LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - This year marks the 75th anniversary for McNeese State University.
It was established in 1939 with a class of 140 men and women.
"It was very important to this community to establish a university and we've been so vital to economic development in this area," said Director of Public Relations for McNeese State University, Candace Townsend.
Fast forward 75 years and it's an enrollment of more than 8,000 students.
"We were on the South end of town and there was nothing beyond us," said Townsend. "It was literally pastureland so not only has the university grown, but the city has grown and so has Southwest Louisiana."
The three original buildings on campus were Kaufman Hall, the Arena, and Bulber Auditorium.
"Now we have a multi-building campus, we have the athletic campus, and we have over 2,000 acres of farmland," said Townsend.
Current students are also looking back at the impact of the university by celebrating the history, milestones, and accomplishments.
"It touches my heart that I'm coming to a place that has been around so long and has a good reputation," said McNeese Student, Jennifer Frey.
And proud alumni are continuing traditions and fighting for more.
"We look at curriculums we need to add and we also listen to the students to see what they want," said member of the Black Alumni Association, Ernesteen Valere.
The celebrations are just beginning. Many 75th anniversary events will be held throughout the year.