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The Southwestern

The Student News Site of Southwestern Oklahoma State University

The Southwestern

SWOSU Dorm Halls: How they got their names and how they have changed

Walking around the SWOSU campus with my parents, I kept hearing stories from my Dad about the Rogers and Jefferson halls. After hearing it enough times, I decided to look into it. What are Rogers and Jefferson Halls? 

 

This research led me to ask, has every hall changed its name at one point? One question leading to another led me to take a deep dive into every hall, the history behind its name, and whether the name has changed over time. 

 

A simple name for the dormitories in which some students live can hold so much history sometimes, but other times, there isn’t a ton behind the name. 

 

*For this project, I used sources found in the SWOSU Digital Commons, and help from Digitization Technician Ben Dressler within the Archives and Special Collections Dept. at the Al Harris Library. A lot of historical copies of The Southwestern were used, and I have attached the editions with previous stories for further reading*

 

Stewart Hall

Stewart and Neff Hall were the first dormitories to be built on the SWOSU campus, they were approved by the state board of education in 1935. Since being built, Stewart Hall has been a female-only dormitory, housing roughly 300. 

 

Stewart Hall’s name originates from the late Dr. Dora Ann Stewart. Work done by Dr. Michael A. Kerley in the early 1990s details the career of Dr. Stewart. She was named a professor in 1910 and then became the head of the Department of History and Political Science in 1913. Stewart taught all the way until 1948 before retiring in Weatherford and passing away in 1971. Stewart had a lasting impact on the university, as she was the chairman of the scholarship committee, and helped students attend the university. In a fall 1991 Edition of “Echoes from the Hill,” Dr. Kerley says Stewart was given the name in honor of her service to the university.

 

“Stewart Hall was named for her because of her unselfish service, her sacrificial love for Southwestern and the beauty of her life which was given freely for the welfare of Southwestern and the state of Oklahoma,” Kerley said.

The front of Stewart Hall. Photographed in 1960.

 

Neff Hall

Neff Hall was built along with Stewart in the late 1930s, and similar to how Stewart Hall has been an all-female dormitory, Neff Hall has been an all-male dormitory since its opening.

 

Neff Hall was also named after a Southwestern professor, being named after Professor Audubon Neff. Neff came to SWOSU in 1915 as a professor and head of the English department, but he transferred to the history department in 1916 before ending up as the head of the Department of Biological Sciences in 1918. Neff passed away in 1940. Dr. Kerley found that Neff was said to be the “Will Rogers of Southwestern,” and lived a positive lifestyle.

 

“Neff was described as a man of unimpeachable integrity, genial, never angry and with a good word for everyone,” Kerley found.

 

Neff Hall in 1940 (SWOSU Facebook)

 

Students sitting outside of Neff Hall, photographed in 1975 (SWOSU Facebook)

Parker Hall/Black Kettle Hall

Parker Hall was built in 1964 and was originally an all-male dormitory, similar to Neff Hall. Parker Hall is named after Quanah Parker

 

Quannah Parker was the principal chief of all Comanche and an important peacemaker for all Comanche bands. Parker helped to conserve Comanche culture while also being an interpreter of white civilization to his people. Parker was an important Comanche icon and a friend of Teddy Roosevelt, he even hunted with President Roosevelt.

 

In March 2011, the North side of Parker Hall was named the home of the SWOSU School of Nursing, a title the building has held since. According to a press release, projections from that day stated the Nursing program would be expected to expand by 50% with that increase in space. Just over three years after that announcement, the South side of Parker Hall was renamed to Black Kettle Hall. The dormitory has since been remodeled and the suite-style dorm rooms are considered among SWOSU’s best. 

 

Black Kettle is named after Cheyenne Peace Chief Black Kettle. Black Kettle was an important figure of the Cheyenne people, as he continued to fight for peace even in the face of brutal attacks from the government. 

 

“It is significant and appropriate that a building on the campus of Southwestern Oklahoma State University be named for the most peaceable of all Cheyenne peace 2 chiefs—Black Kettle,” Founding president of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribal College Henrietta Mann said.

 

The west side of Parker hall. Photographed in 1965. (SWOSU Digital Commons)

 

Oklahoma Hall

A bit of a roadblock was run into during the search for information for Oklahoma Hall. After extensive research, I was unable to really find why Oklahoma Hall was named Oklahoma Hall. But some critical thinking can be done to figure this one out. (It is named after the State of Oklahoma)

 

What is known about Oklahoma Hall is that it was built in 1965, and opened in the Fall of 1966. Oklahoma Hall was originally an all-female dorm but is now a coed dormitory.

Oklahoma Hall during construction (Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection with the Oklahoma Historical Society)

 

Rogers and Jefferson/Mann Halls:

Rogers and Jefferson Halls were built in 1969. When beginning research for Rogers and Jefferson Halls, I expected the dorms to be named after former professors, similar to Neff and Stewart Halls. To my astonishment, however, the buildings were named after former President Thomas Jefferson and actor/comedian/philanthropist Will Rogers. The north side was Jefferson Hall which was originally an all-male dorm, while the south side was Rogers Hall which was originally an all-female dorm.

 

In 2018, remodels on Rogers Hall were complete, and both sides were renamed to Mann Hall. The north side was changed to Mann North and the south side was changed to Mann South. Both sides are now coed.

 

Mann Hall is named after Dr. Henrietta Mann, the former president of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College. Dr. Mann has been a lifelong proponent of Native American Education. 

 

Dr. Mann has been an important Native American leader and activist, and she received the National Humanities Medal on March 21, 2023, from President Joe Biden.

Oklahoma Hall, Rogers and Jefferson Halls. Photographed in 1973 (SWOSU Digital Commons)

 

 

Sources used for research

 

Stewart and Neff Hall: 

 

Parker/Black Kettle Hall:

 

Rogers and Jefferson/Mann Halls:

 

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About the Contributor
Coy Pope, Sports Writer
Coy Pope is a freshman from Yukon, Oklahoma and is majoring in Parks and Wildlife Law Enforcement with a minor in Wild land fire. He enjoys writing and covering sports, but also enjoys covering other activities, events and basically anything SWOSU-related. Coy wrote for the YHS Insight during all four years in high school.

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