UD dedicates new Jessie S. Hathcock building

Jessie S. Hathcock Hall on UD’s campus. Photo courtesy of Zoë Hill, News Editor.

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Zoë Hill | News Editor

A dedication and blessing Friday, Oct. 22 christened Jessie S. Hathcock Hall, the newly renovated computer science building on campus, which dawns the name of a famous Flyer. 

The building, which was once home to the music and theater departments, underwent a $14 million renovation at the end of 2019. The project finished during the COVID-19 pandemic, and computer science students began taking classes in the new space in the spring 2021 semester. 

The 58,000 square-foot facility includes new study spaces, classrooms and state-of-the-art labs to accommodate one of the fastest-growing programs at UD, according to President Eric Spina. 

The dedication and blessing ceremony was held in the atrium of Hathcock Hall. Brick ways adorned with large windows line the space which once was a wind tunnel between Kettering Labs and the Music/Theater building. It now acts as a connector for the two. 

College of Arts and Sciences dean Jason Pierce led the ceremony, with Rev. Benjamin Speare-Hardy II giving the opening prayer. Spina gave an address on the importance of Hathcock Hall. 

“Naming this building for Jessie Hathcock will make her life and story visible to generations of UD students, inspiring them to continue her legacy of educational excellence, humanitarianism, and community activism,” Spina said. “It is significant to the University to be able to honor her as a trailblazer and a woman dedicated to the transformative power of education.” 

“And oh, how Jessie Hathcock changed Dayton and the world,” he added.

The university announced in January that the new building would carry Hathcock’s name. Spina called the decision a “fitting tribute” to a Flyer with a long legacy in Dayton and at UD. 

Hathcock, who graduated from the university in 1930, was the first African American woman to earn a degree from UD. She took her classes at night so as to not offend the other students. She went on to have a three-decade-long career in education in Dayton Public Schools and was the first African American woman awarded an honorary doctorate from UD in 1978. 

Denise James, professor of philosophy and associate dean for assessment and program review, spoke on why Hathcock’s name on the door is groundbreaking.

Computer information systems junior Amanda Bolden also gave a speech on the opportunities inspired by Hathcock’s legacy, and how students in her major have already taken up well to the renovated space. She said she often sees classmates making use of the study rooms at all hours of the day, including when she is heading home for the night after her evening class. 

Hathcock’s grandson, Lloyd Hathcock Jr., and his wife Barabara accepted a framed photo of Hathcock Hall, presented by Spina as a symbol of the building’s opportunities. 

“When she was doing all these things, I was there. I was there and I was proud,” Lloyd said. 

The event concluded with a blessing led by Rev. James Fitz, performances from the World Music Choir and a tour of the facility. 

UD was one of the first in the nation to establish a computer science undergraduate degree program back in 1961. The department now teaches over 200 undergraduates, and attracts more students every year, according to the university. 

Pierce called the program fitting for the Hatchcock name due to the program’s diversity and her love for traveling the world. 

To quote Jessie S. Hathcock: “May the University of Dayton continue to grow in influence for the betterment of our city and may its doors of learning be forever open to all races, creeds and nationalities, for the Glory of God, who taught us the meaning of brotherhood and the oneness of mankind.”

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