New hall honors supporters of the university: faculty, staff and donors

The Hall of Benefactors and Distinguished Alumni, part of a $1.1 million expansion to Heritage Hall, honors alumni, donors, staff, faculty and those that have helped make Murray State what it is today.

Dedicated on Friday Oct. 12 after eight months of construction, Bob Jackson, associate vice president for Institutional Advancement said the Hall of Benefactors and Distinguished Alumni pays tribute to those who have come before current students, and is a way to share the University’s heritage.

“This University has a long and great history,” Jackson said. “We’ve had a lot of loyal alumni and donors since the very beginning; the university was founded because of the generosity of many people in Murray and Calloway County who raised $116,000 in 1922 to locate this University here.”

“I think this will be a place where students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends of the University, those that love this university, will be able to see and understand Murray State better and understand the importance of giving back.”

The $1.1 million dollar gift to finish Heritage Hall, including this project, came from Jesse D. Jones as part of the Hold Thy Banner High Campaign, his donation to the fundraising campaign being marked specifically for use to conclude work on the multi-purpose facility.

“Jones understood we needed a centralized place to recognize and see the evidence of giving back,” said Jackson. “He’s a visionary in this regard.”

In addition to the new Hall of Benefactors and Distinguished Alumni, Heritage Hall is home to the Office of Regional Outreach, Office of Development, Regional Business and Innovation Center and the Small Business Development Center.

The Hall of Benefactors and Distinguished Alumni includes a variety of mementos: pictures of the University ranging from those of  the completion of recent campaigns such as the dedication of the clock tower, and some dating back to the earliest days of Murray, including the original master layout plan for Murray State.

Multiple versions of Murray’s shield throughout the years decorate the hall along with a bust of Rainey T. Wells’ shoulders and head, Murray’s founder, identical in design to the statue outside Pogue Library.

Upon arrival, students can see approximately 100 names carved into individual tiles on the floor of the hall’s lobby: names such as Arthur J. Bauernfeind of the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business, the CFSB Center, the Hilda Jones Estate and Jesse D. Jones, all those that have made gifts of $250,000 or more in their life time.

Attached to the lobby is a boardroom to be used for special functions.  A series of plaques hang on the wall opposite the door, denoting the current members on the Board of Trustees, every board member who has served since its foundation in 1946, the current and previous chairs and its executives.

Jackson said he has already received requests to use the boardroom for meetings.

Stitched out of 24 separate high definition photographs that combine to form the image of the quad at night, this mural dominates the hall and covers the entire right wall, designed in a way as to be an optical illusion giving the viewer the perception that anywhere in the room they are standing, the path through the quad pictured, is laid out in front of them.

“We wanted to use a night time, evening mural of campus,” Jackson said. “We wanted to depict walking into the quad.  The way it is designed the path follows you, anywhere you are in the room you’re walking into the quad, no matter if you’re in one corner or another, corner the quad is always with you.”

The walls are covered with a number of different testimonials, plaque after plaque of those honored by the University for their dedication and excellence of service.  Among those honored are the Rainey T. Wells Society and the John Wesley Carr Society, named after Murray State’s founder and its first President respectively, pictures of both of them being prominent in the lobby and the hall itself.

In addition to those two societies, represented also in the hall are the members of the President’s Club, the Heritage Society, the 1922 Society, and the Murray State Alumni Association; recipients of Honorary Doctorates from Murray State, the Presidential Medallion, and the Golden Horseshoe award.

Distinguished faculty and staff have their own plaque for distinguished professors, mentors, varsity scholars, researchers and endowed professors.

Jackson said more furniture is coming for the hall to help facilitate its use for special lunch-ins, receptions, dinners and functions, its completion already generating interest in the new space.

“We did not have a centralized location on this campus to recognize our donors, alumni, our friends, staff, faculty, those have come before us to do wonderful and great things with our career, and for Murray State,” Jackson said.  “All of us alums, we benefitted from a great education that put us on a path in life that allowed many of us to be very successful, and we’re very grateful.  This is a way for others to see the evidence and proof of giving back.”

Jackson said with this new hall and the completion of Heritage Hall, the building is on its way to becoming a welcome center for Murray State due to its location at the intersection of 16th Street and Ky. 121.  He said he hopes that it will soon become a staple stop on campus tours.

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.