In 1957, OMA began night-school classes. Now, for the first time, a student could take classes on the Hill without having to become a cadet.
The school had offered a so-called “day-dog” program on and off since 1921, giving local young men the opportunity to study at OMA and live at home, but they still had to wear uniforms and abide by the military-style rules. That requirement became optional in the ‘60s.
Three years later, a blue-ribbon education committee recommended that the school be converted to a co-educational junior college, a suggestion that drew the ire of Col. Ledbetter.
Enrollment was still rising at the time, with 462 enrolled for the fall 1960 semester (a number that included 128 “day dogs”).
By the time Ledbetter announced his retirement, in March of 1964, the population numbered 758, including day and night-school students.
The ‘60s saw the completion of a new barracks, named after World War II hero and OMA grad Walter E. Downs Jr., along with the construction of the Thunderbird Student Lounge. And, with America’s involvement in Viet Nam increasing and new officers needed, there was once again a special need for military schools like OMA.