Once upon a time, there was a bowling alley in the Trojan Center where the fitness center is now. Students were able to fish, canoe and swim in the Lagoon, and Pace Hall used to function as the sorority house. Times have definitely changed.
In the 127 years since its establishment, Troy has changed on multiple fronts. From its official name to its physical infrastructure, from enrollment numbers to the very structure of student life, many transitions have taken place.
“I remember a lot of us in the dorms planning our schedules around TV shows so that we can make sure that at like 2 o’clock, we are running back to the dorm so that we can all watch like ‘General Hospital’ together,” said Sabrina Foster, Troy alumna, undergraduate Class of 1999 and graduate Class of 2001. “Nobody does that anymore.”
Foster said that she really misses the old dining hall where all the students hung out. Faculty members also dined there. “You knew when it was fried chicken day because the line was out the door,” she said.
Troy had also not moved into the semester system and was still following the quarter system when Foster began her studies. She preferred the quarter system, as three short terms within the year made them study more but also gave them more breaks. Christmas break extended all the way from Thanksgiving to January, and there were two weeks of spring break.
The biggest change for Foster has been the increase of diversity among the student population. “When I was an undergrad, we had some international students. We didn’t have as many as we do now. So culturally it really just exploded, and I love it,” she said.
“Troy was a whole lot smaller back then,” said alumnus Joe Wingard, Class of 1984. “There was not near as much business as there is now up and down Highway 231. There was only about three places to eat.”
According to Wingard, stargazing on the golf course, going to movie nights that took place in Smith Hall, driving out of Troy to have a bonfire or heading to Panama City for the weekend were students’ options for fun, similar to what students do even now.
He also said that they spent a lot of time in the dorm lobbies watching television because having a television of your own in your room was a privilege just for the wealthy students.
Sara Jo Burks, assistant director of housing and residence life, has been working for the university for over 26 years and recalls many of Troy’s older traditions. “I can remember when the Troy University football team was called the Red Wave,” she said.
Another discontinued Troy ritual is riding a horse up and down the football field after the team scored. “There was a young lady that brought her big horse called Big Red, and we loved Big Red,” Burks said. “He would ride out on the field, and she was (called) the Trojan Warrior Princess.”
Wingard, whose two sons currently attend Troy, said that despite the growth of the university, it still has the personality of a small college.
“Troy’s classes are still small-sized and still have some individuality,” he said. “Teachers are on a first- and last-name basis, and you can get as much one-on-one time with professors.”
Burks said that even though the college has changed in appearance, looking prettier each year, people’s devotion toward students has stayed constant over the years.
“All the people that work on the campus genuinely have, for the most part, a love of the students, and they enjoy helping them and enjoying being a part of their lives,” she said. “I guess just seeing things grow and improve and things get nicer and prettier, it’s something to be proud of. A lot of Trojan pride develops.”