University assists WWII efforts

by Bill Caldwell

Outwardly the campus is the same as it was before September 1, 1939 when Nazi legions invaded Poland.
True, a few more olive drab or navy blue uniforms are visible. But student life is still as unregimented and carefree as ever.
“What’s your draft number?” is still a major conversational topic when students get together, but it has lost its sting.
Inwardly, in administration offices and in laboratories work is going forward to perfect America’s national defense.
Minnesota is doing all it can for national defense, and that is quite a share.
In University laboratories and offices research is going on night and day for the national research defense council, the agency in charge of all national defense research.
Many of these research projects are so secret that professors don’t know what their colleagues in the same department are doing. Data covering these projects are closely guarded secrets in University files.
Members of the staff take frequent business-like trips to Washington D.C. or other cities, to confer with various national defense agencies or attend important committee meetings. Staff members are in important posts as advisers, consultants or members of national defense committees.
Forty important staff members have been given leaves of absence to serve in confidential positions of great importance on army and navy projects.
Regular University curricula has been modified to incorporate new material relating to defense. Medical students are studying aviation medicine and effects of poison gas. Engineers are studying ultra-high frequency communication useful in code messages and the chemistry and testing of powder and explosives.
Military training facilities for the Reserve Officers Training Corps and the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps have been expanded, as has the University’s Civil Aeronautics training to build up a reserve of pilots.
A special University committee for the deferment of military service has been set up to aid students and keep a backlog of men training for vital defense jobs. Also, a special committee investigated the physical condition of University draftees and inaugurated a voluntary physical education program for them.
Overseeing all of these agencies and defense works is the committee on University facilities and resources set up in the spring of 1940 by President Guy Stanton Ford. The committee’s job is coordinating requests for the participation of various departments in phases of the national defense program.