Credit: Photo courtesy of Donald E. Moreland.

"I'm afraid that if it had not been for the GI Bill, I would probably never have been able to get a college degree . . ."

NC State Professor Emeritus of Crop Science Donald Moreland (B.S. 1949, M.S. 1950, Ph.D. 1953), who served in Australia and the Philippines in World War II.

The year 2004 marks the sixtieth anniversary of one of the best-loved and most successful public policies ever adopted in the United States. The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 (GI Bill of Rights) offered nearly 16 million World War II veterans benefits that included mortgages, small-business loans, unemployment insurance, health care, job training, and free education. A great success, it was later extended to Korea- and Vietnam-era veterans, and became permanent as the Montgomery GI Bill in 1987. Millions have benefited from this legislation.

What began as a temporary measure to ensure an orderly transition to postwar life has had a lasting impact on many sectors of society. The best-known benefit is the opportunity the legislation offered for higher education. As stated by the political scientist Dr. Milton Greenberg, himself a World War II veteran and GI Bill beneficiary, "It is the college and university educational provisions that endure as the symbol and romance of the GI Bill."

The GI Bill has shaped both North Carolina State University and the lives of thousands of veterans who have attended it. In the late 1940s, nearly 80 percent of students were veterans, higher than the approximately 50 percent seen nationwide. Enrollment doubled in comparison to pre-World War II levels and continued growing. Through the 1950s and into the early 1960s, an average of around 2,000 veterans enrolled at NC State each year. During this period, the university constructed many buildings, expanded its programs, and rose rapidly in national prominence.

Drawing mostly on its own rich collections, the Special Collections Research Center at North Carolina State University has created this exhibit to honor the veterans who have attended the university, and to celebrate the legislation that helped make it possible for them to pursue their dreams.

– Dr. Robert Serow
Professor of Educational Research and Leadership
NCSU College of Education


Next: Origins Next Section