World conflict in Europe and in the Pacific area in the first half of the decade of the ’40s saw Marshall students march off to serve their country in the military forces while the few left behind did their part on the home front. Numerous servicemen also received military training at Marshall.
The post-war period launched a new era for the college as the veterans returned, pushing enrollment to record numbers. A new president arrived in the latter half of the decade and proved to be a significant leader for more than 20 years. Athletic teams gained national attention on the court and field after competition diminished and even suspended during the war years.
Marshall took on a new role and gained new vitality at war’s end. More than 500 veterans were enrolled in 1946. An accelerated curriculum allowed many to graduate in three years. Federally provided fabricated housing for the veterans sprung up on and off campus.
Dr. Stewart H. Smith, dean of the Teachers College, succeeded John D. Williams as president in 1946 and led the school until 1968. The Graduate School was created in 1948. The men’s basketball team won a national championship in 1947 and the football team played in the 1948 Tangerine Bowl in Florida. Both teams were coached by the legendary Cam Henderson.