Back in the Day … La Salle’s Business Programs During World War II
Life was very different at La Salle during World War II, especially for students majoring in business.
The campus consisted of only 20 acres then. The enrollment had plummeted because of wartime enlistments and drafts. By 1944, there were just 97 men enrolled at La Salle College. The tuition was only $100 per term in 1942–1943 (with $50 in fees), but it jumped to $150 per term (plus fees) the following year. La Salle’s official School of Business did not start until 1955. The wartime catalogs, however, listed four business-oriented academic departments and their principal teachers: Accounting with William Howe and Brother Norbert, Business Law with Albert Crawford, Insurance with Francis Allen, and Finance with James Henry.
Henry’s was arguably the most visible face on the entire campus during the war. He had been La Salle’s first varsity basketball coach, was the school’s longtime Athletic Director, and was the Explorers’ last football coach when football was dropped after the start of World War II. Appropriately, Henry spearheaded “Hale America,” a wartime physical fitness program at La Salle. This involved mandatory gym classes, Wednesday morning hikes through Germantown, and swimming instruction.
Summer semesters and evening classes helped students get their diplomas quicker. So did Commencement ceremonies held three times a year in June, September, and January. Students were encouraged to buy war bonds and stamps. (“If we don’t go the Prom,” pleads a college-aged youth to his girlfriend in a 1943 Collegian cartoon, “I can spend my money in savings stamps.”) The Collegian never covered military campaigns as such, but the lists and write-ups of scores of La Salle men in the service in many issues are impressive.
The year 1945 brought jubilant V-E and V-J days. New students, thanks to the G.I. Bill, flooded the post-war campus. La Salle would grow, thrive, and take its place among the region’s top colleges.