Reaching Out – Maturing: 1980-1989

As Marshall approached its 150th year, the ’80s had seen the end of one era – President Robert B. Hayes’ “Decade of Progress” – and the beginning of another as Dr. Dale F. Nitzschke became the 11th president in March 1984, directing the institution toward greater service to the state and region.

One of the state’s largest classroom buildings, Corbly Hall, named for the school’s first president, opened. Basketball teams finally had their own arena on campus in Cam Henderson Center. A medical education building was constructed with federal funds at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in nearby Wayne County. A major addition to the Science Building was completed. A new fine arts center was built, as well as the beginning stages of a new football stadium.

It was simply called the multi-purpose facility during construction, but soon was christened the Cam Henderson Center after the school’s most famous coach. It is the home of Thundering Herd basketball and provides numerous facilities for other physical education activities. Above is the completed building and at right is the scene during construction. The first varsity basketball game was played there in November 1981.
First game in Henderson Center, November 27, 1981, against Army. Marshall won, 71-53.
Another part of the School of Medicine complex is the medical education building at the Veterans Administration Medical Center on Spring Valley Drive west of Huntington.
In addition to the Henderson Center, other new buildings on campus in the 1980s included Corbly Hall.
The Marshall band, “The Big Green Marching Machine,” as it was called, was a frequent performer at National Football League games, including this appearance, above, in September 1982 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.
Winning became the name of the game in the 1980s. In this photo, Jeff Shade and Don Johnson (31) celebrate MU’s sixth football win in the 1984 season, ending the nation’s longest streak of losing seasons – 18. The Herd continued its winning ways the next year with a 7-3-1 record.
The first floor of Buskirk Hall started the Bruce Morris fan club after his history-making basketball shot of 89 feet, 10 inches at Henderson Center against Appalachian State during the 1984-85 season. Morris is in the back with his arm extended. They dedicated the wall to him.
Marshall’s presidents have lived in this colonial-style residence near Ritter Park since 1971.
Marco has seen many changes through the year, but this version is the most prominent since the late 1970s.
The Marshall Beech Tree and Old Main still mark the original site where the Marshall story started in 1837. It was struck by lightning and killed during Marshall’s 150th anniversary in 1987. A new beech tree was planted with hopes of living 150 more years.
This picture of the Memorial Fountain at the Memorial Student Center was taken at dusk. The fountain, dedicated to the 75 victims of the 1970 plane crash, was erected in 1972. It has never changed locations.
In the late 1980s, student, faculty and community support for a new fine and performing arts center became clear. Plans were developed and construction began after generous contributions from alumni, faculty, staff, students and the Huntington community. The $13 million Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center was completed and opened in the fall semester of 1992. Since opening, it has served as a center for student and professional performances for the tri-state region. Classrooms also make up the center. The facility was named in honor of Huntington philanthropist Ms. Joan C. Edwards, who donated $1 million towards the playhouse.
The late 1980s also proved worthy for Marshall University outside the classroom. Athletic programs were quickly developing as powerhouses in the Southern Conference. Plans were underway for a new football stadium to replace the aging Fairfield Stadium. Land was purchased east of the university boundaries along 20th Street.
Scaffolding goes up for the massive press box at the new stadium. Cement walls would also be constructed as the foundation to the stadium was poured. The large crane would eventually be sitting on the 30 yard line. This photo is from 1989.