Moments that define Wayne State University

Wayne State University: 150 years in the heart of Detroit

April 25

1961

Wayne State purchases the First Church of Christ, Scientist and converts it into the Hilberry Theatre, the nation’s first and now longest-running graduate repertory theatre. #wsu150
 

Archive

1920s

Students from the College of the City of Detroit participate in a tug-of-war during freshman class rush, which was held on Belle Isle throughout the 1920s and ’30s.
 

1987

Wayne State begins construction on the Faculty/Administration Building. Now commonly known as FAB, it was completed in 1990. 
 

1970s

Students relax and play outside the Student Center Building. Today, this is where the Mort Harris Recreation and Fitness Center stands.

2010

Wayne State is the first university in the nation to offer an electric-drive vehicle engineering program.
 

1928

Elinore Batie earns a degree in chemical engineering, making her the first female graduate in the College of Engineering.

2004

Wayne State hosts a FIRST Robotics Competition on campus for local high school teams. 

1991

The former student center, David Mackenzie Hall, is demolished by implosion.

1960

Wayne State’s photography motion picture department shows off its skills.

1957

Students enjoy a quick lunch on the stairs of Old Main.

1950s

Choir students practice Handel’s Messiah.

1935

Students attend art class in Old Main.

1940s

A row of residential buildings on Warren Avenue serves as a hub for Wayne University laboratories and classrooms. The arrows show the Administration Building, Home Economics Building, Plastics Laboratory and the Building and Grounds Department.

1997

Following a three-year, $41.8 million renovation, Wayne State debuts the new-and-improved Old Main.

1949

The cafeteria in Wayne University’s student center, Webster Hall, opens.

1939

Biology students get a closer look as they inspect skeletons.

1959

Following a statewide election, the first Board of Governors is sworn in at Wayne State University.

1934

The obsolete clock in Old Main’s tower is replaced by an electrically driven No. 4 Telechron clock. #wsu150
 

1886

Angus McLean graduates from the Detroit College of Medicine. During World War I, he organized Base Hospital 17 with staff from Harper Hospital.

1990s

Civil engineering students survey metro Detroit roads for infrastructure research. 

1960s

The Wayne State Tolerance Curve is used to establish the head injury criterion for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. 

1989

Bruce White constructs the Helios Trail, a sculpture that stands outside Wayne State’s College of Engineering.

1930s

Students attend a geology lecture.

1937

The men’s fencing team is established.

1970

College of Engineering students show off their vehicle for the Clean Air Car Race. The 1970 team — the first to win a national competition for Wayne State — introduced an emission control system design that’s now produced in virtually every car sold in the United States. 

1975

The Wayne State Geology Field Camp visits the Top of the World Bar in Montana’s Beartooth Mountains. 

1965

Students at the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute speak with honorary trustee and world-renowned cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead.

1948

Wayne University receives World War II surplus machinery — including a Boeing airplane — from the Engineering, Science and Management War Training program.

1949

A student reviews the “simplified appointment system” for class registration. 

1963

Old Main is in full bloom during the spring.

1950s

A researcher stands in the Mechanical Engineering Constant Temperature Room. 

1900

This picture shows the 1900 class of the Detroit College of Medicine, a predecessor of the Wayne State School of Medicine. 

1918

Kelly green and “old gold” are adopted as the school colors of Detroit Junior College, a predecessor of Wayne State.

1945

A general chemistry class meets in Old Main.

1990s

The Formula SAE Warrior Racing team goes to great lengths to test its machinery. 

1900

Dr. Burt Shurly and Dr. Augustus Ives teach a physiology class.

1918

Detroit Junior College publishes the first edition of its student newspaper, The Collegian. This picture shows the staff in 1924. The Collegian was later replaced by @TheSouthEnd in 1967. #wsu150
 

1950s

Students declare their affinity for shorts during the 1950s

1935

Students run a test (possibly on a kymograph or polygraph) in psychology class. Today, our psychology department is ranked among the top 100 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. 

1940s

During the 1940s, a growing student body led to crowded conditions in buildings such as Mackenzie Hall (pictured). This resulted in campus expansion in the early 1950s.

1947

Veteran enrollment peaks at 7,685 students — roughly 40 percent of the student population.

1967

Marion Barnhart, Ph.D., is the first woman to become a professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

1970s

During the 1970s, Wayne State faculty member Manuel Madayag pioneers a thinner, less invasive biopsy needle that becomes known as the Madayag needle. 

1971

Theatre students embark on a two-month U.S.O. tour of American bases in Germany, marking the fourth time that Wayne State students were selected to take plays abroad. #wsu150
 

1966

Wayne State establishes its Department of Public Safety, which is staffed by deputized and armed police officers.
 

1959

The Richard Cohn Building is completed to serve as the home of the College of Nursing. 

1948

The university awards the first doctoral degree in biochemistry.

2005

Alumnus William O’Neill, M.D., is the first in the country to perform an aortic valve replacement through a catheter. A leader in interventional cardiology, Dr. O’Neill pioneered the use of angioplasty to treat heart attacks.

1961

Wayne State University purchases Chatsworth Tower and Chatsworth Annex. Built in 1928, Chatsworth Tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

1953

The General Library is completed. Later renamed G. Flint Purdy Library, it is now part of Purdy/Kresge Library. 

1952

Radio station WDET is donated to Wayne University by the UAW. 

1969

The Student Center is completed.

2009

Wayne State’s African Democracy Project (ADP) is founded by FOCIS in collaboration with Wayne State Honors and the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity. The ADP has traveled to countries including Mozambique, Botswana, Ghana and Liberia.

1928

The College of Pharmacy is founded.

2011

The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights opens at WSU to study and support the civil rights of underrepresented communities in urban areas. 

1927

Tartars are adopted as the school mascot of City College, a predecessor of Wayne State. 

1962

Wayne State signs contracts with Dillard and Tuskegee universities that pave the way for partnerships to prepare African American nursing faculty.  go.wayne.edu/wsu150 #wsu150 #blackhistorymonth Image courtesy of @ReutherLibrary.
 

 1949

The Wayne Law Moot Court is founded to help students hone their written and oral advocacy skills. 

1949

Wayne University becomes the second college in the country to install and run its own lithograph shop. The Student Activities Division funded the business, which was known as the University Print Shop. #wsu150
 

1914

This 1914 drawing depicts the J4 Quartette, a musical group comprised of students from the Detroit College of Medicine and Surgery, a predecessor of the Wayne State University School of Medicine. #wsu150
 

1957

The mobile newsreel unit of the university’s TV station, WTVS-TV Channel 56, films a segment in 1957. 

1973

As part of a seminar on death and disease in ancient Egypt, School of Medicine researchers perform an autopsy on Pum II, a mummy on loan from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

2017

Alumni Mary and @Paulglantz, who met during a class at Wayne State, participate in the launch of the #warriorstrong campaign. 
 

2012

Street Medicine Detroit, a student organization in the School of Medicine that provides medical care to the city’s homeless residents, is founded.

1933

Federal relief funds assigned through the New Deal allow for remodeling at the Main Building, which is later renamed Old Main.

1987

Alexa Canady, M.D., joins the School of Medicine faculty. The nation’s first female African American neurosurgeon, Canady would stay at Wayne State until her retirement in 2001. 

1952

Alumnus Abraham Nemeth (Ph.D. ’64) develops a Braille code for math and science notations, allowing blind scholars to pursue studies in many fields. #wsu150 ://go.wayne.edu/wsu150 
Image courtesy of @ReutherLibrary.
 

1965

The Frederick C. Matthaei Physical Education and Recreation Building is constructed as part of Detroit’s bid for the 1968 Olympics. The Summer Games would ultimately take place in Mexico City, with the Matthaei becoming part of WSU’s campus. 
 

1952

Wayne State researcher Forest Dewey Dodrill, M.D., and General Motors engineers design a machine to temporarily replace the blood-pumping function of the heart, making open-heart surgery possible.
 

2014

Alumna Sonya Tayeh (CFPCA ’02) teaches a master class at Wayne State. The two-time Emmy Award-winning choreographer is best known for her work on the TV show So You Think You Can Dance.

1987

The drug AZT, created by Wayne State professor and researcher Jerome P. Horwitz, becomes the first federally approved treatment for AIDS.

1966

To accommodate campus pedestrians, Second Avenue north of Warren is closed to vehicular traffic and ultimately becomes Gullen Mall.

1952

Law School alumna Cora Brown becomes the first African American woman in the country to be elected to a state senate.

1925

The College of Pharmacy graduates its first five pharmacists including Katie Moy Lim, the first female and first Chinese graduate of the college.

2013

WSU faculty members Robert Harr and Paul Karchin are part of the research team awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering the Higgs boson, also known as "the God particle" — the most sought-after particle in the history of physics.

1975

Wayne State University awards Rosa Parks an honorary degree.

1881

The Detroit Normal Training School, a predecessor of the College of Education, is founded. The Washington School building, pictured, would serve as its home from 1895 to 1914. 
 

2002

Playwright Neil Simon visits Wayne State University’s College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts for a master class. 

2012

Wayne State students and faculty conduct an archaeological dig in Roosevelt Park. 

1960s

The Wayne State Tolerance Curve is used to establish the head injury criterion for federal motor vehicle safety standards.

1968

Wayne State unveils special edition logos recognizing the university’s centennial. #wsu150
 

1937

Students pose for a group photo during the J-Hop dance at the Fountain Ballroom in the Masonic Temple.

1980s

Alumnus Casey Kasem (B.S. ’58) represents Wayne State in the university’s promotional materials.

1935

Women practice archery in a gymnasium once housed in Old Main.

1922

The Cheese Gang, a freshman disciplinary student organization, is founded. The Cheese Gang would later become the Chega fraternity, which affiliated with the national fraternity Phi Sigma Epsilon in 1942.

2001

Wayne State breaks ground on the Welcome Center and bookstore.

1945

Our College of Nursing is founded.

1999

Wayne State launches the OneCard with a “card-cutting” ceremony in the Student Center. 

1953

Science Library construction is completed on campus.

1987

WSU dedicates the Frederick Linsell House as the Office of the Dean for the College of Fine and Performing Arts.

1956

John Wayne hosts the "Miss Wayne University" pageant on campus as part of the promotional tour for his film, The Searchers. 

1994

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recognizes Wayne State as a top-tier research university.

1918

Since its formation in 1918, the university’s student council has held regular elections, such as this one (date unknown).

1994

 Wayne State students gain access to Gopher, a pre-HTML form of internet linking academic institutions across the country.

1936

The Main Building (now Old Main) houses individual schools and colleges including the Detroit City Law School, Detroit Teachers College and the College of Pharmacy. Here, College of Pharmacy students are pictured working in a laboratory. 

1945

The SS Wayne Victory, a World War II cargo ship named after Wayne University, is launched. The ship served the military throughout the remainder of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. 

1940s

After WWII, veterans attended Wayne University in record numbers. The influx of students led the university to set up temporary classrooms and use neighborhood homes to meet space demands. #wsu150

1935

Wayne State College of Education teachers support area schools. #wsu150

1950

Wayne State opens first university computational lab in the Midwest. #wsu150
 

1988

Alumna Lily Tomlin receives an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Wayne State University. #wsu150

1923

The first sorority on campus, An-Tik-Lik (later known as Alpha Theta Sigma), is established.
 

1957

Wayne University’s WTVS-TV broadcasts an educational program, Preschooler, as part of the College of Education’s community outreach. 
 

1951

Wayne University acquires the Temple Beth-El, which goes on to become the Bonstelle Theatre. Prior to the acquisition, students has conducted rehearsals in campus-adjacent houses due to lack of space. #wsu150
 

1968

Twelve WSU students form a track and field team, the Roadrunners, and go on to win first place in the Michigan Wheelchair Games. Five members of the team ultimately compete as part of the 1968 U.S. Paralympic Team. #wsu150
 

1950

“Old Main” becomes the official name of the former Central High School space, now Wayne State University’s most iconic building. #wsu150
 

1868

The Detroit Medical College, a predecessor of Wayne State University, is founded by five Civil War physicians.