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"The Exigencies of War": The Army Specialized Training Program and Washington University, 1942-1945

  • Author(s): Silverman, Jennifer Ann
  • Advisor(s): Nash, Margaret A
  • et al.

The Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) was the largest military training program during World War II. The program, created to meet "the exigencies of war," included developing the Army's manpower supply while training soldiers to meet the technological challenges of the war. In addition, the program also sought to reduce the impact of decreasing enrollments in higher education. To this end, the military partnered with over 220 colleges and universities who then provided training in engineering, foreign language and area studies, personnel psychology, and medical sciences which included dentistry, medicine and, veterinary sciences. The purpose of this study was to examine the ways in which the ASTP impacted higher education. In addition, this study explores how administrators met the demands of this wartime program. A review of the historiography reveals little information about the program's impact beyond its military goals. In order to understand the role of the ASTP in higher education, a case study method was employed. Washington University in St. Louis, MO was selected as the site for investigation. The institution provided a rich historical context due to its size, status as a private institution, and its location within a developing urban area. Data for this study includes primary documents from Washington University's archives, the Missouri State Historical Society along with local and national newspapers. Findings from this research assert that changes to higher education generally attributed to the GI Bill in 1944, began prior to the Bill's implementation due to higher education's involvement in war training programs. Results also identify the ways in which Washington University began the process of expansion and accommodation prior to the GI Bill. Lastly, the study reveals how administrators at Washington University leveraged the institution's agency through its participation in the ASTP in an effort to grow and develop the institution while increasing its prestige in the postwar period.

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