europe in 1942.  Several young men from Northwest got into the United States Air Corps due to the exceptional training they received at Northwest.  The reason the first airport was built in Maryville was due to Northwest's pilot program.President Uel Lamkin was able to get the Navy V-12 and V-5 training programs at Northwest.  Northwest 1945 graduate and computing pioneer, Jean Jennings Bartik, stands outside her Maryville residence on 4th Street chatting with one of the men in the Navy V-12 program.

Student Life

Student life during the State Teachers College years was filled with a multitude of extracurricular activities such as football, track, basketball and club meetings for various student groups. Teacher's College students participated in such yearly traditions as Walk-Out Day and saw the first Homecoming celebrations in 1924. Although, the first Homecoming Queen was not crowned until 1941.

During the Normal School years, Greek society had been banned by the Board of Regents in 1914. However, the school's name change fostered a new attitude and in 1926, under the leadership of President Uel W. Lamkin, the Board rescinded its earlier decree. In 1927, Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority and Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity were installed. Through the '30s and '40s, these two Greek groups, along with Alpha Sigma Alpha (established in 1928) and Phi Sigma Epsilon (established in 1938) comprised Northwest's Greek Community.

Other firsts included the Bearcat's first "Hickory Stick" game against Truman. During the 1940s, Northwest enrollment drastically dropped and there were fears that the school might be forced to close, but the V-5 and V-12 Navy programs brought several hundred young men to a campus. According to Jean Jennings Bartik, a 1945 graduate, there were "10 men to every one woman. In short, no woman was without a date for a dinner or dance, unless she just wanted to be alone."