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Time Shift: 1971-2021


A photo of the mountaineer mascot in 1971 merged with the mountaineer mascot today.

Written by Mikenna Pierotti

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In just the last few decades, the freshman experience at WVU has changed dramatically — from the number of students spilling onto our campus to what they lugged with them on Move-in Day. We took a look back at another unique year on campus — 1971 — exactly 50 years ago, to see how things have transformed. The year 2021 – with ever-smarter technology in our pockets, a pandemic raging and political tensions around the world – looks quite a bit different on the outside from the era of Vietnam, student protests and civil rights wins. But many things remain unchanged: the Mountaineer spirit, the excitement of a new year and an unwavering hope for the future. Tell us about your freshman year in the comments below.


  • Ban on radio and TV cigarette ads  
  • First Starbucks opens in Seattle 
  • Amtrak starts service 
  • Walt Disney World opens 
  • Mariner 9 launched toward Mars 
  • Voting age lowered to 18  


Unemployment: 5.9 percent

Median Family income: $10,400

Minimum Wage:  $1.60

Expected Job Growth: Service industry, including retail, finance, government and healthcare


Photo of man wearing plaid suit and other man wearing brown perhaps velvet suit and looking through binoculars.

Men: Belted turtlenecks, flared jeans, lots of plaid suits and even bodysuit underwear

Two women wearing tights and short shorts, one with a furry jacket and the other in a vest and hat.

Women: Velour pantsuits, shirt-dresses, hot pants

Fashion was becoming more affordable, more mass produced, more equitable with women wearing jeans even to class (until 1993, it was the unofficial rule on the floor of the US Senate that women weren’t supposed to wear pants) and short shorts and, of course, more synthetic (so begins the Polyester Decade).

Student Experience

Cathy Mams Orndorff, Elkins, W.Va., BS ’75, MA ’81

Yearbook photo of Cathy Mams Orndorff.

“I made some wonderful friends through the honoraries through my college years. I was in Li-Toon-Awa, Chimes and Mortarboard. I was in the Collegiate 4-H Club and helped start a group called SPACE where we took special education students on outings like football and basketball games, picnics, the movies, etc. I also was a Resident Assistant my junior year at Arnold.

The strongest motivation for me was that I wanted to do well and get a degree because my Mom had to quit college during the war.

I brought some clothes, a toaster, a popcorn popper and an electric typewriter. 

Up to that point, we were only allowed to wear skirts and dresses to high school, so my Mom made some pants and I bought a pair of jeans. I lived at Towers. Towers was always a busy and active place to live. 

It had the Craft Center, a TV room, a small study library and of course the dining room. It was fairly new and seemed like a hotel to most of us. We weren’t used to air conditioning so we were always freezing. We rode buses to class. Each room had a phone on the wall for roommates to share. We had to pay for long distance. 

There were [Vietnam War] protests on campus. I went down to the protest but the streets were blocked off and most classes were canceled because you really couldn’t get up to the campus. I remember being scared and going back to Towers. 

Women also had “hours.” That meant we had to be in at 11 p.m. during the weekdays and 1:00 a.m. on the weekends. You had 15 grace minutes a semester. If you weren’t in your room, they called your parents and you were put on probation. The rule changed the next year. The opposite sex wasn’t allowed in your room until my sophomore year. 

We could legally drink beer at 18. 

My hopes were to make new friends, do well in class and not disappoint my parents. 

There were also some great concerts while I attended WVU. I saw the Carpenters and Tina Turner.”


Top grossing film: “Billy Jack”

Movie poster of Billy Jack showing man in cowboy hat around other objects such as a snake, woman playing guitar and man in Indian headdress.

“Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”

Movie poster of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

“A Clockwork Orange”

  Movie poster of Clockwork Orange

The Hits: August 1971

1. “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” - Bee Gees

2. “Mr. Big Stuff” - Jean Knight

3. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” - John Denver (Always #1 on WVU's campus!)

4.“Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” - Marvin Gaye

5.“You've Got a Friend” - James Taylor

6. “Sweet Hitch-Hiker” - Creedence Clearwater Revival

7. “Beginnings - Colour My World” - Chicago

8. “10 Signs” - Five Man Electrical Band 9. “Draggin' the Line” - Tommy James

10. “Liar” - Three Dog Night


Black and White photo of former basketball coach Sonny Moran who is wearing a suit and tie.

Coach Garland E. “Sonny” Moran had a difficult and tragic year in 1971-72. Player Larry ‘Decan’ Harris died in a car crash that also paralyzed another starter, Sam Oglesby, over Christmas break. One other starter, Levi Phillips, was found to be academically ineligible. There were still more difficulties. Bob Hornstein moved into the starting lineup and got a collapsed lung. And Gary Reichenbecher broke his leg. 


Black and white image of former football coach Bobby Bowden who is wearing a black suit and tie with the state of WV on it.

Coach Bobby Bowden had just become head coach in 1970, a position he would hold until 1976. The Marshall University football team were killed in Bowden’s first year at WVU. He asked permission for his team to wear Marshall jerseys and play that team’s final game, but that request was denied. But the team did wear green crosses and “MU” on their helmets while Bowden allowed the new Marshall coaching staff to watch WVU game film and playbooks. 

Tell us about your freshman year in the comments below. 


  • Rioters overrun U.S. Capitol while Congress accepts Biden presidential win 
  • Perseverance Rover lands on Mars  
  • COVID-19 vaccine available to those 12 and up (after this issue went to print, at least one vaccine became available to those 5 and up)
  • Cannabis is legal in most states to varying degrees 
  • The Dixie Fire becomes the largest fire in California history 
  • U.S. Armed Forces depart Afghanistan after 20 years 


Unemployment: 5.2%

Median family income: $79,900

Minimum wage: $7.25

Expected job growth: Wind turbine service technician, nurse practitioners, solar photovoltaic installers 

Today’s prices are 6.74 times higher than average prices since 1971, a dollar today only buys 14.84% of what it could buy back then. (Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)


Three female honors students walk near engineering sciences building and walk past a COVID guidelines sign.
Freshmen meet ahead of the first day of class to attend the Honors Retreat in August 2021. (Photo by Parker Sheppard)

Casual is the name of the fashion game on campus in 2021. You’ll see branded T-shirts, shorts in the summer, and sweats and coats in the winter. Suits are still a must for job fairs and interviews.

Student Experience

Isaac McCarthy headshot. He's wearing a white shirt and red tie.

Isaac McCarthy, Inwood W.Va., 2021 Foundation Scholar

“The Music and Health degree program allowed me to continue my passion – music – while allowing me to prepare for my hopeful career in the healthcare industry. No other college — even out of state opportunities, had a program like that for me, so WVU was the only place I could think of going. 

I have a laptop that I use for classes, a pair of headphones for music and zoom classes, and my pencil case to keep me organized. 

The items that are truly essential, however, are my guitar, my trumpet and my bass guitar. Together, these allow me to play music in ensembles, unwind after class, and enable me to record and explore sonic territory I have never ventured into. It’s through this pastime I find my friends, my community, and my sanity. 

I want to make friends, get exposure in my major’s fields, and to build strong fundamentals both academically and musically. After these four years I wish to have opened as many doors for myself for graduate school and for any future endeavors. 

In 50 years, I imagine college will be much more streamlined in access to information and technological integration. Majors likely will shift to better prepare the upcoming generations to fit into a changing job market. However, I believe the community will still be the same. We’ll still sing Country Roads, we’ll still cheer on our band, our basketball team, and we’ll still cry when we cross the stage to graduate.” 


Top Grossing Film: (As of November 2021) “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”

Movie poster for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

“Black Widow”

Movie poster for Black Widow.

“F9: The Fast Saga”

Movie poster for F9: The Fast Saga.

The Hits: August 2021

1. “Stay”  - Laroi and Justin Bieber

2. “Good 4 U” - Olivia Rodrigo

3. “Levitating” - Dua Lipa

4. “Butter” - BTS

5. “Bad Habits” - Ed Sheeran

6. “Kiss Me More” - Doja Cat

7. “Industry Baby” - Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow

8. “Montero” - Lil Nas X

9. “Deja Vu” - Olivia Rodrigo

10. “Save Your Tears” - The Weeknd


Basketball coach Bob Huggins talks to a reporter.

Coach Bob Huggins is in his 14th year as head coach at WVU and is contracted until 2027. This spring, he became the sixth Division I coach to win 900 career games. 


Football Coach Neal Brown stands in suit and tie at a podium for a press conference.

Coach Neal Brown is in his third year as head coach of the Mountaineers and his second in the midst of a global pandemic. He started the 5th Quarter program, which works on developing the whole player on and off the field. 

Tell us about your freshman year in the comments below.