WMU Campus History

Historical Planning Maps and Reports

Back to Campus History

1970 planning drawing
Over the past 100 years Western Michigan University has dealt with many growth and planning issues.

bullet History of Buildings, Facilities
bullet Construction Summary, 1904 to present

bullet Some planning problems resulted from the original site selection.  Placing the campus on an impressive but steep hill, very near the intersection of major roads and railways, automatically limited physical expansion.

bullet Other growth challenges over the years included building materials shortages during the World Wars, "baby boom" enrollment growth, a major recession in the 70's, and the inevitable ups and downs, both "political" and financial, that come with being a state-funded institution.

bullet The creation of the Normal School affected the city of Kalamazoo as well.  In retrospect many changes seemed commonplace or insignificant, but had a role in growing the city and the university. 

bullet Prospect Hill, the site donated by the city of Kalamazoo, was very quickly nicknamed "Normal Hill" after the Normal School was built.*  Today, most refer to it as simply "East Campus".  

bullet The main road connecting the hilltop with downtown was originally named "Asylum Avenue" after the Michigan Asylum for the Insane (now the Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital).   Within a few years of the Normal School's opening, the road was renamed a more flattering "Oakland Drive".

*To modern ears "normal" is very quaint - it has been years since the term was used to refer to the teacher education system where Training Schools were affiliated with Normal Schools to provide on-site experience.

Under current practice, College of Education majors "intern" at a local school following completion of all required coursework. WMU's Campus Training School was phased out in 1966.





Planning Division of Facilities Management; Mail #5313
1903 W. Michigan Ave.
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5313 USA
(269) 387-8543 or 387-8544 | (269) 387-8818 Fax


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Kalamazoo, MI  49008-5313