World War I had a major impact on UNB with three hundred graduates and undergraduates volunteering for military service over the four year period. Enrolment which had been a respectable 148 in l909, plummeted to 72 in l9l8.
The first half of the twentieth century was, moreover, a formative period for post-secondary education throughout the Maritime provinces. During the early decades of this century, the University of New Brunswick and other Maritime universities received a large portion of their funding from the Carnegie Foundation who consequently had a major impact on higher education in the region. The Carnegie Foundation favoured a confederation of Maritime universities and colleges. The University of New Brunswick decided to remain independent and took measures to enable itself to do so.
In addition to seeking greater support from the provincial government, UNB embarked on a fund raising campaign to finance expansion of their physical facilities. Memorial Hall, which was dedicated in l925, would not only honour the war dead but also provide a much needed convocation hall and laboratory space for science departments. A year earlier, alumni had inaugerated the Half-Million Dollar Endowment Fund in an effort to ensure ongoing financial independence for the university.
In the post-war years the university found a major private benefactor in Lord Beaverbrook. The beginning of the Beaverbrook Undergraduate Scholarships in l920 was followed by the donation of the Lady Beaverbrook Residence in l930 and the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium in l940.
When Norman (Larry) MacKenzie became president in l94l, the university had already plunged into the Second World War. Registration declined. The C.O.T.C. was a prominent feature of university life. The Dept. of Electrical Engineering gave courses in radar detection for the Navy and Air Force. Throughout his time in office, (l941-l944), the war effort took up much of MacKenzie's time and frequently took him away from the university.
It fell to Milton Gregg, who became President in l944, to undertake the mammoth task of reorganization necessary in the aftermath of the Second World War and the huge influx of veterans who tripled the university enrolment from 401 students in l945 to 1280 students in l947, only two years later. Alexander College came into being as a second temporary campus where five hundred students lived and attended classes in a former army training centre. Academic staff quadrupled. The decentralization begun under MacKenzie continued as faculties were organized for Arts, Forestry, Engineering and Science.
This collection reflects the intimacy of a small, provincial institution in which personal contact among parents, students, alumni, faculty and the University President was common. Much of the correspondence is from individuals who wrote directly to the President requesting calendars and information on degree programs, seeking letters of reference, and interceding on a number of personal matters.
The impact of two World Wars is well documented in the many letters from overseas, from both servicemen who were former students and teaching applicants. Frequently there was correspondence from various government war departments soliciting the help of the President for war-related tasks. Also clearly indicated was the influx of returning soldiers wanting to attend UNB (after both World Wars). Of particular interest is the correspondence from refugees seeking sponsors, employment, or education in Canada.
Much of the correspondence in the 1920s reflects the involvement of the Carnegie Foundation with higher education in the Maritimes. Their numerous donations, especially books; the conferences they organized and the activities of the Central Advisory Committee on Education in the Maritime Provinces and Newfoundland were all duly reported to the UNB President.
The construction of the Memorial Building, Lady Beaverbrook Residence and Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium generated considerable correspondence from architects, contractors and financial advisors. Support for the Endowment Fund by concerned Alumni is reflected by letters accompanying their donations.
2. Author Indices : done at item level for Series One and Four, and at file level for Series Two and Three. The choice of personal or corporate name as the appropriate one to be indexed was based on the contents of the piece of correspondence. If the content was personal, the individual's name was entered in the index. Business or official correspondence was entered under the corporate name. In some instances, both a personal and corporate name was indexed. In Series Two and Three, the only authors indexed were those whose correspondence was described in the highlights.
3. Subject Indices : done at file level based on highlights. Time constraints prevented preparation of more detailed subject indexing. [Index in process : 23/04/1993]