UD names computer science building in honor of first African American woman graduate

Kaitlin Lewis

News Editor

The University of Dayton announced today that the computer science building will be named after Jessie S. Hathcock, the first African American woman to graduate from UD in 1930. 

The building, which was formally the Music/Theatre building by Kettering Labs, was recently renovated for what President Spina called the “fastest-growing academic program” at UD. 

“Naming the building for this trailblazing woman will make her life and her story visible to generations of UD students, inspiring them to continue her legacy of educational excellence, humanitarianism and community activism,” Spina said. 

Hathcock graduated with a degree in education and went to teach in the Dayton public schools systems after UD. She also taught English and served as the Dean of Girls at Dunbar High School. While at UD, Hathcock was a member of the Beta Eta Omega Dayton chapter, and the first president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in 1934.

Hathcock served the city of Dayton as well by working with the City Beautiful Council, the Wegerzyn Garden Board and the American Association of University Women. Hathcock also touched lives outside of the city, and was active in the Dayton Council on World Affairs, and founded the Dayton and Miami Valley Committee for UNICEF. 

Hathcock was also the first African American woman to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Dayton in 1978. 

“May the University of Dayton continues 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,” Hathcock said in response to this honor. 

The computer science building will be equipped with new classrooms, laboratories and office spaces for experiential learning opportunities. There will also be an enclosed walkway to connect Kettering Labs and Hathcock Hall.

Hathcock’s family, including her granddaughter Beverly Hathcock Robinson, said they are honored to have the building named after her.

“We are simply delighted and thrilled. As an educator for many years, our grandmother would be particularly pleased that the building named in her honor is a place of learning,” the family said.

Watch the university’s video about the new building here.

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