Tech history student publishes prize-winning research
According to research published recently by Louisiana Tech history graduate student Brittany A. Coffinbargar, the end of World War II brought major changes to Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, as Tech was known from 1921 to 1970. Coffinbargar’s article, “The G.I. Bill of Rights and Physical Plant Development at Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, 1946-1951,” appears in the most recent number of “North Louisiana History,” the quarterly journal of the North Louisiana Historical Association. Coffinbargar’s study received first place in the 2013 Graduate Division of the North Louisiana Historical Association’s annual Overdyke Prize competition for the best research paper on North Louisiana history. Based on thorough consultation of original sources, including archived runs of the student newspaper The Tech Talk and manuscript president’s office records housed at Prescott Memorial Library, Coffinbargar reveals the enormous challenge that confronted wartime college administrators when hostilities finally came to an end in mid-1945. Thanks to financial assistance made available by the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the G.I. Bill, enrollment at the Ruston campus doubled almost overnight, Coffinbargar explains in her research. Enrollment skyrocketed from 828 in spring 1945 to 2,295 in fall 1946. Because Tech did not have physical facilities adequate to accommodate the large number of returning veterans, it became necessary to undertake major construction projects, both permanent and temporary. According to Coffinbargar, the enhancements to Tech’s physical plant made to house and school growing numbers of discharged servicemen did much to establish the campus’s modern form and layout. Projects completed included expansions to existing classroom facilities, such as Bogard Hall and Reese Hall, as well as construction of several new dormitories, among them Adams, Richardson and Cottingham. A 2012 Louisiana Tech graduate, as an undergraduate Brittany Coffinbargar, of Springfield, Ill., competed on the Lady Techsters’ soccer team and was inducted into Tech’s award-winning Lambda-Rho Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society. Currently a second-year master’s degree student in history, Coffinbargar holds a Garnie W. McGinty Graduate Fellowship and is employed as a graduate assistant in the history department.