The 1930’s proved to be a decade of considerable change and growth for Marshall. Five new buildings gave rise to a true campus look. In the Depression years, the college president accepted “IOU’s” and even potatoes from some students to cover tuition. A new, more liberal president introduced the new ideas. It was a time of athletic championships. A flood devastated the region and inundated the campus, and Marshall celebrated its 100th birthday.
Dr. James E. Allen assumed leadership at the midway point of the decade, succeed Morris P. Shawkey, who had served 12 years. Allen, president of Davis and Elkins College for more than 25 years, came to the campus pledging to make Marshall more than a teachers college. Allen was a strong proponent of a liberal arts education.
The West Virginia Board of Education in 1938 authorized Marshall to offer the master’s degree in six disciplines – chemistry, education, history, political science, psychology and sociology.
New buildings included James E. Morrow Library in 1931 and Shawkey Student Union in 1933. The Centennial year of 1937 was highly significant. In addition to the extensive anniversary observances, the Artists Series was started and construction also was completed for the Hodges-Laidley Halls complex and Jenkins Laboratory School (now Jenkins Hall).