History of the College of Arts and Letters – Rachel Godin

The College of Arts and Letters has changed dramatically over the years at Idaho State University. The differences between the school years 1917-1918, 1927-1928, 1937-1938, and 1947-1948 highlight what changes occurred, and how much the college has grown. Originally, the College of Arts and Letters was called the College of Letters and Science. It included not only social sciences as it does today, but also biological sciences.[1]

In the 1917-1918 school year, there were only 297 students enrolled in the College of Letters and Science as a whole, including graduate students. The college included a variety of programs such as various sciences, music, home economics, forest curricula, languages, and history.[2] Edward M. Hulme, the dean of the college at the time, explained that the low enrollment numbers were due to the ongoing war, now known as World War I. With a mandatory draft for men over the age of 18, college enrollment numbers overall had declined, which Idaho State recognized.[3] Even with lower enrollment, the College of Letters and Science was the largest college on campus and contained over half the student population at Idaho State University.[4]

By the 1927-1928 school year, the number of students enrolled in the College of Letters and Science had more than doubled to 683. Additional programs in music education, pre-medical studies, pre-nursing studies, and architecture had been added. The College of Letters and Science continued to be the largest college in the university, with the most diverse set of programs.[5] Some of this growth could also be explained by the addition of the College of Agriculture. It was no longer a separate college and was overseen by the College of Letters and Science, adding to the number of total students in the college.[6]

During the 1937-1938 school year, due to the reorganization of the college, only 384 students were considered enrolled in the College of Letters and Science.[7] The College of Agriculture was once again separated and considered its own college, which accounts for the apparent dramatic decrease in enrollment numbers.[8] The college did, however, gain a new program of study called military science and tactics, created with the goal to qualify students for leadership positions during the time of national emergency.[9] With the reorganization of the college, the junior college containing 127 students was also absorbed into the College of Letters and Science, bringing the actual total enrollment number to 511. However, these students were listed in a separate category for comparison to previous years which explains why at first glance the enrollment numbers dropped.[10]

Enrollment in the College of Letters and Science increased dramatically in the 1947-1948 school year to a total of 1,242 students.[11] A reorganization of the college to decrease the number of departments occurred. The new college now included the departments of: art and architecture, biological sciences, English and allied subjects, home economics, mathematics, music, physical sciences, and social sciences.[12] Military Science and Tactics became a separate entity from the College of Letters and Science. Even with these changes, a large number of students were still considered a part of the college. [13]

Considering the changes that took place to the College of Letters and Science over 30 years, between the 1917-1918 and 1947-1948 school years, it is clear that the college had grown significantly. Continued changes and growth allowed the college to become the College of Arts and Letters as it is known today. Home of more than 35 undergraduate and graduate programs, everything from communications, foreign languages, fine arts, it remains the largest college at Idaho State University.[14]

-Rachel Godin

[1] Idaho State Board of Education. Third Biennial Report of the State Board of Education. Vol. 5. (Boise, ID: State Board of Education, 1919), 92.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 98.

[4] Ibid, 92.

[5] Idaho State Board of Education. Eighth Biennial Report of the State Board of Education. Vol 14. (Boise, ID: State Board of Education, 1928), 74.

[6] Ibid, 79.

[7] Idaho State Board of Education. Thirteenth Biennial Report of the State Board of Education. Vol. 24. (Boise, ID: State Board of Education, 1938), 124.

[8] Ibid, 149.

[9] Ibid, 148.

[10] Ibid, 125 and 145.

[11] Idaho State Board of Education. Eighteenth Biennial Report of the State Board of Education. Vol. 34. (Boise, ID: State Board of Education, 1948), A-7.

[12] Ibid, A-8 to A-10.

[13] Ibid, A-12.

[14] Turley- Ames, Kandi. “Office of the Dean- College of Arts and Letters.” Idaho State University. Accessed December 04, 2018. https://www.isu.edu/cal/about/office-of-the-dean/.