SOUTH BEND — In its early days during the 1960s, Indiana University South Bend wasn't a campus — it was one building, Northside Hall, filled with area residents of all ages who shared the dream of earning college degrees.
Many of those early students had full-time jobs, spouses and children, and attended classes in the evening.
"There were so many people of so many different backgrounds," recalls John Toth, 80, of South Bend, an adjunct lecturer in speech at the fledgling campus from 1965 to 1968 and a full-time professor there from 1971 to 1978. "I had students of all ages and all walks of life who were all trying to better themselves."
He remembers the young campus as a welcoming, vibrant place that drew many students who were the first generation in their families to attend college.
IU South Bend is celebrating its Jubilee, the 50th anniversary of awarding its first degrees.
There were 31 graduates in the Class of 1967. Twenty-eight earned bachelor's degrees, and three earned two-year certificates in business. More than half were education majors.
The 1960s drew large numbers of women students, many of whom were already married and raising children, but who wanted the advantage of a college degree to pursue careers in teaching or other fields, Toth says. Most of the students, including those who were working full-time jobs, were very intent on their studies, he says.
Toth grew up in South Bend and remembers the city's dark days following the 1963 closing of the Studebaker auto factory, which left 7,000 people without jobs. The campus was two years old then.
"One of the bright lights at the time was the fact IUSB was here, and later Ivy Tech (Community College), and they were going to lift the community up again," he said. "And I really think they did."
First classes in 1915
IU began offering college classes in South Bend in 1915, according to university records. For decades, college classes were taught in the evenings at South Bend Central High School. It wasn't until 1961 that the IU satellite program, as it was called, got its own building on Northside Boulevard.