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IU residence halls named after notable men, women – and trees



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Memorial Hall reopened as a dorm for the 2017-18 school year. The hall was originally an all-women's dorm on campus. Rose Bythrow Buy Photos

An IU residence hall sees thousands upon thousands of students walk through its halls in its lifetime. If their walls could talk, one can only imagine the stories they could tell.

This is the history behind the name of each IU residence hall.

Collins Living-Learning Center, composed of four separate buildings, is the oldest residence hall still in use on campus, according to the IU Libraries online chronology. Once named Washington Hall, it was later renamed to honor Ralph L. Collins.

The old-fashioned, gothic building houses some of IU’s most liberal and progressive students. According to an article at collinsites.org, Ralph L. Collins earned a Ph.D. from Yale in English with a specialty in drama. He was an IU professor and administrator for more than 25 years. 

Collins believed college was a time for students to find themselves and their passions.

“Furthermore, I suggest that the school seek even closer relationships with the basic disciplines in the College of Arts and Sciences, pointing out to its students that the undergraduate years are the time for enrichment and not the time for a high degree of concentration,” Collins said in a speech to the business fraternity Beta Gamma Sigma. 

Collins died of a heart attack in 1963 at the age of 55. 

Willkie Quad is named after Wendell Willkie, an IU alumnus and the Republican nominee in the 1940 presidential election. He lost to a Democratic incumbent by the name of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

According to an article from the New York Times, "Before Trump or Fiorina, there was Wendell Willkie," Willkie was a businessman at heart. He was generally disliked by the members of the Republican party and was considered to be a loudmouth and a fool. 

Joseph A. Wright was the governor of Indiana from 1849 to 1857, according to Volume 78, Issue 3 of IU's Magazine of History. He is best remembered for his tenure as governor.

Several unofficial websites theorize he was the man who created the word Hoosier, although it is largely considered an urban legend.

McNutt Quad is also named for a former Indiana governor, Paul V. McNutt. Herman T. Briscoe and Carl H. Eigenmann were both professors at Indiana University.

Daniel Read, the man behind the name of Read Center, was a professor who “saved” IU by fighting to make sure IU could keep land the state government was threatening to take back, according to another IU Libraries official blog post named "Daniel Read: The Professor Who Saved the Universities."

Foster Quad is named after John W. Foster, an IU graduate in his youth and a soldier in the Civil War, according to an IU Libraries blog post.

Not every residence hall is named after a man.

Beth Feickert said Nellie Showers Teter donated the land where Teter Quad is located and was IU’s first female trustee. 

Feickert also mentioned the multiple buildings that make up Wells Quad, named for Agnes E. Wells. Wells earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from IU, and she was IU’s Dean of Women from 1918-1937.

Part of Wells Quad is Goodbody Hall, named for another Dean of Women and pioneer of their rights, Louise A. Goodbody. 

Memorial Hall, another part of the Wells Quadrangle, was the first women’s residence on campus in 1924, according to an official IU "Voices from the IU Bicentennial" blog post.

According to IU's online archives, the office of Dean of Women lasted until June of 1946, when IU created the non-gender-specific Dean of Students. 

While Ida Husted Harper does not have a residence hall named after her, Harper Hall in the Foster Quad honors her legacy and commitment to women’s rights. Feickert wrote that Harper was a newspaper writer, a Susan B. Anthony biographer, a delegate to the International Council of Women and a woman’s suffrage advocate.  

Recently, there has been a shift in the naming policy for buildings at IU. The University has started naming residence halls and buildings after trees. Students who were on campus a few years ago will remember when Spruce Hall was named Rose Hall. 

Assistant to the Executive Vice President and Administrator Coordinator Danyele Green explained the internal reasoning behind the renaming.

“The renaming was in response to keeping the tree-theme which has been in place for new residence halls," Green said. "IU went through considerable effort to save and preserve the spruce trees and even built the building around them.”

Whether the residence halls are honoring men, women or trees, there is always a story behind the name. 

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