On July 15, 1943 the Illinois legislature passed Senate Bill #6, allowing the creation of a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, it was one of the three original colleges to comprise Southern when it was granted university status, that same year. Originally it was known as the College of Arts and Sciences and was designed to provide students the opportunity for a liberal education with a specialization in a specific area. The College was made up of: four departments organized in 1913; Chemistry; Foreign Languages; Mathematics; and Physics; the Department of Physiology which was established in 1925; both the Departments of Botany and Zoology, established in 1929; the Department of Government organized in 1930; and the departments of English, History, Geography and Geology. Originally, the College also contained Art; Economics; Household Arts; and Music; these four departments were later removed to become components of additional schools or colleges. The College became an actual functioning entity in 1945 when Talbot W. Abbott was appointed the first Dean.
The College Abbott had presided over comprised of only thirteen departments, but during the rapid growth of President Morris's reign, had grown to nineteen departments and two programs. By 1972 the combined operating budgets of the Humanities and Social/ Behavioral Sciences had become over 4 million dollars. The operating budget for Physical and Biological Sciences was 3.1 million. Because of the difficulty in running such a huge and Complex College the Chairmen of the six science departments requested that a separate College of Science be established. The Executive Vice President and Provost made a thorough review and on November 17, 1972 it was decided at the BOT meeting that on January 1, 1973 the College of Science would be established. It was comprised of the departments of: Chemistry and Biochemistry; Botany; Geology; Physiology; Physics and Astronomy; and Zoology. The first Dean of the College of Science was Elbert Hadley. And once the College of Science became operative, the name of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was shortened to College of Liberal Arts.