Our Doors Opened Wide: Syracuse University and the GI Bill, 1945-1950

Syracuse University in Wartime

During World War II, the Navy and Army would send some of their servicemen to colleges and universities before combat. Most colleges were reluctant to accept them, but Syracuse University welcomed the military to its campus. Chancellor William Tolley called for Syracuse to be a “Victory University.” The University provided training to Air Corps cadets, the Army Specialized Training Program, Women’s Auxiliary Corps Officers, the Navy V-12 Program, and the Cadet Nursing Corps. Syracuse University even created a War Service College which offered a pre-induction course for military service, war industry training for women and those not eligible for the draft, and continuing civilian education.

By 1945, there were over 8,000 servicemen and women on campus. This open-door policy helped pave the way for the thousands of veterans who would enter Syracuse University to study under the GI Bill after the war.

Cover and pages 18 and 19 of Syracuse University Bulletin, War Service College, 1943-1944. Syracuse University World War II Collection, University Archives.

Photograph of Syracuse University nurse cadets during the dedication of the new School of Nursing building, June 6, 1945. Syracuse University Photograph Collection, University Archives.

Although the University had offered nursing certificates since taking over the Hospital of the Good Shepherd in 1915, it was not until 1943 that the School of Nursing was formally established in response to the need for trained nurses during World War II.

Photograph of Air Corps cadets in the classroom, 1944. Syracuse University Photograph Collection, University Archives.

Pages 7 and 8 from Mobilizing for Victory, a Syracuse University fund-raising publication distributed to alumni, 1942. Syracuse University Advancement and External Affairs Records, University Archives.

Photograph of military formations on the Quad, summer 1943. Syracuse University Photograph Collection, University Archives. Gift of R.E. Anderson.