1933 - 1959
In 1933, Grady Gammage, then president of Arizona State Teachers College at Flagstaff, became president of Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe, a tenure that lasted nearly 28 years. The Graduate division was created and the first master's program was established 1937. On March 8, 1945, the three state institutions of higher learning came under the authority of one Arizona Board of Regents, which still oversees the universities today. Substantial growth of the college began after the end of World War II. President Gammage anticipated that the G.I. Bill of Rights would flood campuses everywhere with returning veterans. Many of the veterans who had received military training in Arizona decided to stay in the state and vowed to return after the war. The numbers within one year were staggering: in the fall semester of 1945, 553 students were enrolled; over the weekend semester break in January 1946 enrollment increased 110% to 1,163 students. Successive semesters saw continuing increased enrollment.
In addition to the enrollment increases, President Gammage oversaw the construction of a number of buildings on the campus and attracted substantial federal funding for construction. His greatest dream of a great auditorium was envisioned with his friend Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed what is now the university's hallmark building, Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium. Construction of Gammage Auditorium was completed in 1964, five years after Gammage's death. President Gammage's greatest achievement was his commitment and work in guiding Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe through the academic changes and physical growth that justified attainment of university status in 1958.