In August 1941, Clark Junior College was preparing to open for fall in its new home -- Vancouver's old Franklin School building. To mark the occasion, The Clark County Sun newspaper printed a 12-page special section about the college.
Just four months later, students sat on wooden benches in the college hall, listening to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech to Congress and the nation on the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed.
His words would send America into a new era, and Clark Junior College along with it.
The 1942 issue of The Galapagon yearbook noted the nation's war efforts in its dedication:
We, the students of Clark Junior College, in order to express a small part of the deep sentiment which fills our hearts, take pleasure in dedicating this 1942 issue of the Galapagon to our students, among the few to whom we owe so much, the former students of Clark Junior who are now serving the armed forces of the United States of America.
Enrollment dwindled as U.S. involvement in World War II increased. For a short time, high school teachers took over for Clark instructors on leave for war-related duty.
By June of 1943, Clark Junior College was running ads for its classes to support the war effort. That fall, with attendance declining, the college focused on evening classes. Those classes were held in Vancouver High School.
By December 1943, the focus was on the future and plans for a new campus for the college in the McLoughlin Heights area of Vancouver.
By January 1944, attendance was still declining. The college made plans for its next semester but warned that it might have to temporarily close its doors unless registration increased.
Historical records are unclear as to exactly when the college closed. Newspaper stories reflect limited activities during 1944 -- primarily exhibits by art students at the college.
In fall 1945, with the war ended, the college made plans to reopen. When Clark opened its doors on January 21, 1946, students could choose from courses in economic geography (taught by Dean Lewis Cannell), modern literature, English composition, economics, psychology, shorthand and art. The college also introduced a vocational program: engineering drawing.
The college received an additional vote of confidence when, on December 13, 1948, the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools (known today as the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities) announced that it had granted accreditation to Clark Junior College.
All of these factors, along with an influx of returning veterans and legislative changes making Clark part of the Vancouver School District, would propel the college and the community into a booming post-war direction.