WVU in the 1950s
During the late 1940s and 1950s, while Senator Joseph McCarthy was in power in Congress, there were threats to academic freedom throughout the country, as Americans feared the Soviet Union during the Cold War. WVU survived this period of McCarthyism much better than did some other institutions.The U.S. Supreme Court, in May 1954, handed down the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, decision, which determined that “separate” was not “equal” in terms of education. Many southern states actively resisted this order to desegregate schools, but President Stewart (pictured at left) announced that WVU would obey the court’s order.
Jack Hodge became the first known African American student to earn an undergraduate degree from WVU, a B.S. in journalism. John Reuben Sheeler became the first known African American to receive a Ph.D. from WVU when he earned his doctorate in history in 1954.
Dress codes and curfews were still very important during the 1950s, especially for female students. Freshmen women had a curfew of 7:30 p.m. for the first four nights of the week and 11:00 p.m. on weekends.