Normal School #4
State Normal School, District #4, was authorized by the Missouri General Assembly on March 17, 1905. With a pledge by local business leaders of $25,000 and a 38-acre tract on the corner of National and Grand streets, State Normal School #4 was sited in Springfield on July 26, 1905. W.T. Carrington, who was serving as State Superintendent of Schools, was selected as the school’s first president. He served until 1918.
The decision to hire Carrington as the first president of the fledgling institution was a stroke of genius on the part of the Board. Carrington was thoroughly familiar with Springfield, having served as principal of its high school from 1887-92 and again from 1895-99. He left to become State Superintendent of Education where he was serving when the Board elected him president of State Normal School #4 in January of 1906.
Carrington himself was a product of State Normal School #1 in Kirksville where he took a Master of Scientific Didactics degree. His AB degree was from McGee College, and he did additional work at Westminster College and the University of Missouri. He was a passionate advocate for Normal Schools in Missouri and pleaded their case repeatedly before the state legislature. While he was a man of great vision, he was also quite willing “to start from where he was rather than from where he might wish he were,” according to Roy Ellis, a student at the time of Carrington’s service, and subsequently the third president of the new institution.
By 1913, State Normal School #4 was awarding a four-year Bachelor in Education degree, anticipating the new status and a new name, Southwest Missouri State Teachers College, granted in 1919. The Normal School era ended in 1919 with its catalog listing 179 college courses and 61 high school courses. The enrollment stood at 499.