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Eastern: A Timeline of Service and Progress

1889
  • Willimantic State Normal School (WNS) opens on the third floor of the Willimantic Savings Institute
  • Arthur B. Morrill becomes principal (1889-93)
1891

The first graduation ceremony sends 22 women out into the world to become schoolteachers

1898

The women’s basketball team wins league championship

1993

George P. Phenix becomes principal (1893-1904)

1894

Faculty and students leave Main Street and move up the hill to first dedicated WNS building 

1904
  • Henry T. Burr becomes principal (1904- 18)
  • Miriam Skidmore begins tenure (1904-28) as a lead trainer for student teachers
1908

WNS graduates its first two African American teachers

1910
  • Windham Street Model School opens to provide student teaching opportunities for WNS students
  • Room and board costs $200 per year
1918

George Shafer becomes principal (1918-47)

1921

First dormitory constructed, named after the school’s third principle, Henry T. Burr (it’s still here!)

1924

Model school burns down

1928

Model school replaced with what is now Noble Hall (dedicated in 1957), named after longtime principal of the model school Frederick R. Noble

1930

Room and board averages $325 per year for the 173 students attending WNS

1937

School transitions to a four-year curriculum and changes name to Willimantic State Teachers College (WSTC), making Shafer the college’s first president.

1939

For the first time, there is enough men in attendance to form a men’s basketball team

1942

WSTC men’s basketball team becomes division champion in the New England Teachers Conference

1943

The original Normal School building burns down after serving as the only classroom and administration building for 48 years

1947
  • James Eugene Smith becomes president of WSTC (1947- 66)
  • Knight House and 20 acres purchased as the college begins to develop up the hill
1948
  • Original WNS building replaced and later named Shafer Hall
  • Juliette Burtsermann, first African American professor at WSTC, joins faculty
1957
  • Replaced model school is renovated and named Noble Hall
  • First graduate program offered in education
1959
  • Name change to Willimantic State College
  • New student union/dormitory built (Winthrop Hall)
1966

Searle Charles becomes president (1966-70); during his term, school becomes Eastern Connecticut State College

1967

Goddard Science Building opens

1970

Charles Richard Webb becomes president (1970-88)

1971
  • Several years after President Smith’s retirement, the institution dedicates the original J. Eugene Smith Library in his honor (it is now Wood Support Services)
  • Construction begins on $2.7 million Sports Center
1981

National softball champions

1983

School completes its metamorphosis and becomes Eastern Connecticut State University

1988

David G. Carter becomes president (1988-2006)

1992
  • Classroom building built and dedicated in 1999 to President Webb
  • Noble Hall renovated
  • Noted social activist Jesse Jackson delivers keynote address at commencement
1995

After initiating exchange agreements with other nations, number of international students grows to 145

1998
  • Niejadlik Hall built
  • Baseball stadium/sports complex built
  • Connecticut State University System Board of Trustees approves Eastern’s public liberal arts mission
1999
  • New library built and dedicated to President Smith
  • Mead Hall built
  • Admissions building built
  • Foster Clock Tower built
2002

Gelsi Young Hall built

2003

Parking garage built

2004

Eastern becomes member of Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC)

2005

Constitution, Laurel and Nutmeg Halls open

2006
  • Burr Hall goes from exclusively female to coed after extensive renovations
  • Child Family Development Resource Center opens
  • Elsa Núñez becomes President
2008

Expanded and renovated Student Center opens

2009

Science Building Opens

2016

Fine Arts Instructional Center Opens

Eastern History Book