The Kentucky General Assembly authorized the appointment of an Educational Commission to conduct a survey of the public school system and report its findings.
The Educational Commission submitted its report to Gov. Edwin P. Morrow. In the report, the commission set forth in detail not only the unsatisfactory conditions of schools in Kentucky but made numerous, specific recommendations for improvements. One of the most important recommendation was under the heading, “More and Better Teacher Training Schools.” The report suggested the establishment of one, and probably two, teacher training institutions.
Gov. Edwin P. Morrow submitted the Educational Commission’s report to the legislature, recommending that the members enact the proper legislation to improve educational conditions in Kentucky.
Architect’s rendering of proposed Murray State campus.
Senate Bill No. 14, providing for the establishment of two state normal schools, was taken to the House of Representatives after having been passed in the Senate by a vote of 30-2 in late January. Amendments in the House created a Normal School Commission consisting of eight Kentucky citizens. The commission was empowered to establish two new normal schools for the training of elementary school teachers, one in the western part of the state and one in the eastern part of the state. The commission was authorized to accept gifts of land, buildings or money for the establishment of those two schools.
A number of cities and towns were interested in being the site of a normal school — among them were Benton, Clinton, Henderson, Hopkinsville, Mayfield, Morganfield, Murray, Owensboro, Paducah and Princeton. However, the people of Murray and Calloway County, with the guidance of Dr. Rainey T. Wells, launched a campaign to raise $100,000. The campaign committee consisted of James G. Glasgow, chairman; Robert E. Broach, county superintendent of schools, seceretary; O.T. Hale; Nat Ryan; Thomas A. Stokes; and Ben Grogan.
At the end of the campaign the subscription books contained 1,100 names of contributors, and before the end of March the $100,000 had been guaranteed.
Rainey T. Wells (left) and John W. Carr
Dr. Rainey T. Wells was chosen to speak for Murray at the presentations. Murray drew last place to speak. After speaking, Wells laid down two checks for $50,000 each saying, “It’s not what the people of Murray have promised to do but what they have already done that counts.” When it was discovered that an additional $16,000 would need to be raised, the people of Murray and Calloway County did just that.
By the end of the summer of that year, Murray had been chosen as the site of the normal school in the western part of the state. The Wells and Houston tracts of land were purchased for the school. The original site included an area between Main and Payne streets and 15th and 16th streets, excluding Oakhurst and 3.2 acres of land which would be purchased later.
The State Board of Education elected Dr. John Carr as the first president of the normal school to be located in Murray. Carr served as president until 1926 for his first term (se3 1933).
On Sept. 24, the Murray State Normal School officially opened. It occupied four rooms and the auditorium on the first floor of Murray High School (now Murray Middle School) .
The first faculty at Murray State Normal School began its work. Faculty members included E.H. Smith, Mary W. Moss, William H. Caudill, J.H. Hutchinson, Stella Pennington, I.H. Koffman and Bell N. Walker.
1923 – First football squad. Coach Irby H. Koffman is at center in coat and tie.
On Oct. 15, ground was broken for Murray State Normal School’s first building.
Irby H. Koffman, athletics, organized the first Murray State football squad to compete against areas high schools. The team won a majority of all games played.
A bill was introduced to provide a board of regents for both of the new normal schools — Murray and Morehead. Murray’s first board included James F. Wilson, G. Prentice Thomas, Laurine Wells Lovett, Thomas H. Stokes and Dr. McHenry Rhoads.
The first building on campus, the Old Administration Building (later Wrather Hall), was completed.
The school’s second building, Wilson Hall, was contracted by the board of regents on Oct. 13.
The Murray State Normal School played its first baseball game, posting an 8 – 1 victory at Mayfield High School.
Wells Hall, named for Dr. Rainey T. Wells, was opened as a dormitory for women. The cafeteria also operated out of this building. Wells Hall was renovated in the late 1970s and currently houses education programs, Student Health Services and the President’s Office.
Carlisle Cutchin was employed as the school’s first football coach. His first team went 6 – 0 with one tie. Cutchin also coached the first basketball team. During the 1925-26 season that team compiled a 9 – 5 record.
An intercollegiate baseball team was organized.
Murray State founder Dr. Rainey T. Wells was appointed as the school’s second president, a position he held until 1932.
“Murray State Normal School” became “Murray State Normal School and Teachers College.”
Lovett Auditorium, when completed, was the largest college auditorium in Kentucky. Seating approximately 3,000 people, the stage is so large that it was used as a basketball court until 1937. Following water damage due to a 1994 fire, the auditorium was refurbished to its early beauty.
Lovett Auditorium under construction, 1927.
The University School building, formerly known as The Training School, was completed. It was used as a laboratory school for teacher training by the university until it was discontinued in 1970.
“Murray State Normal School and Teachers College” became “Murray State Teachers College”
Ordway Hall was approved for construction on April 10. Originally designed for men, it played its part in World War II when men were moved into Wells Hall and women were moved into Ordway while naval units were on campus. Ordway was renovated between 1955 and 1960 and made available again for women.
Pogue Library under construction, 1930
The school’s first library, Pogue Library, was opened. Featuring massive bronze doors, this facility is now a special collections library. In 1966, when Pogue was still the main library, Lowry Annex was added. Waterfiled Library, formerly the Student Union building, was renovated and became the main library on campus in 1978.
Dr. John W. Carr was selected for a second term as president of Murray State, a position he held until 1936.
Cutchin Stadium was constructed and was used through 1971. The MSU soccer field is now located where the stadium once stood.
Murray State Teachers College began offering graduate work leading to the master’s degree.
Dr. James H. Richmond became president of Murray State, serving in that capacity until his death in 1945.
Rainey Wells’s home, Edgewood, was purchased and renamed “Oakhurst.”
The home of Dr. Rainey T. Wells, Edgewood, was purchased as a home for Murray State’s presidents. It was renamed “Oakhurst,” and has been remodeled and refurbished throughout the years. Dr. John W. Carr, Murray State’s first president, is the only MSU president never to have lived in Oakhurst.
The Student Organization was formed at Murray State. It was later renamed the Student Government Association and continues to function today.
Carr Health Building was completed and housed gymnasiums, boxing and wresting rooms, handball courts, weight rooms and classrooms.
Dr. Ralph H. Woods began his presidency at Murray State Teachers College following the death of President James H. Richmond. Dr. Woods held the position until 1968.
Old fine Arts building
The Price Doyle Fine Arts Building was completed at a cost of $105,091. The building was renovated in 1997.
Racer Arena was completed for use as a basketball facility. The old varsity gymnasium had a seating capacity of only 2,300. Racer Arena (now the home of MSU Women’s Volleyball) seats 6,000.
The Murray State Foundation, a corporation whose sole purpose would be the improvement of Murray State Teachers College, was established at the suggestion of Murray State president Ralph H. Woods.
Administrative staff, 1946
The Industrial Arts Building was completed. Much of the interior finishing work was done by the students and teachers under the direction of Dr. Hugh L Oakley.
“Murray State Teachers College” was renamed “Murray State College” by an official act of the Kentucky General Assembly.
Wells Hall women’s dormitory, 1954
Begun in 1948, Blackburn Science Building was completed at a cost of $790,198. The south section of the current building was in use in 1950. The northern section was not constructed until 1968 when the two sections were joined to have the appearance of a single building.
Woods Hall was constructed as a dormitory for women. Although vacant for a time, it is now the home of the Institute for International Studies.
Residence halls including Richmond, Clark, Franklin, Springer, Elizabeth, Hart, White, Hester and Regents were constructed. Married housing aparTMENTS (College Courts) were also built during this time, as was Winslow Cafeteria. Winslow underwent a two-million dollar internal and external renovation in 2003.
Murray State Marching Band in Homecoming Parade, 1965
The Business Building, known then as the Business and Education Building, was completed. It consists of a four-floor wind and a six-floor wing and houses the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business.
The Oakley Applied Science Building was completed. The building houses industrial education and technology programs, family and consumer studies, and the Hutson School of Agriculture.
The Ruby Simpson Child Development Center was constructed.
Murray State College achieved university status before its half-century mark. In June, the Kentucky General Assembly designated the school “Murray State University.”
Governor signs the bill to make Murray State a full-fledged university
Mason Hall was completed. The building houses the School of Nursing.
Known as the New Administration Building at the time of its construction, Sparks Hall has housed administrative offices for the past 45 years.
Dr. Harry M. Sparks was chosen as president of Murray State University. He remained in the position until 1973.
The E.B. Howton Agricultural Engineering Building was completed to supplement the activities of the university farm.
Faculty and student representatives were added to the MSU Board of Regents.
The Price Doyle Fine Arts Center, a six-story addition to the original Fine Arts Building, was completed.
MSU cheerleaders, 1974
Faculty Hall was first occupied in January 1971. It houses offices, classrooms, and laboratories for programs in the College of Humanities.
Dr. Constantine W. Curris was named president of the university at the age of 32. He was the youngest individual ever to be named president of major Kentucky college or university and served in the position for ten years.
Roy Stewart Stadium became the home of Murray State football. The stadium has a seating capacity of over 16,000.
The Special Education Building was completed.
The West Kentucky Exposition Center, located adjacent to the A. Carman Pavilion, hosted its first event.
The Curris Center opened. The building is the student center for the university and houses University Recruitment and features a variety ballrooms, dining venues, meeting rooms and the University Store.
Dr. Kala M. Stroup was appointed president of the university, a position she held until 1989.
Dr. Ronald J. Kurth was selected as MSU’s president and served the university for four years.
The Martha Layne Collins Center for Industry and Technology was completed.
Dr. Kern Alexander became Murray State’s ninth president and served the university until 2001.
A staff representative was added to the Board of Regents.
A residential college system was implemented at the university.
The Regional Special Events Center (now the CFSB Center) was completed. The facility is the home of Racer Basketball and also hosts concerts and trade shows.