New names proposed for SEMO residence hall

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Southeast Missouri State University may soon get a new name for "New Hall," a student residence hall that was never officially named.

A student government committee has recommended three possible choices for the residence hall, and school president Dr. Ken Dobbins said Wednesday he will present those suggestions to the board of regents when it meets Friday.

The committee suggested the residence hall on Henderson Avenue be named for the school's fifth president, Willard Duncan Vandiver; or for former regent Leon Albert, who helped set up an association that organized and financed the construction of the first residence halls on campus; or "Hawthorn" in recognition of the white hawthorn, the official state flower of Missouri.

Dobbins said he only recently received the three possible names from student leaders and will leave it up to the board to decide. But the regents may put off making a decision until they've had more time to review the suggestions, he said.

Vandiver served as the school's president from 1893 to 1897 when the college was known as the Third District Normal School. As president, Vandiver faced declining enrollment due to a national depression and an attempt to abolish the Normal School system. The attempt failed, and Vandiver focused on increasing enrollment.

He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1896 and resigned as university president in March 1897. He's credited with coining the phrase "Show Me State."

The student committee in a report to school officials cited Vandiver's service to the university, commitment to Missouri and his role in coining the state slogan as reasons for why it would be appropriate to name the new residence hall in his honor.

Albert served on the board of regents from 1889 to 1912. He helped form the Normal Dormitory Association in 1904. Two residence halls were built, one of which was named Albert Hall in his honor. Albert Hall was used until 1960 when it was demolished to make room for Dearmont Hall, the committee reported.

"What better way to honor one of the men directly responsible for starting on-campus housing than to name our newest residence hall after him," the committee wrote.

As for "Hawthorn," the committee wrote that it would be appropriate for a state school to name a building after a "beautiful" state symbol.

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