Although established as a military school, Hopson O. Murfee, MMI’s second president, changed the emphasis following the turn of the twentieth century. The literature of the period expresses the idea that Marion was destined to become the “Eton of the South”. H.O. Murfee was one of the foremost advocates of a student run government which focused on honor and ethics within the student body. Because of this, MMI was one of the first schools in the south to establish a student government association as well as an honor system, both of which are still very much a part of the Corps today. Under Murfee’s leadership the school achieved national recognition. William Howard Taft, President of the United States, served as President of the Board of Trustees. Woodrow Wilson was the featured speaker at the convocation held in the MMI Chapel in 1905. Following his appearance, the school colors were changed to orange and black, and the tiger was adopted as the mascot in tribute to Dr. Wilson, who was President of Princeton University at the time.
The plan to pattern MMI after the great English public schools, however, was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. The ROTC program was introduced in 1916, establishing the Early Commissioning Program and paving the way for the Service Academy Prep Program. The military nature of the school was again stressed. MMI slowly evolved into a military high school and two-year junior college, and remains a two-year junior college today.
Up until World War II, the campus consisted of primarily two buildings; the Chapel and Old South (Lovelace) Barracks. During the period that followed WWII, the President, Colonel J.T. Murfee, II, introduced a major building program. The Alumni Memorial Gymnasium was constructed along with the Chemistry Building, now John G. Monteabaro Hall, and two modern barracks, north (Wilkerson) and west (Murfee). Such building was not seen again until the 1960’s, when Colonel Paul B. Robinson embarked on a construction program that included the academic wings, Baer Memorial Library, Trustees Hall, the Excess House, and a golf course. The MMI campus currently encompasses over 160 acres and includes the Williams R. Ireland Athletic Complex, James W. Rane Barracks, the Lynn M. and Sherwood C. Middlebrooks, Jr. Fine Arts Building, the Scott G. Davis Baseball Field, the Soldier’s Field for Women’s Softball, the David J. Robinson Memorial Stadium, and the Paul B. Anderson Tennis Complex.