The original Brooklyn College campus as alumni of the 1930's remember it. Classes started here in October 1937 under the guidance of President William A. Boylan, who had done more than most to make the "new" campus possible. He was not to preside for long however. Ill health required him to retire within two years. Taking his place was President Harry D. Gideonse, originally an associate professor of economics at the University of Chicago. One of his first tasks was to reorder the random administration of the college, where, very often, whole faculty committees were responsible for publishing College Bulletins! New academic programs were introduced and older programs modified or improved.
The ambitious programs at Brooklyn College were halted, however, when America entered the second World War. On July 2, 1940, President Gideonse appointed a Committee on Defense, which went to work organizing first aid courses, training for air raids, drills, and the training of pilots for the civilian sector. However, Faculty Council initially rejected proposals for an ROTC unit on campus. By the fall of 1944 male enrollment at Brooklyn College was down to 1,468, but the admission of women was increased. Some students spent the summer of 1942 doing farm work in northern Duchess County, and about 100 never came back; they remained farmers!
Immediately after the war, returning veterans flooded the Brooklyn Campus. In the spring of 1947 alone 5,000 veterans lined up for registration and a second mobilization was necessary to accommodate them all. Even students with weak academic pre-war records were readmitted automatically, but, veterans as a group maintained excellent academic performances. A remarkable performance in an era of high standards.