The history of KSU buildings

Kate Murphy

Students walking past or attending class in buildings on campus may not know they were not named because of donated money, but rather after notable alumni.

“Naming buildings on campus is done to honor somebody well known, notable, and hold longevity at the university,” said University Archivist Steve Paschen. “It is usually former presidents, administration, or prominent professors.”

It is a common misconception that these buildings are named after individuals who donate large sums of money toward the university. Paschen said that the members of the Board of Trustees vote on the building name dedication.

John E. McGilvery, for example, was the first president of the university in 1914. McGilvery Hall was built in 1939 after the end of The Depression era. It was one of the most coveted and impressive science buildings of its era with high tech equipment and many labs.

Other buildings named after former Kent State presidents includes White Hall, Bowman Hall, Leebrick Hall, Schwartz building, and Engleman Hall.

The Deweese Health Center, built in 1969, was named after Arville Otis Deweese, who was a part of Kent State staff for 41 years. He was a teacher, physician, administrator, and counselor. He also established Ohio’s first major physical education program for teachers.

Franklin Hall, the building for Journalism and Mass Communications was originally named the William A. Cluff Teaching Training Building. He was a trustee at the university. In 1956, it was renamed Franklin for the city’s original name, Franklin Mills.

Koonce Hall, a residence hall in Tri Towers was named after Judith Koonce. Koonce died at age 23 when trying to save an 11-year-old girl from drowning.

Dunbar Hall, a residence hall, was named after Margaret Dunbar. She was the university’s first librarian.

Beall Hall was named after Florence G Beall. She was a noted professor of English at the University.

Fletcher Hall is named after Mona Fletcher who was a professor of Political Science.

Henderson Hall was named for Linda Henderson. She was the first Dean of Nursing. She was awarded the President’s Medal in 1984.

Merill Hall, the first building on campus, was named for Frank Merill, who was the first home trustee.

Oscar Ritchie Hall, the center for Pan-African studies was originally the Student Center called The Hub. It was then named after Ritchie, professor of sociology and the first African American faculty member at a state university in Ohio.

Paschen said he has enjoyed seeing the small changes in Kent like the new Starbucks and different uses for the Robin Hood, to large changes like the entrance of campus changing from the arch by Rockwell Hall to Campus Center Drive by the Recreation and Wellness Center.

“Oscar Ritchie was the student center, and Rockwell used to be the library,” said Paschen. “Even what is considered the entrance of campus isn’t the same. It’s interesting to look at Kent State then and now and see the changes.”

Contact Kate Murphy at [email protected].