In 1938, Louisiana founded McNeese State University, then known as the Lake Charles Junior College, as a division of Louisiana State University. The opening session of the college began on September 11, 1939. The following fall, the school changed its name to John McNeese Junior College to honor John McNeese, a renowned South-west Louisiana educator and the first superintendent of schools in Imperial Calcasieu Parish. In 1950 McNeese became a four-year college in its own right and came under the authority of the Louisiana Board of Education. Finally, in 1970, McNeese State University became the official name of the school.
McNeese achieved Commission on Colleges/Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation in 1954 and maintains its regional accreditation status as a Level IV institution authorized to award associate, bachelor, master, and specialist degrees. The University also provides opportunities for continuing education in support of its mission to value lifelong learning. As a member of the University of Louisiana System and a selective admissions institution, McNeese offers degrees through six academic colleges: Business, Education, Engineering and Technology, Liberal Arts, Nursing, and Science. McNeese's student body comprises over 8,500 students from throughout Louisiana, the United States, and approximately 50 countries. McNeese's athletic programs are NCAA-certified for competition at I-AA and I-A levels. The football team achieved national prominence when it advanced to the national playoffs in 1997 and 2002.
The McNeese State University campus in Lake Charles, Louisiana features 68 buildings on 500 acres dotted with live oak trees and azalea bushes. The McNeese community continues to use the three original structures - Kaufman Hall, Ralph O. Ward Memorial Gym (the Arena), and Francis G. Bulber Auditorium. Bulber Auditorium, a striking example of Art Deco architecture, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
McNeese State University upholds a long tradition of service to the Southwest Louisiana community and the nation. The University's motto of "Excellence with a Personal Touch" extends beyond the classroom to offering help to others in times of need. During World War II, the campus was the headquarters of the Louisiana Maneuvers, an extensive military exercise to prepare American soldiers for battle. In 1957, the McNeese community gave aid and comfort to the victims of Hurricane Audrey and served as the National Guard's base of rescue operations. Recently, McNeese provided shelter for New Orleans residents and university students fleeing Hurricane Katrina. McNeese faced one of its greatest challenges when Hurricane Rita struck in the fall of 2005. The storm caused devastating damage to campus facilities and infrastructure. The recovery effort after Hurricane Rita showed the community of Southwest Louisiana the high caliber of McNeese faculty, staff, and students in their commitment to complete the semester and move forward in support of the core values of academic excellence, student success, fiscal responsibility, and university/community alliances.
McNeese State University, a selective admissions institution, provides education, research, and service that support our core values of academic excellence, student success, fiscal responsibility, and university-community alliances. The University's fundamental educational mission is to offer associate, baccalaureate, and specific graduate curricula distinguished by academic excellence. The University engages in collaborative ventures to benefit industry and to enhance economic development and cultural growth in this region and beyond.