Before the school year, we took a behind the scenes tour of the new South Dining Commons, the 22,000 square foot dining hall that feeds the hungry people of KU, primarily residents from Oliver and Downs residential halls.
While the facility was beautiful and ready for students, it was the one piece of unfinished business that caught our eye:
Encompassing nearly 200 square feet, the traditional “K” flag that flies on top of Fraser Hall on game days now covers the wall students see when they first walk in.
“Having our dining center so close to Allen Fieldhouse, we wanted our interiors to have a sports and school spirit feel.” said Mark Petrino, director of KU Dining Services. “When we were brainstorming what to put on this massive wall, we decided we wanted something that would immediately catch the eye of every guest as they entered… What would show school spirit more than this iconic piece of KU history?”
South Dining Commons is located at 18th and Naismith and is part of the Central District Plan approved by the Kansas Board of Regents in November 2015.
On Sunday, August 14, we tagged along with the McKee family for move-in day. Julie McKee, c’87, and her husband Mark, b’83, helped their second daughter, Chandler, move into Corbin Hall, and little sister Brooke was along for the adventure. KU announced earlier this year that Corbin Hall will be restored and renovated in 2017.
Julie McKee, c’87, walked into Corbin Hall and was immediately taken back in time. A few years had passed, of course, and her three daughters were a reminder of the passage of time. Corbin had changed some too, of course. The decorations and some of the furniture were different, but much of the historic building was exactly as she remembered, including the atmosphere- a familiar mix of excitement and uncertainty that comes with a life-changing moment, like going off to college.
Welcome to move-in day.
For more than 90 years, Corbin Hall has served as the largest female-only residence hall for undergraduates at the University of Kansas, which means multiple generations of Jayhawks, like the McKees, have lived there. Corbin was the first home-away-from-home for countless KU alumni, and a new crop of eager freshmen moved in August 14. However, this year’s group of girls will have a unique experience compared to those who will follow; they will live in the same Corbin Hall inhabited by their mothers and grandmothers, and they’ll be the last class to do so.
Earlier this year, KU announced plans to close Corbin in 2017 so renovations–and restorations–can be made to the aging facility. Upgrades to plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems will be made at a cost of around $13.5 million, improving all student rooms, restrooms, public spaces and the entryway. Corbin is scheduled to reopen in 2018. That made this year’s move-in day a special occasion, especially for those who once lived in Corbin. The next group to move in, once restoration and improvements are complete, will experience a much more modern facility that retains all the architectural charm this historic KU building has to offer.
Originally built in 1923, Corbin was extended in 1951 with the addition of the north building. It has been updated through the years, but the structure and layout have remained largely unchanged, which former residents will recall. You might tell a fellow Jayhawk you lived in Corbin. A woman would know to ask “north or south?”
Each wing was known for its quirks and its own culture, history and personality. A bond was created among the girls on each floor that survived bid day, bad dates and changed majors.
Julie McKee, her husband Mark, b’83, helped their daughter unload, unpack and decorate her room with fresh new bedding before speaking with us about their family’s move-in day experience, which was admittedly bittersweet. Chandler McKee, like most KU freshmen, radiated optimism, knowing it was finally her turn to be a Jayhawk.
And her new address would be 420 West 11th Street, better known as Corbin Hall.
McCollum Hall, the largest residence hall at the University of Kansas, was demolished at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 25.
Built in 1965, 10-story McCollum Hall was originally designed with a capacity of 910 residents. With two new residence halls now facing Lewis and Hashinger halls, the McCollum site will be paved for much-needed parking.
Watch our video below to see interviews detailing the history of McCollum Hall and the future of Daisy Hill with Becky Schulte, University archivist; Jim Modig, University architect; and Curtis Marsh, director of KU Info.
We invited alumni to share their stories of McCollum Hall with us, some of which are included below. If you have a special memory of the residence hall, email us at email@example.com. The residence hall will be demolished at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 25. Watch a livestream of the implosion, along with additional coverage, at www.kualumni.org/mccollum.
I lived in McCollum last year as a senior after years of living in Oliver. We always complained about how horrible it was to live in “McNasty”, but at the same time we enjoyed the camaraderie that came from that shared experience. RAs and floormates became family. I’ll never forget the time the power went out and I got stuck inside the elevator with three other people for thirty minutes. We might have panicked some, but it turned out to be a tiny adventure and we spent a good chunk of our “stuck” time cracking jokes. —Evangelina
You know you’re getting old when a building scheduled for demolition was built three years after you graduated from KU. —Stan, class of 1962
I am very sad to hear of the implosion of McCollum hall, but understand the need. I was only in McCollum for one year (1986-87), but it was the best experience of my young adult life. I remain in contact with my last roommate, Leslie, as well as another hallmate, Chris. I have such fond memories of early morning breakfasts and those Thursday nights in the commons area watching Cosby and the whole lineup of great shows. We were on the 9th floor (west) and I remember on move-in and move-out days having to take the stairs all the way up and down. I remember typing up my last final paper while waiting for my laundry in the basement (I received an “A” – go figure; must have been the whirring of the dryers and fragrance of laundry soap).
One of my fondest memories was having chicken for dinner one evening and I was trying to dissect the chicken leg—I was taking human anatomy at the time and had a test coming up. I think I grossed everyone out. The best memory I have is the evening I met the man who would become my husband, Mark. Leslie was studying for a particularly hard pharmacy test and her boyfriend, Tom, stopped by with donuts from Joe’s Bakery and he brought Mark with him as a tag-along. I was immediately smitten. Mark and I have been married for over 25 years and we have 5 beautiful children. So, thanks McCollum, for all of the excellent memories from my last year on the KU-Lawrence campus! —Janice
I met my wife in McCollum in 1968. I still remember the first time I saw her. McCollum brought us together. Time moves on! Thanks McCollum for the memories! —Mark
One fun filled summer, I served as social co-chair for McCollum residents.I must first apologize for not crediting all of the residents who contributed to the activities that summer…must have been ’66. A hootenanny ranks as the most prominent event of the season. The beginning of Paul Gray’s Gaslight Gang entertained employing members of the KU band and included Skip DeVol on the banjo.
Seems one drunken evening I even recall a resident riding a skateboard along the ledge on the sixth floor…he was hammered.
Living long enough to witness the birth and demise of a concrete and steel structure like McCollum hall makes one wonder if anything temporal really lasts. Some things seem to never change and others don’t seem to when they desperately need to.
Thanks for the memories and lessons faculty and friends. —Marty
I lived in McCollum in 1988. I have many fond memories of that dorm. I lived on the 6th floor which that year had two men’s wings and one women’s. One night, the guy I was dating over imbibed and (probably on a dare) walked out onto the ledge of the 6th floor. He was safely brought back in. Rumors ran wild that we had broken up and he was going to jump. They were not true but everyone called him “Spiderman” after that. —LS, class of ‘92
I was an RA there from 2003-2004 and one of the things I enjoyed the most was the peace and serenity of looking over Iowa street during the winters from my 6th floor room.
I also participated in JOE (Jayhawk Observation Eating study) and one of the requirements was that I had to occasionally get up super early in the mornings to have my breathing monitored. Thankfully another co-RA (Hannah) and I were both in the study so we both suffered the agony of early mornings.
One particularly cold morning, Hannah and I were both in the elevator when I noticed something felt very strange in my sock/shoe. As I took off my sock/shoe a massive roach flew out, landed on the floor, and scurried away. I was immediately horrified and started yelling because there is no way that I could be gross enough to house roaches in my room. The elevator doors opened and the desk staff was semi-startled/awakened by my yelling as I hurriedly hopped out of the elevator (I was struggling to put my sock and shoe back on) while Hannah was doubled over laughing.
—Natalie, class of ’04
One day I had a nap on my bed in the dorm. The door opened and my friend Scott said, “Got something for you….”
When I opened my eyes a snake looked at me in a funny way..It was perfectly harmless, but I didn’t know it. I freaked out and ran out of the room where Scott was taking a photo… He had done that with several snakes to various people.
When he entered my room to put the snake back into the box, it had disappeared along the pipes of the heating system into other rooms. That also happened in some more cases. There were screams coming out of various rooms for the rest of the evening. When people looked up they saw snakes crawling along the pipes of the heating system.
That was the day when McCollum came closest to a Stephen King movie. —Harald, class of ’74
I lead community walks on Saturday mornings in my community of Pleasanton, California. A couple years ago, a new Walk Star wanted us to see her quaint town nearby, and she volunteered to lead us on the adventure walk. I joined the walk that morning not having been involved in the planning. As she led the group, I introduced myself. Within 100 yards, we discovered that not only had we been at KU at the same time—we had lived in McCollum Hall at the same time.
I moved in during the opening year, and she transferred in her sophomore year, 1966. She also knew my longtime friend, Bill. A small world that started at McCollum Hall ended with us becoming walking friends in California, 46 years later. —Ron, e’69
This article originally appeared in Kansas Alumni magazine, Vol. 64, No. 4, Dec. 1965-Jan. 1966. The magazine was published nine times per year, monthly except for combined issues of December/January, March/April, and July/August. Dick Wintermote, c’51, served as executive secretary-editor. At the time, membership in the Alumni Association was $6 per year, and a Life membership was $100.
If a full moon was shining brightly in a clear sky, the thrifty city fathers of turn-of-the-century Lawrence considered burning the gas street lamps a waste of fuel. But if the night was dark, a couple of KU students set out on their rounds lighting the lamps.
When the lamps were lit, the young men got some sleep; at midnight, they were up again, retracing their steps to turn off the lights.
Then one of the pair would head for the offices of the Lawrence World, where he earned more money for his college expenses by counting out newspapers for the delivery boys and then covering a route himself. Sometimes he could get a little more sleep by curling up on a stack of old newspapers in a storeroom at the printing shop while he waited for the papers to come off the press.
But the pace was tough, and often the young man fell asleep in his classes. He always felt that his having to work so much in order to meet expenses cheated him out of much of his education.
So it was that years later, he—Elmer McCollum, c’03, g’04—started a student loan fund with money awarded to him in honor of his great contributions to the study of nutrition—a fund Dr. McCollum has added to over the years.
“Self-financing,” he says, “has always meant too much physical work and too much loss of sleep to the detriment of education. That is the reason why I wanted, and still want, to provide an opportunity for a few young people in order to spare them the waste of time, strength, and rest by making it possible for them to pay for their education after their earning capacity is more favorable.”
Throughout his life, Dr. McCollum has shown the passion for learning that drove the young student lamplighter. He also has shown a compassion for those who learn—not only as a philanthropist, but also as a teacher, counselor, and friend.
So it was characteristic that when he learned the Kansas Board of Regents had decided to name the University’s newest and largest residence hall in honor of him and his brother, the late Burton McCollum, e’03, Dr. McCollum interpreted the news in terms of his love for learning and those who learn.
“Nothing could honor us more,” he said, “than that a few young men, armed with intelligence and insight, guided by a narrow and positive purpose, and with a meditative element in their minds, might think constructively in the shelter of McCollum Hall.”
And when he came back to Mount Oread for the dedication of McCollum Hall in October, Dr. McCollum saw the building and its inhabitants less as a residence hall filled with 1,100 high-spirited young men than as an academic building filled with students.
“The organization of the men on individual floors of McCollum and their objectives of broadening horizons through sharing ideas, cultivating character, and discussion of important problems and issues significant for the future of mankind arouses my admiration,” he commented.
Of course, neither Dr. McCollum nor anyone else pictures the men of McCollum as always plugging away doggedly at their homework or huddling in earnest discussion of weighty world problems. The hall’s biweekly newspaper, The Tartan (which one of its editors has described as “the Kansan’s biggest little brother), evinces the healthy, if somewhat more frivolous, interests of young males in things other than academic pursuits.
The paper’s “flag,” for instance, is adorned with a sketch of a shapely young lady in form-fitting blouse, skater’s length skirt, and knee sox. A regular feature treats the reader to a series of cheesecake photos of a campus beauty (photos decorous enough they would cause not a trace of consternation in the dean of women’s office). And another feature indulges in lighthearted nonsense in a style reminiscent of Max Shulman’s Barefoot Boy With Cheek.
Nevertheless, the men of McCollum have done a remarkable job of organizing their hall in ways calculated to minimize the potential impersonality of its bigness on one hand, and on the other hand to take advantage of the diversity its bigness offers.
Organization began long before the men moved into McCollum, when the men of Ellsworth Hall learned they would move to the new hall. The president and vice-president of Ellsworth and the president and vice-president of the Association of University Residence Halls (A.U.R.H.) constituted a select committee to lay the groundwork.
This committee discussed alternative plans of hall government and the ways in which the established spirit of Ellsworth could be preserved while a distinct pioneering enthusiasm was built for McCollum. The group drafted an outline for a new system of hall government and plans for the transition from Ellsworth to McCollum.
Working from the committee’s plans, the men of Ellsworth wrote and ratified a new constitution for McCollum and elected a full list of officers. To the new officers fell the job of working with the University administration to plan for the dedication of the new hall and for the activities which would acquaint the hall’s residents with their new home and build the feeling of a well-knit living group.
When McCollum’s doors were opened in September, the officers were ready with an orientation program and a full schedule of social activities and other events designed to make the men feel at home and to encourage them to take part in the hall’s programs.
The planning groups already had done a great deal to determine the atmosphere of the new residence hall. In addition to making plans for the government and for the fall activities, they had begun to work on the “image” of McCollum. The Scottish ancestry of the McCollum brothers, as well as the “highland” site of the hall, gave a natural framework for the image.
With the help of experts on Scottish heraldry, hall officers found the crest and tartan of the McCollum clan and adopted them as official symbols of the “clan” living in McCollum Hall. The hall’s paper was named The Tartan (and its pinup section was called “McCollum’s Lass”). And although the young men of the hall have not yet taken to wearing kilts, there is evidence that they are adopting the fierce loyalty and pride of a Highland clan.
The men take a more personal pride in the distinction given to the name McCollum by the two brothers after whom the hall is named: Elmer McCollum, discoverer of vitamins A and D, pioneer in the discovery of the nutritional importance of the B complex vitamins and the trace elements, the man who has undoubtedly done more than any other to change man’s eating habits; and Burton McCollum, dedicated earth scientist who first developed seismographic methods for oil exploration and invented and patented more than 30 devices for geological exploration.
The McCollum brothers are probably the most outstanding men ever graduated from KU, and undoubtedly the most outstanding pair of brothers. Though a university residence hall cannot hope to achieve a comparable distinction and few if any of the hall’s residents can look forward to such distinguished careers, the hall’s leaders are determined that McCollum will do credit to the name it honors.
“We who have met and talked with Dr. and Mrs. McCollum feel even more deeply the pride and significance of the name we bear,” said hall resident Bill Robinson, vice-president of the student body, after the dedication of McCollum Hall.
Elmer McCollum and the hall leaders at least share one hope for the hall: that the experience of living there will be a strong character-building force for the men of McCollum.
Photos: Top: McCollum Hall under construction. Published in Kansas Alumni magazine, November 1964.
Middle: Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe bends to greet Elmer McCollum at dedication ceremonies for McCollum Hall. Published in Kansas Alumni magazine, Dec. 1965-Jan. 1966.
Bottom: Members of a standing-room-only crowd listen to Dr. McCollum as he speaks from the platform set up in front of McCollum Hall. Published in Kansas Alumni magazine, Dec. 1965-Jan. 1966.
The long-anticipated implosion of McCollum Hall, set for 9 a.m. on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, might best be viewed from the parking lot behind Oliver Hall—but plan to make your way to 19th and Naismith plenty early, because street closures beginning at about 8:30 a.m. will surely snarl traffic. If you’re not in Lawrence for the Big Bang, stay tuned to all KU Alumni Association social media outlets, the news blog at kualumni.org and the January issue of Kansas Alumni magazine for complete coverage. A livestream of the event will be available at www.kualumni.org/mccollum.
In order to create a 600-foot safety zone, Iowa Street will be closed from 15th to 21st streets and westbound 19th Street will be closed from Naismith Drive to Constant Avenue on West Campus. The intersection at 15th Street and Engel Road—the northern access point to Daisy Hill—will also close, barricades will restrict access around West Campus, and the Irving Hill bridge will be closed. Officials anticipate that all road closures will be removed by 10 a.m.
The designated public viewing area is behind Oliver Hall, although there are no scheduled activities for that site—other than a chance to join the group’s gasps, cheers and tears as McCollum Hall tumbles in on itself.
KU officials advise that the implosion will demolish McCollum in a matter of seconds, but the ensuing dust cloud will likely linger in the atmosphere for up to 15 minutes, so those with respiratory ailments are cautioned to take appropriate precautions.
Built in 1965, 10-story McCollum Hall will was originally designed with a capacity of 910 residents. With two new residence halls now facing Lewis and Hashinger halls, the McCollum site will be paved for much-needed parking.
McCollum’s furniture and interior accessories were removed and re-used, metal materials are being recycled, and concrete and masonry will be crushed and used as gravel fill for campus construction projects.
Clear blue skies, bountiful sunshine and nearly record-setting temperatures in the low 70s set the stage for a successful move-in day Aug. 20 as thousands of students and their families and friends descended on Mount Oread.
On Daisy Hill, KU Housing staff were on hand to guide the procession of cars from the Lied Center to the residence halls, where several teams of volunteers helped unload carloads of belongings and deliver them to each student’s assigned suite.
“The process is very, very organized,” says Kim Rupe, of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, whose son, Kaleb, is moving into the brand-new Oswald Hall. “It takes some of the anxiety away. It’s really nice.”
Move-in day kicks off the start of ’Hawk Week, a series of events designed to welcome students to the Hill and prepare them for a successful semester. On Saturday, the Student Alumni Association will host ’Hawkfest, right before Traditions Night.
This ode to McCollum Hall, written by KU student and former McCollum resident Chloe Voth, was originally published on The Odyssey and is reprinted here with permission. The residence hall will be demolished at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 25. Watch a livestream of the implosion, along with additional coverage, at www.kualumni.org/mccollum.
The campus skyline in Lawrence is about to change. The largest residence hall at the University of Kansas is going to be torn down. And while most students will be delighted to see the mold-infested dorm go, there are some of us who might shed a tear or two—specifically, the many lucky ones, including me, who were the last year of McCollum survivors!
I remember move-in day and being disgusted by the idea of sharing a bathroom with 30 other girls, trying to decide where I would put all my clothes with such little closet space and always having that slight fear that I would forget my key and get locked out on a regular basis. That first night on the small twin bed I contemplated my decision of staying in the dorm. There was no way I could survive this for another nine months when one night was already rough enough!
However, the next week that followed was a little less awful. Although I was disappointed that none of the boys on our floor were very attractive and annoyed that our dorm was the furthest from campus (so walking to class meant you had to make it an extra 20 yards without dying of heatstroke). But I decided to make the best of it by decorating and turning those cinder block walls into a room that felt like home as much as possible.
A ton changed in the next few weeks of freshman year. I finally got used to the weak water pressure of the showers and having to drag my dirty clothes through the lobby, into the elevator, all the way to the basement just to do laundry. But the best thing was that I finally talked to some of those weird boys in the other wing … and the dorm didn’t feel so awful after that. It became the location to many of the memories made:
Like having to wake up at 5 a.m. to go camp in line for the basketball games. I got to spend a half-hour banging on everyone’s door trying to get them up in time before having to walk down to the Fieldhouse (which always felt like miles away when it was still dark and freezing out). It took continuous knocking, but everyone eventually strolled into the lobby sporting their best hobo outfit and “I haven’t had coffee yet, so don’t talk to me” facial expression.
Or when we realized each room was a three digit number and we lived on the sixth floor, so naturally we wanted to find the room numbered 666. So we walked through each wing until we found that they did indeed skip over that satanic number.
By far the most unusual thing to happen was when I got up on a Sunday morning after a late Saturday night and heard that a certain sink in a certain boys’ wing was no longer working … probably because it was no longer attached to the wall. It was the conversation for the next few days and still remains as one of the legendary weekends of freshman year.
And let’s not forget that one fateful night, when we were up past the RA’s personal bedtime (9 p.m. on a Saturday night), and we all got written up … every single one of us.
I know that next year we will mistakenly find ourselves stumbling walking back to the end of Daisy Hill after a Friday night at the Hawk, only to be confused as to why our entire dorm building is missing.
At the start of the year I tried to cover up every inch of the white washed walls that surrounded me because I did not think this place could ever feel like home. And now that our first year at college has come to a close, I’m struggling to find the heart to tear everything down. Watching everyone else take their flags, pictures and posters off the walls, it’s beginning to hit me that this is all too real. We are no longer freshman. And this will no longer be my room where I swap crazy weekend stories with my roommate, spend five seconds trying to pick out a dress before hopping on safe bus or cry over my essay that just won’t write itself. I am slowly watching McCollum look exactly as it did that first day I walked in: empty. Only this time is different. I’m not stressing about finding the right lecture hall in the maze of a building, I’m not trying to figure out the best time to go eat a meal or worrying about which sorority to join and who I’ll make friends with. I’m stressing about finals and grades, I’m dying of hunger because cafeteria food is gross, and worst of all, I’m crying because for the next few months I have to leave all of my favorite people that I’ve met over the course of the year.
Growing up in northeast Kansas, KU is a popular choice for college partially because it is so close to home. That meant weekend trips to see my puppies, do free laundry and have delicious home-cooked meals were a monthly thing. Although I found myself telling my family how I needed to head back “home” on Sunday evenings. Lawrence slowly morphed into the place where I felt most at home. It is where I spent endless hours simply hanging out with the collective group of people that make up my college family. 1800 Engel Road.
I just wanted to say one last goodbye to McCollum Hall. Thank you for being my first home away from home. But now I realize how much easier it is to say goodbye to the building than it is the people in it, because they are the ones that really made this crazy dorm feel like home after all.