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The Emory Junior College at Valdosta
It was a bit of a stretch—two hundred twenty-five miles, in fact—but when the town of Valdosta, Georgia, reached out to Emory with forty-three acres in hand in the early years of the University's existence, Emory's trustees took the offer. In 1928 the University established its third and southernmost campus twenty minutes from the Florida border. Men who completed the two-year curriculum were offered the prospect of moving to the big city of Atlanta to finish their college work at Emory.
Beginning with a single building for classrooms and offices for the seven faculty and staff members (students boarded in the town), the Emory Junior College at Valdosta welcomed fifty students its first year and averaged fewer than seventy during its entire existence. A dormitory was built in 1931, and in 1936 Centennial Swimming Pool marked the University's hundredth anniversary and rounded out the campus facilities. When World War II nearly shut down the pipeline of students entering the college, however, University administrators closed the campus in 1942 for the duration of the war and moved its faithful remnant to Druid Hills. .
The end of the war and the beginning of the G.I. Bill brought a flood of new students to Valdosta, pushing enrollment at the junior college to 247. The college acquired a couple of surplus army buildings to provide a gymnasium and a second dormitory, which the students quickly dubbed "Swamp Hall" in honor of nearby Okefenokee Swamp. In 1951 Freshman Hall swelled the residence space available on campus.
But boom times could not last. The regents of the University System of Georgia determined to bring coeducation to the cross-town campus of Georgia State Women's College, renaming it Valdosta State College. The competition for relatively few male college students in the area—not to mention the lower tuition at the state-funded school—spelled inevitable doom. With only sixty-five students enrolled in the spring of 1953, Emory faced continuing deficits at its southern campus. "Swamp Hall" was not the only quagmire Emory's trustees faced at Valdosta. They decided to offer the junior college campus to the University System of Georgia, and in May 1953 the south Georgia piece of Emory history passed out of existence to become part of what now is Valdosta State University. .
Source. Hauk, Gary S. A Legacy of Heart and Mind. Emory Since 1836.
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Last updated: October 11, 2007